Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

I know someone who has been asking for clarification about a potential move by his employer. This has been going on for a few years now, and there is no indication of when this move could take place, or even whether it will. Naturally, this has left most employees wondering about their future and starting to take measures to change jobs because of the concern.

There is no reason why people should be kept in the dark about such an important decision. Company leaders don’t have to reveal all the details of their decision process, but they should at least provide a prognosis and some of the factors they are considering. It’s just basic respect for long-time employees and would also clear the air. The company is starting to lose good employees because they prefer to take matters into their own hands than be vulnerable to the whims of their current employer.

What is this unnecessary uncertainty and secretiveness costing the company, its managers, and its employees? There may be risks to giving out too much information, but there are also risks to not giving enough. Managers and leaders must strike a balance between both extremes, and not just assume that too much communication is a bad thing.

I’m never too busy to discuss your needs or those of anyone else you feel may benefit from meeting or talking to me. So feel free to contact me at any time!

Richard Martin is The Force Multiplier. He 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.

There is nothing worse than failing to prepare and increasing your readiness when you have the time and fair warning.

I’ve just developed a quick aide-mémoire to increase readiness. Here are the four key steps to be fully prepared for any challenge (e.g., sales campaign, product launch, client proposal, etc.)

Step 1: Activate

  • Confirm situation and probable mission and goals
  • Determine time available to prepare
  • Review documents, do preliminary research, consult previous reports
  • Activate team and support network
  • Prepare equipment, dress, “ammunition”
  • Inform your troops

Step 2: Reconnoitre

  • Terrain (market)
  • Objective (client, target segment)
  • Enemy (competitors)
  • Weather (context and conditions)

Step 3: Plan

  • Analyze reconnaissance results: aim, factors, options, decision, plan
  • Tactics: frontal attack, flanking attack, bypass manoeuvre
  • Exploit and protect centre of gravity
  • Determine main effort and mass forces for optimal impact
  • Manoeuvre strengths against weaknesses and gaps (of clients, competitors)

Step 4: Deploy

  • Brief troops, supporters, colleagues (as needed)
  • Initial and final rehearsals
  • Update plan, develop contingency plans
  • Final preparation-material and psychological
  • How is your morale and that of your team? Do you have the will to win?

Now, go win your battles!

I’m never too busy to discuss your needs or those of anyone else you feel may benefit from meeting or talking to me. So feel free to contact me at any time!

Richard Martin is The Force Multiplier. He 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.

You can’t generate morale and teamwork through “morale activities” and “teambuilding exercises.” You have to act, adapt, and adjust in line with your objectives and mission on a day-to-day basis with strong leadership and effective, efficient management.

Morale is the will to victory. Whether you’re an individual, team, or organization, the following elements are critical to building and maintaining solid morale.

  • A clear and compelling mission and deepset belief that you are helping others by bringing outstanding value.
  • Passion for the work and the results you bring.
  • A support system, including family, spouse, and close friends.
  • The right tools, supplies, and material support to get the job done.
  • Clear goals and understanding of higher level intent and plans.
  • Training and coaching as needed to build skills and knowledge.
  • Mentoring from someone who has been where you’ve been and achieved great things.
  • A technical advisory team consisting of experts in their domains: e.g., accountant, financial advisor(s), IT and web support, marketing, etc.
  • Business advisor(s) who give you honest feedback quickly and effectively.
  • Celebrating and profiting from wins while learning from temporary setbacks.
  • Knowing what you really want. In some cases, this can only come from the gritty world of action. You don’t know how you will react to something until you actually face it.
  • Experiment and learn from trial and error. Feedback from acting generates a lot more knowledge and wisdom than sitting around and waiting for something to happen.

I’m never too busy to discuss your needs or those of anyone else you feel may benefit from meeting or talking to me. So feel free to contact me at any time!

Richard Martin is The Force Multiplier. He 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.

