Posts Tagged ‘cohesion’

The military teaches a comprehensive procedure for getting a unit of any size ready for combat and operations. It’s called “battle procedure,” and it is also highly useful for business application. The complete procedure has 17 steps, but I’ve distilled them down to 6 main phases and adapted them for business. This can be done very deliberately or in a more hasty manner, depending on the situation and need for speed.

I’ll also go into each phase over the next few weeks, but for now, here is a short list to give you a taste:

  1. Warning Order: Receive a warning from higher up that an operation is brewing. Alternatively, you may also notice a significant change in the business situation that requires planning and action on your part.
  2. Do a Time Estimate: This is a technique for determine all the key actions that must occur between deciding to launch an operation and the actual “h-hour.”
  3. Conduct Reconnaissance: I was taught in the army that “time spent in reconnaissance is rarely wasted.” Too often, business managers and entrepreneurs go into a significant operation without scouting the competitive terrain and scoping out the opposition.
  4. Do Your Estimate and Formulate Your Plan: The estimate is a sequential process for assessing the situation and determining key factors, options, and consequences of actions (friendly and enemy). The result of the estimate is a plan.
  5. Rehearse and Prepare: This is the step where everyone involved goes through the entire plan to ensure they know what they have to do, when they have to do it, and what they have to do to support others or adjust on the fly, as needed.
  6. Execute: This is self-explanatory, but there are some nuances we need to address.
    I’m creating a new intervention around this and will be announcing it within a few weeks. I’m thinking of calling it “Corporate Battle Preparation”.

Stay tuned…

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 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.

Signs of good morale:

  • Optimism
  • Realism
  • Cooperation and mutualaid
  • Hard work and sacrifices
  • Constructive criticism
  • Confidence in self and leaders

How is the morale is your team or organization?

  1. Do you sense that people in your company have hope?
  2. Is the language they use optimistic and hopeful, or pessimistic and despairing?
  3. Are people making plans for the future with themselves in the plans, or are they instead making plans to abandon ship?
  4. Do people have a lot of idle time, or are they working on ways to continually improve the organization and its performance?

Richard Martin is a consultant, speaker, and executive coach. He brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to exploit change, maximize opportunity, and minimize risk.

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

Last week I gave a list of 10 lessons I learned about leadership, strategy, and management that I learned in my time in the Canadian Army and as a consultant, helping executives, entrepreneurs, and organizations to exploit change and achieve outstanding growth in results and performance. I promised 10 more this week, and they can be summarized as “Create the conditions for success,” so here goes:

  1. Never accept a situation as given. There is always something you can do to…
  2. Create the conditions for success, by…
  3. Shaping the “battlespace” and preparing the ground to your advantage.
  4. Then, make sure your people understand your vision, mission, and intent.
  5. Remember that people power is based on engagement, commitment, and initiative.
  6. Morale is about the will to fight, to persevere, and to win, not just about being happy and in a good mood.
  7. Care for your people and they will reciprocate.
  8. Keep things as simple as needed, but no simpler.
  9. Brilliant strategy and manoeuvres are essential, but they depend on careful logistical and administrative planning and routines.
  10. Remember that we fail as individuals but succeed as a team.

Richard Martin is a consultant, speaker, and executive coach. He brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to exploit change, maximize opportunity, and minimize risk.

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

Brilliant Manoeuvre
Build your leadership on the basis of competence and results, not just style and likeability.

Discussion
A common misunderstanding about leadership is that it absolutely requires charisma and personal “style.” These elements won’t harm leadership, but they don’t create it. There is also a popular misconception that good leaders are necessarily liked and popular.

The essence of leadership is competence, the ability to get things done efficiently and effectively, which in turn leads to the respect of superiors, followers, and peers. Likeability and popularity are merely side benefits, and not necessarily that important. There is a substantive technique to leadership. It involves such mundane matters as the ability to plan, decide, direct, and control. This can include everything from basic time management to the development of detailed resource requirements and task assignments. It also requires communication, steadfastness in the face of difficulty, a willingness to consult and combine the forces of people with different skills and personalities. Style and charisma are the decoration and friezes on the structure, but the bricks and mortar are teachable skills and techniques.

Food for Thought
People will follow those who have a claim to leadership, but only if they obtain consistent results. Nobody wants to follow a loser, or someone who meanders aimlessly without purpose or ability.

Richard Martin is a consultant, speaker, and executive coach. He brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to exploit change, maximize opportunity, and minimize risk.

© 2013 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

Brilliant Manoeuvre
Lead by example, especially in matters of ethics.

Discussion
When I was a staff officer in the headquarters of the Canadian Land Force Doctrine and Training System, our commander had assembled the entire staff to talk about leadership. He asked the assembly what the most important principle of leadership is. In unison, and without hesitation, everyone answered, “Lead by example.” This wasn’t the result of indoctrination, but of hard won experience, as we were all experienced officers and NCOs.

