Posts Tagged ‘respect’

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

My purpose in writing this series on leadership

What do I mean by leadership anyway?

Why the military approach to leadership is so powerful?

Chapter 1: Competence Is the Heart of Leadership

Whenever I present the principles of military leadership and the related philosophy of leadership development, I often get skeptical responses. Some people tend to dismiss the leadership principles and philosophy enunciated above as too simplistic. One frequent objection is that these principles and this philosophy are okay for low-level supervisors or maybe middle managers, but that organizational and strategic leadership are too complex and critical to be reduced to such simple concepts. Others point out that there are different types of leadership for different situations. How can the military, which relies heavily on authority and discipline, have anything to teach “civvies” about leadership? The implication is that entrepreneurs, executives, and others have nothing to learn from military-style leadership. A third type of response is that the principles and philosophy might work well in Western nations, where there is a culture of openness and inclusion, but that they couldn’t possibly work in other cultures, such as the Middle East, Africa, or Asia.

I can address all of these objections with a simple question. Let’s take the principle to lead by example. Does this principle apply to all of the supposed exceptions cited in the previous paragraph? If we can honestly answer in the affirmative, then we have to admit that leading by example is not just a military leadership principle. We would have to conclude that leading by example is actually a universal leadership principle. Leading by example is (or should be) relevant and applicable to presidents and prime ministers, CEOs and COOs, doctors and nurses, or anyone else for that matter. Not just soldiers and their commanders.

By extension, whether we’re talking about business, government, politics, non-profits, Boy Scouts, health care, education, or whatever, can we honestly dismiss this principle as non-applicable and not relevant? And can we say that Asians, Arabs, and Africans also don’t appreciate exemplary leadership? More generally, can we say that all of the principles and philosophy described above are not relevant and applicable to all levels, fields, and cultures?

Which brings me to the final and most common skeptical objection, that this all quite self-evident and straightforward. After all, doesn’t everyone know that a leader must be competent, or lead by example, or should keep her followers and other stakeholders informed of the situation and in the loop? Well, you would think so, wouldn’t you? But the reality is that, no, a lot of people, leaders and followers included, don’t seem to know these most fundamental of principles. Or if they do know them, they can’t seem to apply them consistently and judiciously.

As I stated earlier in this introduction, I’ve broken every single one of these principles at least once, and in some cases multiple times. I usually didn’t do so out of malice and certainly not out of ignorance, although in some cases I conveniently “forgot” them. Any other person with leadership experience, regardless of the field of endeavor, will admit as much also if they’re honest.

The key question isn’t why the military believes in and teaches such simple and basic leadership principles, or why military leadership development is so focused on imparting teachable skills. It is instead why, despite these approaches being supposedly simple and self-evident, more leaders don’t use them. To put it in a different light, why do so many leaders falter in applying the basics?

So there you have it, the philosophy underlying the military principles of leadership and leadership development. And this is also why I have written this book and why you should read it and take in its lessons for your own leadership and that in your team, business, association, or organization.

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

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

My purpose in writing this series on leadership

What do I mean by leadership anyway?

Chapter 1: Competence Is the Heart of Leadership

The profession of arms is concerned with the legal, rational application of force to the resolution of a social or political problem. If you are going to rationally apply force, then you will necessarily be directing missions that are risky for those you are leading and the ones you wish to influence through force. The rational application of force therefore requires rational leadership.

But here’s the rub. When you get right down to it, there is nothing less rational than asking people to put themselves in harm’s way for the good of someone else. Evolution has endowed us all with a survival instinct. We have a propensity to avoid life-threatening danger, if at all possible. How do you get people to go against their deepest instincts—and interests—in order to achieve someone else’s objectives?

The military takes a very pragmatic approach to leadership and leadership development. When I was a young cadet, training to become an infantry officer, we learned a set of basic principles to guide in our leadership.

  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, and then lead them to the accomplishment of the mission.
  6. Know your followers and promote their welfare.
  7. Develop the leadership potential of your followers.
  8. Make sound and timely decisions.
  9. Train your followers as a team and employ them to their capabilities.
  10. Keep your followers informed of the mission, the changing situation, and the overall picture.

In addition to inculcating these principles, the military approach to leadership development focuses heavily on the “nuts and bolts” of leadership and influence. I call this the competence-based philosophy of leadership development. In a nutshell, officer candidates and rank and file soldiers who have been selected for development are put through grueling training that builds planning, decision-making and directing skills. The military hierarchy does not rely only on character traits and willingness to take charge, but also seeks to impart the specific skills and knowledge required to command.

