Marine Corps. Leadership: Develop A Sense of Responsibility Among Your Subordinates

Develop a sense of responsibility by delegating opportunities

Develop a sense of responsibility by delegating opportunities

“Responsibility is  the price of greatness.” – Winston Churchill

It has been said that trust is gained over time but lost in a moment. The amount of  time it takes to earn a leader’s trust is determined by the leader.  Before you start calling me Captain Obvious, really think about that sentence. How long it takes for trust to be built is really determined by you, the leader.

If your subordinates, employees, team members, etc. aren’t at the level of competency to where you can trust them it is because of 1 of 2 reasons. