Note: Please contact me if you or anyone you know of is interested in publishing this series as a book (or in any other format). I can also provide a full book proposal and will refer you to my agent. This is from the Introduction of my series on leadership and leadership development, based on my experience as an army officer and over 10 years as a business and management consultant helping businesses and executives to thrive in the face of rapid change, risk, and uncertainty. It comes from a book I started to write two years ago. I’ve been posting the introductory chapter as a series on this blog, which you can consult at the following links:

Leadership is the same in the military, business… and hockey

What do I mean by leadership anyway?

Why is the military approach to leadership so powerful?

Chapter 1: Competence Is the Heart of Leadership

I have found over the years that the most influential and critical teachings in my development as a leader have come from watching, following, and learning from some of the most effective and inspirational leaders. You don’t know any of these people. However, I can say that they shaped my development as a leader in ways they probably can’t even imagine. They have given me the gift of example, guidance or critique at key junctures of my life and career(s). My aim with this book is to give you the same guidance, knowledge, and skills that I got as a developing leader throughout my adolescence, youth, military service, and business career. Some people are still important role models and influences even now, when I’m in my early fifties and enjoying a second career as an independent consultant, coach, speaker, and author.

I’ve structured the book around the ten leadership principles I learned as an officer in the Canadian Army. These military principles no doubt vary across the world, but I’m fairly certain that they nonetheless distill a common core of practical wisdom. I know these principles intimately, because—I often jokingly say—I’ve failed at every single one of them. But I can also assure you that I excelled as well. Sometimes I broke them intentionally, because I thought I could get away with it, but more often I broke them out of bad habits, lack of attention, or just plain foolishness. One thing I can say, however, is that they work, all the time, and in all circumstances. This means that you, dear reader, can also learn these principles.

Now you can incorporate this wisdom into your leadership and style. You may have an image of military leadership as harsh, direct, authoritarian, and prone to excessive rigidity and discipline. I’m not going to lie to you; military leadership can be all of those things. But military leadership is also about bringing out the best in people, forging them into a cohesive, unified, and inspired whole. You may be surprised to learn this, but I was taught that the need to fall back on authority was actually a failing. I therefore learned to rely on influence and inspiration rather than brute power. Military leadership can get people and teams to perform beyond expectations, in ways and conditions that the followers couldn’t even have imagined prior to undertaking a mission or task. Military leadership goes well beyond the transactional style of influence and basic forms of teamwork. It’s about creating an organic whole to survive and thrive in life threatening situations and that demand sacrifice, superb morale, and overcoming primal fears. Military leadership incorporates the best ways of transforming people, teams, and organizations.

© 2016 Richard Martin. Reproduction, forwarding and quotes permitted with proper attribution.

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