Military leaders learn to “put troops to task” when they are making their battle plans. In simple terms, you may want something to happen, but unless you assign specific tasks and responsibilities to people, along with resources and timelines, things are likely not to get done. So, unless you believe your followers are capable of mind-reading, or you believe in miracles, make sure they know what you expect of them.

  • Specify your overall aim so people know what you want to achieve.
  • Identify key roles and functions.
  • Assign these to specific individuals with clear responsibility to achieve concrete, measurable outcomes.
  • Assign ressources and ask those you’ve tasked to ensure these are sufficient. Tell them to analyze their options and request additional ressources if required.
  • Confirm understanding of your outline plan and key responsibilities.
  • Have them brief their plans back to you so you know they are doing what you want them to.
  • Have them coordinate details amongst themselves and inform you of any major impacts on the overall intent and plan so you can modify if needed.
  • Detail constraints (thou shalt) and restraints (thou shalt not) so they know their “limits of exploitation.”
  • Always end your meetings or planning sessions with a record of decisions, assigned tasks and responsibilities, and next actions/events/milestones.
  • Talk with your immediate subordinates’ followers so you know if they have understood the tasks of the team and can execute them.

I’m never too busy to discuss your needs or those of anyone else you feel may benefit from meeting or talking to me. So feel free to contact me at any time!

Richard Martin is The Force Multiplier. He 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.

Leadership is the art of influencing others in the accomplishment of a task or mission.

Many people automatically default to using rewards and punishments and various other forms of transactional leadership to influence followers and subordinates. The problem with this though is that people habituate quickly to rewards and punishments (assuming the latter aren’t extremely abusive). It’s like jumping into a swimming pool. There can be an initial shock of cold or pleasurable cooling sensation, but you get used to it fairly quickly. Once people are habituated to transactional leadership tactics, they tend to fade into the background and lose their effectiveness.

Another problem with transactional approaches to leadership is that they can initiate an unintended train of cause and effect. If you promise bonuses to your sales people so they focus on clearing out inventory of a particular product, you shouldn’t be surprised if they focus almost exclusively on that to the detriment of other products and services.

Leading from the inside out involves finding what motivates people internally, and working to either modify or leverage those intrinsic motivations. Here are some key approaches for “leading from the inside out.”

  • Lead by example.
  • Say what you do, and do what you say.
  • Give people the end state, overarching vision, and goals, and let them find the best way to achieve these (assuming legality and reasonable standardization of processes and procedures). In other words, specify what to achieve, not how to achieve it.
  • Involve people in setting goals and the overall vision, if relevant.
  • Let people define their own contributions and mission statement.
  • Provide resources and inputs subject to the requests and needs of subordinates.
  • Give them as much situational information as feasible within the constraints of business secrecy and personal confidentiality.
  • Find what makes each of your direct subordinates or followers tick, what their strengths personal goals are, what their personal preferences are, then try to assign them tasks and responsibilities that will leverage these and stretch their capabilities.
  • Give people general functional responsibilities and let them figure out the details.
  • Ask for their advice on important matters, not just trivial ones (sales planning vs the color scheme in the break room).

I’m never too busy to discuss your needs or those of anyone else you feel may benefit from meeting or talking to me. So feel free to contact me at any time!

Richard Martin is The Force Multiplier. He 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.

You might find this hard to believe, but SIMPLICITY is actually a key principle of military strategy and tactics. Complication increases the probability of friction, and friction increases the chances of failure, or massive confusion.

How do you know you’ve achieved simplicity? Simple: People can readily explain things back to you in their own words without error or misunderstanding. Whether it’s your overall intent, vision, mission, or detailed plans, ALL of your employees should be able to respond to the questions, “What are we doing here and what is your part in it? What happens if you can’t fulfill your part of the plan?” In business terms, this also includes the ability to quickly articulate how the client is better off by buying your products or services or doing business with you.