Thoughout my career, I always tried to apply this most basic of leadership principles, although I sometimes faltered. When I did, it was usually a matter of ethics. I don’t mean to say I was willfully acting unethically, but rather that many errors of commission and omission can be interpreted by followers and peers as ethical misconduct.

These days, we have business and political leaders, athletes, clergy, educators and others in positions of influence and authority acting unethically. Many do not appear to understand that this directly undermines their credibility and ability to lead. For instance, Anthony Weiner is running for mayor of New York City, but doesn’t see that his sexual pecadilloes can undermine his credibility, and therefore his ability to lead one of the most important cities on earth! Here in Montreal, the Charbonneau Commission is investigating allegations of bribery and bid-rigging in municipal construction projects. The standard excuse by those called to testify? Everyone was doing it. It seemed to be “the way things were done.”

Leaders set the ethical tone of the organizations they lead, and they must always be aware of this fact.

Food for Thought
Ill-considered and immoral actions in organizations undermine the morale and ethics of their members and the society they are meant to serve.

Richard Martin is a consultant, speaker, and executive coach. He brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to exploit change, maximize opportunity, and minimize risk.

© 2013 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

Brilliant Manoeuvre
Morale is critical, but we must also acknowledge and understand all of the components that go into forging an effective organization.

Discussion
The subject of morale often comes up in my work with clients. Unfortunately, there is a very superficial understanding of the concept. As I’ve said before, morale is the willingness to fight and persevere, to make sacrifices to achieve victory or one’s corporate aims. People often confuse morale with other the other main components of organizational dynamics, such as mood, cohesion, and unity of purpose. They all go together, but are all different in focus and purpose. When we add the effects of leadership, we can get a much fuller picture of how to build an effective organization that can perform beyond expectations.

Questions
You can assess the morale in your organization through the following questions:

  • Do people have hope of better days or constant improvement? Are they optimistic or pessimistic?
  • Are your people making plans with themselves in the picture, or are they trying to abandon ship?
  • Do they waste a lot of time or do they focus on ways to continually improve the organization and its performance?

Richard Martin is a consultant, speaker, and executive coach. He brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to exploit change, maximize opportunity, and minimize risk.

© 2013 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

Brilliant Manoeuvre
No one can predict the future, much to the chagrin of many economists and financial theorists and their media acolytes, who prefer assumptions of perfect knowledge and decision-making in all circumstances.

Discussion
I’m breaking my deliberate policy of not commenting on political issues this week in order to comment on reactions to the Boston Marathon bombings last Monday. My personal opinion is that the response of government and law enforcement agencies at all levels has been brilliant in the circumstances. However, there are already Monday Morning Quarterbacks saying that the government overreacted by shuttingn down Boston on Friday and part of Saturday. The problem is that the ones responsible for making these decisions can only plan and act based on information available at the time and the factors they felt they needed to consider. Just throwing out there that they overreacted without knowing those things is pure speculation based on specious counterfactuals or a personal hobby horse. If there is something I learned from a 26-year military career and my study of military strategy and history, it is that decisions that can look sub-optimal in hindsight may have been the best at the time given the circumstances of friction, uncertainty, and the fog of war. In this particular case, only a full after-action review will permit the systemic learning to occur. Saying it was an overreaction is nothing but pure hindsight bias.

Tip
The more complex and risky the undertaking, the more likely that friction will wreak havoc. We must compensate by building robustness, resiliency and redundancy into our plans and systems.

From the Vault
A Superb Example of Crisis Leadership in Action

By the way…
My ideas were featured in the March 25th Globe and Mail: A military approach to business.

Richard Martin is a consultant, speaker, and executive coach. He brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to exploit change, maximize opportunity, and minimize risk.

© 2013 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

Brilliant Manoeuvre
Keep your followers informed of the mission, the changing situation, and the overall picture.

Discussion
One of my clients hired me to help grow sales and improve processes within one of his company’s business lines. However, he hadn’t told the people in that division what was happening and why he had hired me. The rumour started going around that he was planning on closing that business line, which was, of course, completely false. People are not mushrooms; they don’t grow best in the damp and the dark. You have to let in the light so they know what is happening, why it’s happening, and what needs to be done, both individually and collectively. People and teams perform best when they know what the mission and objectives are, what the leader’s overall intent and plan are to achieve them, and what is expected of them as members of the organization. Moreover, when they know what the mission and goals are, what the overall situation is, they can use their abilities and initiative to work towards the most effective and efficient achievement of the mission.

Tip
Periodically get your people together to tell them how things are progressing towards achieving objectives and the overall mission. Let them know how they’re doing, and let them ask any questions they want so you can provide the answers. You can also hold a lessons learned session and ask for input and suggestions for improvement. In the army this is known as ‘platoon commander’s hour.’ When he ran GE, Jack Welch would also do exactly the same thing, although at a much higher level.

Richard Martin is a consultant, speaker, and executive coach. He brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to exploit change, maximize opportunity, and minimize risk.

© 2013 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.