The underlying assumption of competence-based leadership is that soldiers will follow their leaders if they have confidence in their abilities and judgment. Confidence is directly related to the leader’s abilities to make sound plans, give clear and specific direction to followers, and to exercise rational powers and decision-making even under extreme conditions. The military training system therefore takes a fairly mechanistic approach in imparting these competencies. Instead of simply haranguing trainees or giving them rousing speeches—although those are sometimes required—leadership instructors focus on the processes of situational analysis, problem solving, planning, and organizing. Military forces the world over have created standardized approaches for all aspects of the leader’s job, from how to analyze the enemy’s likely actions and intentions, to assessing the tactical value of ground, logistical requirements, personnel needs, ammunition calculations, etc. There are also standardized processes and templates to follow for tactical planning and giving orders and direction. Everything that a leader has to do has been broken down into discrete steps. The focus of leadership training and professional development is on acquiring the knowledge, skills and attitudes to apply these processes and methodologies in all circumstances. In the final analysis, conflict is too dangerous and important to be left to the vagaries of personality and natural talent. Leadership trainees are assessed against these requirements and must be able to implement them to a reasonable standard before official promotion and appointment to command.

I’ll have much more to say about all of these leadership principles and processes as the book progresses. The key point though is that leadership can be developed. Some people have more natural talent than others. Also, some people have more of the “right stuff” to progress through the ranks and be entrusted with very high levels of responsibility. However, no matter what the command level—tactical, operational, or strategic—leadership is fundamentally the same in form and philosophy. It is the content and complexity of the leadership and command challenges that change as hierarchical and operational responsibilities widen in scope and deepen in impact.

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

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

My purpose in writing this series on leadership

Why is the military approach to leadership so powerful?

Chapter 1: Competence Is the Heart of Leadership

Before we go any further, it will be helpful to define exactly what I mean by leadership. Whenever I’m facilitating a strategy retreat, working with an executive on developing her leadership competencies, or just in a discussion with a prospect or client, the question inevitably comes up as to what the (or my) definition of leadership is. If I’m conducting training or teaching, I usually turn the question around and ask the trainees or students what their definition of leadership is. When this happens, I always find that the answers cover a range of individual and group behaviors. However, the common element in these answers always has some combination of the following:

  • A leader provides a vision of the future.
  • A leader makes decisions.
  • A leader illuminate the way forward.
  • A leader sets the example.
  • A leader tells people what to do, and sometimes how to do it.
  • A leader inspires and motivates others.

All of these definitions are true, and they all point to a few critical ingredients of leadership. First, there must be a goal. Second, there must be a range of options for how to proceed, and a certain level of uncertainty and risk. Third, the leader must inspire and motivate. Lastly, leaders have to lead; they have to set the example.

But when all is said and done, my favorite definition of leadership is the one I learned in the army:

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

This definition is simple, perhaps deceptively so, but it encapsulates all of the elements of leadership that are salient to getting others to behave in a certain way in order to achieve a favored goal. Notice that this definition says nothing about providing a vision, making decisions, motivating others, or telling people what to do. There is no hint of coercion or authority, nor is there any indication that one should use any particular form of influence.

This definition also states that leadership is an art. There may be a certain amount of science and knowledge involved in leading, but ultimately it is more about honing a craft and applying the right skills and mindset than finding and applying the right formula. A good leader is a kind of artisan, honing his craft through diligent practice and experiential learning.

Another keyword in this definition of leadership is influence. Effective leaders use a range of approaches to influence others, from extreme “asking” to extreme “telling.” Sometimes a light touch is needed and a leader must influence by rational argument and evidence. At other times, the leader must get out in front and charge headfirst into enemy fire, hoping that the followers will follow. In some situations, leaders can ask for advice and get everyone to participate in problem solving and decision-making democratically. In others, the leader must be harsh and use threats and coercion to command obedience. It all depends on the leader’s objectives, the needs of the organization, the nature of the mission, and the skills, knowledge, attitudes, and emotional states of the followers. There is no magic recipe, and the more methods a leader has at her disposal to get others to follow her, the greater her range of effectiveness.

The final important element in this definition of leadership is that there is a mission. Leadership is only exercised in the context of some form of purpose or goal. If you’re just trying to influence others to like you or to hang out with you, there is nothing wrong with that. But that isn’t leadership. Leadership is goal-oriented.

© 2016 Richard Martin. Reproduction, forwarding and quotes 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.

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.

Two essential skills of highly effective leaders are the ability to assess the morale and mood of their team, and the ability to maintain morale in the face of difficulties and obstacles. This is something I talk about extensively in my new book, Brilliant Manoeuvres: How to Use Military Wisdom to Win Business Battles.