Here are some quick tips to keep things simple:

  • Give people your overall intent and tell them WHAT you would like them to contribute and WHY it’s important.
  • Let them figure out the best WAY to achieve their tasks and outcomes.
  • Focus on outcomes, not inputs.
  • Follow the rule of three: Only rarely should you give more than three major tasks or outcomes to someone. Limit their span of responsibility and control to three subordinates.
  • Break complex plans and tasks into smaller pieces and assign them to separate teams and leaders. Apply the rule of three.
  • Assign clear lines of authority and responsibility. Ensure people are accountable.
  • Assign major resources to teams and leaders but let them figure out and coordinate the details.

I’m never too busy to discuss your needs or those of anyone else you feel may benefit from meeting or talking to me. So feel free to contact me at any time!

Richard Martin is The Force Multiplier. He 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.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation just released its report by an outside investigator into star radio host Jian Ghomeshi’s execrable behaviour. Beyond confirming that Ghomeshi was a class A a__hole, we’ve also learned that managers knew about it and did mostly… nothing.

This is not an HR problem. It’s a leadership problem, a management problem, an ethical problem! Leaders set the ethical tone of an organization. What they accept will be deemed acceptable; what they reject, will be deemed rejectable. Poor leadership breeds poor management and poor leadership, and it also breeds questionable actions.

I call this the “license principle.” Leaders provide a license for certain types of behaviour and attitudes, even if they don’t act that way themselves. Refusing to deal with a workplace bully like Ghomeshi just because he’s a star provides a license to others to act in the same manner and fails to protect those that are the target of the bully’s ire.

A fundamental leadership principle that I learned in the Army requires that leaders care for the welfare of subordinates and followers. CBC management failed in this mission while tacitly encouraging bullying and favouratism.

Richard Martin is The Force Multiplier. He 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.

The following extract from my book, Brilliant Manoeuvres, is as relevant as ever:

Followers will model their behaviour on their leaders, especially if they, the followers, have little experience of the undertaking. The leader sets the tone for the entire organization by how he or she thinks, acts, speaks, and decides. If the leader is weak and indecisive, the whole organization will often be of the same complexion. If the leader acts ethically and with integrity, then this attitude will tend to permeate the organization. The leader gives a license to his or her followers to think and perform in a certain way; so all actions and words must be assessed for their impact on followers, superiors, peers, and those the organization is meant to serve. In the final analysis, the leader must be worthy of the loyalty, confidence, and respect of followers, because they will mimic the leader’s performance.

  • Have you ever been forced to work for or follow a leader of dubious competencies and integrity? How did you feel? How did your co-workers feel? What mechanisms did followers adopt to compensate for the leader’s weaknesses?
  • Conversely, have you ever had the pleasure to work for a leader who was competent and who provided a superb example of professional excellence and ethical integrity? What was it like? How did you and your co-workers feel and act? What were the mood, morale, and cohesion like?
  • Are you always a good role model and example for your followers and peers? Are you truly worthy of their loyalty, confidence and respect at all times?
  • Skills building techniques:
    • Make a list of all the leadership qualities and practices that you have always admired. Decide to apply these to your own leadership in a conscious and deliberate manner.
    • Make a list of all the poor leadership practices that you’ve always disliked in others. Observe yourself in action and try to avoid these practices in yourself.
    • Look at your speech, decisions, actions, and performance from the perspective of others, especially your followers. What do you think they expect in a leader? What do they need in a leader? Work to balance their expectations and their needs in everything you do and project.
    • Have you ever said one thing but done the opposite? Why did you do so? How could you have avoided it? What will you do to avoid it in the future?

“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.”
General Dwight D. Eisenhower

I’m never too busy to discuss your needs or those of anyone else you feel may benefit from meeting or talking to me. So feel free to contact me at any time!

Ask me about my new Battle Procedure Briefing for business.

Richard Martin is The Force Multiplier. He 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.

Morale is the willingness to fight and to make the sacrifices needed to succeed and win. Many people confuse morale with mood. They think that if people are complaining or they are in a bad mood that automatically indicates bad morale. That may be the case, but not necessarily. In fact, people can be in a bad mood BECAUSE they have high morale. They want things to go better and are angry or momentarily discouraged because they aren’t. It’s up to leaders and key influencers to recognize this difference and to not let the momentary lapse get to them.

