Understanding the difference between vital ground and key terrain

Posted: February 23, 2015 in Powerful Ideas
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There’s a principle of defence that distinguishes between vital ground and key terrain. In a nutshell, vital ground is the position or ground that you must defend to the last man, and if you fail in that task, then the whole defensive line will fall apart. Key terrain includes all those areas and positions that allow you to slow down or channel an attacker or challenger and that make the defence of vital ground that much stronger. If you lose control of key terrain, then that jeopardizes your hold on vital ground.

Whether it’s with our followers, employers, clients, suppliers, or anyone else for that matter, it’s important to distinguish what is vital ground from what is key terrain. In some cases, you can give up key terrain by trading space for time, but it’s easy to confuse ego or a false sense of superiority for vital ground, when it’s just key terrain, or a way to put some distance between ourselves and others. If we confuse the two, we can get caught up in fighting battles we can’t win or using up all our ammunition in pyrrhic victories.

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.

© 2015 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

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