Morale is the willingness of an individual, team or organization to win and to succeed. Many people confuse true morale with superficialities such as mood. They take good humour and happy, peaceful feelings as signs of good morale when they are nothing but an adjunct to morale, and a peripheral one at that.

In other words, just because people complain, it doesn’t mean that morale isn’t good. Strong morale is built upon unity of purpose and action, determination to succeed and cohesion in the face of opposition, disruptions, uncertainty, friction and obstacles.

How is the morale in your team?

  • Do you sense that people in your team 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?

How is the mood in your organization?

  • Are people happy to be working together? Do they joke around or are they morose?
  • Do people complain a lot in your organization? What do they complain about? Do they complain about superficial things and minor creature comforts, or are they more focused on substantial issues?
  • Do people feel free to approach management with issues, or do they let them fester and lead to grievances?
  • Are people making suggestions to improve things as a whole, so the team can achieve its mission and goals, or are they focused on their own issues to the exclusion of the team’s?
  • Is there a major discrepancy in perks and privileges between management and the rank and file of the organization? Large differences in this regard can breed resentment and anger in employees and lower level managers.

© 2012 Richard Martin

Tolstoy’s novel Anna Karenina starts with one of the most famous lines in all of modern literature: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” In the case of family businesses though, we can safely assert that most of the unhappy ones tend also to be unhappy in the same way. It usually boils down to who gets how much and who is in charge of what.

When the founder of a company brings family members into the business, this can increase the potential for internal conflict by a significant factor. One of the most common manifestations of this phenomenon occurs when the owner—usually, but not always, the father—offers management positions to some or all of his children. When the children are also part owners of the business, the problems compound. And when the company transitions to new leadership, as when the founder retires and selects one of the siblings to run the company, the potential for conflict goes through the roof.

Here is a case in point from my own consulting practice. A younger sibling was appointed as general manager of a small company while an older sibling continued in a subordinate managerial position within the structure. The older sibling was somewhat miffed at not being considered for a higher position, especially that of general manager. The older sibling was starting to take out that frustration on the younger sibling. Conversely, the younger one was starting to act in a dictatorial manner in order to make clear to everyone “who the boss is.” A rivalry that had been seething beneath the surface for years now had the potential to erupt into a volcano of disruption that the company could ill afford.

The younger sibling had the foresight to get my advice about managing the working relationship. My advice was simple: “You are the boss, so act like it. That doesn’t mean to be insensitive or harsh, but you are the one who has to answer to ownership for the company’s results, not your sibling. We need to talk together to ensure that you both know where you stand and the dynamics of your personal relationship don’t hinder the dynamics of your business relationship.” Is that a tall order? Perhaps, but what are the alternatives?

The key method I advocate for dealing with these issues is what I call ‘The Outsider Test of Behavior.’ Simply put, if a family member is behaving or performing in a manner that would be deemed unacceptable for an employee or manager that doesn’t have a familial relationship with the company’s ownership or senior leadership, then that behavior or performance is probably unacceptable, even though that person is one of the family.

Therefore, if family members have an ownership stake or occupy various management positions within the company hierarchy, they still have to let whoever is in management do their job, whether those people are family members or not. They can’t just decide to change things because they happen to have a familial relationship. Nor can they question the authority of other executives and managers, reverse decisions unilaterally, or otherwise disrupt the good functioning of the company, all simply because they happen to have the ‘right’ DNA.

The company has a fiduciary responsibility to employees, clients, suppliers, and financial backers (e.g. the bank and outside investors), and family members have to work within that reality. If they are part of ownership, they can exercise their responsibilities as shareholders through the board of directors (if they are a member) or at the annual meeting, just like any other shareholder. If they are part of management, they have to exercise their managerial functions and carry out their responsibilities in the same manner as any other manager in the company, all the while respecting proper rules of authority, responsibility, and decorum. They should also be held accountable for performance and behavior just like any other member of the company.

Of course, all this assumes that the family member who is in a managerial position within a family business is actually capable of exercising the functions of that position. If not, then the CEO or senior manager overseeing that person must work with the rest of the management team, ownership, and possibly the board, to ensure that that person is either removed from a position of authority, or removed completely from the company.

All of this can be very hard on the family member who has the ultimate leadership responsibilities, whether it is still the founding family member or the one who has succeeded the founder. It can also be hard on family members who are in positions or who have ownership stakes that they feel are unjust given their status within the family or self-perceived capabilities. But like I said above, what is the alternative, run the company into the ground?

Family members who are privileged to be involved in a successful business should realize how lucky they are to be in that position. Most people aren’t born on third base, much less second or first, so the situation must be seen for what it is: a great opportunity for individual and collective growth in a win-win dynamic, not a bone of contention within a scarcity mentality.

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

Suddenly in Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around

by Roberta Matuson

2011, Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 240 pp

Note – the Kindle version of this book is on sale all this month for $1.99.

Suddenly in Charge is billed on the cover as “The New Manager’s All-in-One Guide to Shine from Day One,” and it does not disappoint. First-time author and consultant Roberta Matuson has written the bible for all those employees who get thrust into management positions without all the necessary preparation, and in some cases without much support from their superiors and organizations. In many cases these people have received little or no training or development to do the difficult job of leading others.

I served for over 25 years in the Canadian Army. Before I “got the keys to the car” as a young officer, I had to undergo a grueling yearlong course in leadership, decision-making, planning, and management. After that, during my first leadership opportunity as a 23-year-old platoon commander, I was surrounded by mentors and had the support of my team of NCOs.

Unfortunately, most organizations provide nowhere near the same level of training and support to first-time managers and subordinates. This book, though, goes a long way to providing detailed guidance and advice to new managers. Although the book is subtitled Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around, it is really about the nitty-gritty of day-to-day leadership in the organizational trenches.

I was particularly impressed by the author’s organization of the book into two distinct sections. The first part of the book deals with the delicate art of “managing up.” In this section there are chapters on, among other things, adapting to your boss’s management style, navigating the storm-tossed seas of office politics, and dealing with a bad boss. Needless to say, these are topics that are not often covered in books about managing and leading. However, they are a reality in all organizations. With Matuson’s guidance, no new manager need be in the fog when it comes to these arcane matters. There is even detailed advice on asking for (and getting) a raise.

The second part of the book focuses on “managing down.” In other words, this is the fine art of leading one’s own subordinates. The reader will find a well rounded look at the various aspects of managing and leading a team, everything from making a good first impression on acceding to the exalted functions of manager/supervisor, to acquiring talent, conducting performance reviews, and that bane of every manager’s existence, firing.

My two favourite chapters are are the ones respectively on dealing with difficult employees and gaining the respect of subordinates. These two chapters are worth the price of the book, in my opinion. I once had a commanding officer in the Army who told us that the secret to leadership was to be respected, not loved. Matuson fearlessly addresses this issue. In the process, she also shows that the key to getting respect is giving it, though without caving in or doing the work of subordinates or trying to be their friend.

In conclusion, Roberta Matuson has written what I believe will prove to be the classic work on managing and leading for new managers. If you are a new manager, it’s a must-have. If you are appointing or leading or mentoring new managers, it’s also a must-have. And if you are veteran manager, there is also much here that you can use in your day-to-day management and leadership.

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

Bad behaviour needs to be changed, and apologizing is a good place to start.

If we accept that apologizing is necessary in personal relationships and to uphold basic rules of civility, why wouldn’t we expect it in the workplace, especially from a boss? I commanded units in the Canadian Army as an officer and apologized on occasion for losing my temper or for having exercised poor judgment. We’re not talking every week, but it happened a few times in my 26-year career. I also saw it done by others. It can clear the air and set the conditions for a new start if done properly.

Apologizing may be a good way of communicating awareness of a problem and that one intends to do something about it. I’m not talking about “I’ve been unfaithful and sinned” type of apology in front of everyone. But if someone genuinely realizes the negative consequences of their actions and that they have hurt people, then they should make amends. This could involve taking individuals aside or starting the weekly management team meeting with an acknowledgment of his misbehaviour and his intention to change.

To me, apologizing is the obverse of foregiveness. It isn’t the end point, but I also think that apologizing can allow a clean break with the past. It can also lead to actual remorse, as perpetrators must face the people they’ve abused or hurt. That can contribute to meaningful change.

© 2010 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes authorized with proper attribution.

Apple’s (and ATT’s) difficult introduction of the iPhone 4 should be seen by the company as warning signals. Instead, Jobs and company seem rather more interested in minimizing problems and taking their customers for granted. Case in point: When faced with reception problems with the new iPhone, Jobs tells people to “hold it different.” Really? That’s the best you can do?

I’m a big Apple fan. I have a Macbook Pro and an iPhone. However, I am seeing behavior that is classic in business. Success breeding arrogance. Maybe we should state it as a new law of nature. Meanwhile, Google is coming on strong with Android, on both phones and tablets, and other manufacturers are not giving up terrain so easily, such as RIM.

This is the perfect opportunity to move in on Apple’s turf. The technical know how and design can be created by others. The advantages that Apple has had are not forever. They have to keep moving forward and, especially, not take their admirers and customers for granted.

© 2010 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes permitted with proper attribution.