I’m just starting the last chapter of my book manuscript (Brilliant Manoeuvres: How to Use Military Wisdom to Win Business Battles). It’s the chapter on leadership, which will tie everything together. I will be structuring it according to the list of 10 leadership principles that I learned as a young officer and that served me well throughout my military career.

These were the official Canadian military leadership principles for about 50 years, until the academics mucked them up in the early 2000s and made them too long and mushy and overly psychological.

1. Achieve professional competence.
2. Appreciate your own strengths and limitations and pursue self-improvement.
3. Seek and accept responsibility.
4. Lead by example.
5. Make sure that your followers know your meaning and intent, then lead them to the accomplishment of the mission.
6. Know your soldiers and promote their welfare.
7. Develop the leadership potential of your followers.
8. Make sound and timely decisions.
9. Train your soldiers as a team and employ them up to their capabilities.
10. Keep your followers informed of the mission, the changing situation and the overall picture.

The new principles are as follows:

1. Achieve professional competence and pursue self-improvement.
2. Clarify objectives and intent.
3. Solve problems; make timely decisions.
4. Direct; motivate by persuasion and example and by sharing risks and hardships.
5. Train individuals and teams under demanding and realistic conditions.
6. Build teamwork and cohesion.
7. Keep subordinates informed; explain events and decisions.
8. Mentor, educate, and develop subordinates.
9. Treat subordinates fairly; respond to their concerns; represent their interests.
10. Maintain situational awareness; seek information; keep current.
11. Learn from experience and those who have experience.
12. Exemplify and reinforce the military ethos; maintain order and discipline; uphold professional norms.

My gripe is that it looks like they tried to cram too much into the list. They also lost the simplicity and directness of the more traditional ones. Contrast the first part of 12 in the new list with the original “Lead by example.” Much crisper and easier to retain. Also, what happened to the simple “Know your subordinates”?

© 2012 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes permitted with full and proper attribution.

Comments
  1. We have some common ground and common thoughts. Your lists look great and complete. Your book should be a winner. Sounds similar to what I am working on. My blog is centered around it, and my forthcoming book is mentioned. I will be following your blog, and I hope you check mine out as well.

  2. Thanks Dale! I appreciate your support. I noticed the list of leadership principles on your website appears to also be military in origin. Is that correct?

    Richard Martin

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