I have been focusing on each of the 10 leadership principles I learned as an officer in the army. This the 10th of these principles.

  1. Remember that people aren’t mushrooms. They don’t grow better in the cold, damp, and dark. Be ruthlessly honest and open about the real situation.
  2. Ensure everyone understands the mission and end state, so they can exercise their initiative when the inevitable changes occur.
  3. Assume that there will always be friction in the execution of plans and procedures and work to minimize it.
  4. Provide ongoing feedback and status updates so people know what is going on.
  5. Inform your followers and other stakeholders of important information they need to know.
  6. Inform people on a “need to know” basis.
  7. Make regular rounds “at the front” and ask people for their opinions, what’s happening, and their understanding of the situation.
  8. Correct mistakes and misinterpretations quickly and effectively.
  9. Kill rumours ruthlessly and quickly with accurate information.
  10. Be prepared to exploit successes and breakthroughs.

Richard Martin is a Master Strategist and Leadership Catalyst. Richard brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to radically improve performance, grow, and thrive in the face of rapid change, harsh competition, and increasing uncertainty.

© 2014 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

I have been focusing on each of the 10 leadership principles I learned as an officer in the army. This the 9th of these principles.

  1. Practise new procedures and for new types of operations if at all possible.
  2. Conduct regular after action reviews and seek to incorporate lessons learned.
  3. Develop or incorporate complementary competencies within your team or organization.
  4. Make sure everyone understands fully the mission, intent and plan before going into action.
  5. Provide training or education for individuals and groups if they haven’t done it before or they don’t current have all the qualifications.
  6. Give your subordinate leaders a certain freedom action to accommodate individual and team differences.
  7. Encourage moderate levels of internal rivalry and competition.
  8. Monitor morale, mood, and cohesion closely.
  9. Work on continuous and never-ending improvement.
  10. Be generous in praise and quick to correct mistakes or misinterpretations.

Richard Martin is a Master Strategist and Leadership Catalyst. Richard brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to radically improve performance, grow, and thrive in the face of rapid change, harsh competition, and increasing uncertainty.

© 2014 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

I have been focusing on each of the 10 leadership principles I learned as an officer in the army. This the 8th of these principles.

  1. Understand the trade-offs and advantages of delegation and participation. Bring others into your decision-making and planning if you have the time, they have the expertise, and you need to get them involved to ensure their full commitment.
  2. Decide when you’ve got sufficient (but not complete) information or knowledge.
  3. Consider multiple options and compare them against all relevant decision factors and your objectives.
  4. Focus your personal leadership efforts on the most critical aspects and delegate the rest.
  5. Break big problems down into smaller ones and assign them to subordinate leaders or teams.
  6. Never keep more than 1/3 of the available planning time for yourself and ensure you leave at least 2/3 for your subordinates to make their own decisions and plans.
  7. Consider alternative courses of action as potential contingency plans if your initial estimates or assumptions prove incorrect.
  8. Start planning for subsequent developments once the current operation is underway.
  9. Incorporate risk management and mitigation into your decision-making and planning. Consider worst-case and best-case scenarios.
  10. Assume you don’t have all the information or knowledge you need. In other words, there is always uncertainty and you can’t prepare for every possible contingency.

Richard Martin is The Master Strategist and Leadership Catalyst. Richard brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to radically improve performance, grow, and thrive in the face of rapid change, harsh competition, and increasing uncertainty.

© 2014 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

I’ve been an independent consultant for eight years now. One of the deepest insights I’ve gained, from my own experience and that of helping others is the unerring value of self-esteem.

Self-esteem is the profound belief, faith even, that we are worthwhile individuals and that we have something of value to contribute to others and to the wider world. Unfortunately, many people confuse the belief in one’s unconditional worth and value with the belief that one should be beyond criticism or sheltered from opposition, difficulty, or even enmity.

An acquaintance of mine has been struggling for years with the idea of writing a book. He has—falsely in my estimation—focused on researching the topic to death and developing the ideas of others. If he had just written the book based on what he knows about the topic he would probably have published it by now and started drawing the benefits of having done so. He thinks he has a writing problem and frames his situation in that way. I’ve suggested to him that what he really has is a self-esteem issue. He thinks that he needs to rely on the ideas of others in order to be taken seriously as an author and expert on his topic of choice.

To quote Isaac Newton, we all “stand on the shoulders of giants.” That’s okay, and we should always acknowledge the sources of our ideas and contributions of others. But when that becomes an excuse to put off accomplishing what we truly want, it’s not simply a technical problem. It’s a self-esteem problem.

I’ve often been surprised in working with executives and companies that a lot of their problems stem from low self-esteem, or at least a lack of self-confidence and self-recognition of their unique value. I was doing a project with a professional service company. We were discussing ways of increasing the value—and fees—they could be charging their clients. When I broached the topic of moving from simply providing ready-made information and executing client-defined mandates, to knowledge- and wisdom-based interventions, the members of the group were visibly ill at ease.