Signs of good morale:

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

How is the morale is your team or organization?

  • Do you sense that people in your company have hope?
  • Is the language they use optimistic and hopeful, or pessimistic and despairing?
  • Are people making plans for the future with themselves in the plans, or are they instead making plans to abandon ship?
  • 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 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.

There is no truth to the belief that great leaders are born that way and that you can’t really develop or acquire the competencies for leadership. This belief stems from a self-limiting, fixed mind set. The first leadership principle—to achieve professional competence—tells us what to achieve, the second leadership principle—to appreciate one’s strengths and limitations and pursue self-improvement—tells us how to achieve it.

The growth mind set is essential for learning, growth, and development in any field of endeavour, and certainly this is the case for leadership. We grow by challenging ourselves and overcoming resistance and obstacles. The growth mind set as applied to leadership consists of what I call the Four Pillars of Leadership Excellence. These encompass the goal of development (objective standards), the power of example (role models), the understanding of objective performance and behaviour (self-knowledge), and the subjective awareness of performance and behaviour in action (self-awareness).

One of the most powerful concepts for leadership development is the “learning curve.” Learning occurs over time as we invest resources and effort in acquiring and honing new knowledge and skills. Learning starts when we become aware of a need for improvement or the potential to move to a new level. Learning itself is a cyclical process based on feedback. We need to act in order to generate results that we can then observe and assess against indicators. We therefore need objective standards and role models to emulate and to measure our progress. Prudent, calculated risks are the fuel of development. If progress is to continue on the road to development, then the learner must jump to a higher learning curve.

Just like an army on the offensive, you need a clear objective and mission. You also require a deep appreciation of your strengths so you can leverage them to the hilt, complemented by a realistic appraisal of your limitations so you can overcome or mitigate them. Your most powerful strength is your personal center of gravity. From the perspective of leadership, strengths can be any particular skills, attitudes, or elements of knowledge. Personality or character traits can also be strengths, as well as natural proclivities or talents, such as intelligence, visual and spatial abilities, and sociability. Strengths come at the intersection of things you do quickly and easily, you’re trusted and recognized for, and you’re passionate about. Once you’ve identified your center of gravity, you must then exploit it as much as possible, in concert with your other strengths, so you can achieve maximum efficiency and effectiveness as a leader.

It’s not enough however to play offence. You must also be able to manage your limitations and weaknesses so they don’t overwhelm your strengths and make you ineffective. I talk about managing limitations, because it’s probably impossible to eliminate them completely. All we can realistically do is contain them and mitigate their effects so they don’t hinder us excessively. I call this playing defence, because we don’t always have the initiative or the luxury to concentrate on all areas at once.

Techniques to Energize Your Leadership Development

  1. Adopt and nurture the growth mindset.
  2. View your successes and failures as feedback for learning.
  3. Study the objective standards of your field, profession or organization.
  4. Observe and emulate positive role models.
  5. Acquire self-knowledge to assess your leadership against objective standards.
  6. Develop self-awareness so you can witness your behaviour, thinking, and performance on a moment-to-moment basis and adjust these accordingly.
  7. Create a vision of how you wish to lead in the future, and then determine what competencies and traits you will need to achieve that vision.
  8. Assess your past performance as a leader so you can draw lessons learned for now and the future.
  9. Identify where you are on the learning curve for the particular competencies you need in leadership. Are you at the initial awareness stage, making rapid progress, reaching diminishing returns, plateauing, or in decline? What is needed to move to the next stage of leadership competence?
  10. What is the next learning curve for you? What are the most likely risks and opportunities you face when making the leap to the next curve?
  11. What are your top leadership strengths and your center of gravity? Develop a strategy to exploit your center of gravity.
  12. What are your top leadership limitations and vulnerabilities? What is your strategy to manage these limitations, depending on the situation and the people you are leading?

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.