When I inquired as to the nature of their discomfort, they told me straight out they didn’t think they could do it, and that besides their clients would never pay for that. They said they could never venture outside the beaten path of how things are done in their industry. It reminded me of the Simpsons episode when Marge washes Homer’s white shirts with the reds, and they come out pink. Marge tells Homer she thinks he looks good in pink, and that he looks different. But he tells her that he can’t risk being different because he’s not popular enough.

As my mentor, Alan Weiss, always says, “You can’t ask others to believe in your value unless you first believe it yourself.” Value is largely a psychological phenomenon. Can we honestly say a $100 thousand Mercedes is worth three times as much as a $30 thousand dollar Toyota (or whatever)? Not objectively at least. The value is in the perception and the branding. Before someone accuses me of not recognizing the workmanship and styling and performance of a Mercedes, I’ll say right away that these are objective qualities. However, there is also a unique, subjective qualitative difference. Technical know-how and proficiency are definitely a source of the Mercedes brand, but so is the self-esteem of the company, its management, and its employees. Moreover, customers acquire Mercedes’s cars because of that perception.

The exercise of sound leadership implies risk-taking and decision-making. This also entails a need for strong self-esteem. If you’re in front and leading, seeking to influence others and giving your view of things, then you will necessarily be criticized and occasionally opposed. You can’t lead if you don’t have the self-esteem to weather its inevitable ups and downs. By extension, leadership is founded on respect. We think of respect for the leader, but that also includes respect of others in general. To lead people you have to respect them enough to give them information, to explain the situation, to let them use their creativity and initiative, and to develop them so they can shine and eventually step into your shoes.

As you can see, self-esteem is not just some ethereal quality suitable only for preschoolers. If we want to take risks in life—And can we really avoid them?—then we require self-esteem. We must believe in our powers and abilities, and be willing to take a chance on them. We must have faith that others want and value our products and services and contributions. Otherwise, we get lost in the pack with no perception of difference and competitive advantage. We also fail to make our best contribution.

Richard Martin is The Master Strategist and Leadership Catalyst. Richard brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to radically improve performance, grow, and thrive in the face of rapid change, harsh competition, and increasing uncertainty.

© Alcera Consulting Inc. 2014. We encourage the sharing of this information and forwarding of this email with attribution. All other rights reserved.

I have been focusing on each of the 10 leadership principles I learned as an officer in the army. This the 7th of these principles.

  1. Realize that everyone is expendable, including you.
  2. Assume that all your followers are potential leaders until they prove otherwise.
  3. Leadership can and must be developed.
  4. Match responsibilities to knowledge and skill levels.
  5. Remember it’s easier to teach knowledge and skills than to change attitudes.
  6. Create a professional development framework so everyone knows what is required and expected in order to progress.
  7. Stimulate your followers intellectually and emotionally.
  8. Challenge your followers, especially if you think they have high leadership potential.
  9. Provide ongoing coaching, mentoring, training, and feedback.
  10. Tell people where they stand.

Richard Martin is The Master Strategist and Leadership Catalyst. Richard brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to radically improve performance, grow, and thrive in the face of rapid change, harsh competition, and increasing uncertainty.

© 2014 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

I have been focusing on each of the 10 leadership principles I learned as an officer in the army. This the 6th of these principles.

  1. Get out of your office and talk to your followers, colleagues, and other stakeholders.
  2. Ask your followers about themselves.
  3. Have a regular “platoon commander’s hour.”
  4. Every once in a while get in the “snake pit” and answer questions from your followers.
  5. Ensure your followers have the best training, professional development, leadership and resources they need to carry out their missions.
  6. Ensure your followers’ creature comforts are reasonable and taken care of.
  7. Ensure fairness and reasonable equivalence in privileges and amenities across your team or organization.
  8. Provide regular feedback.
  9. Monitor the mood, morale, and cohesion of your team or organization.
  10. Care about the person, not just the position.

Richard Martin is The Master Strategist and Leadership Catalyst. Richard brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to radically improve performance, grow, and thrive in the face of rapid change, harsh competition, and increasing uncertainty.

© 2014 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

I have been focusing on each of the 10 leadership principles I learned as an officer in the army. This the fourth of these principles.

  1. Take your profession seriously and be a model of professional competency and development.
  2. Assume everyone is looking to you and will imitate you in your comportment, demeanour, and words.
  3. Walk the walk and talk the talk, but remember that actions speak louder than words.
  4. Own up to mistakes and errors, and correct them immediately.
  5. Follow the golden rule. Respect goes both ways.
  6. Be willing to make hard decision and to justify and explain them if necessary. Don’t just “rule by fiat.”
  7. Be firm but fair. Explain your decisions when they concern people directly.
  8. Know what you stand for and make sure others know it also.
  9. Be honest with yourself and others.
  10. If you don’t know, say so. You can always find out or ask for someone’s advice or input.

Richard Martin is The Master Strategist and Leadership Catalyst. Richard brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to radically improve performance, grow, and thrive in the face of rapid change, harsh competition, and increasing uncertainty.

© 2014 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.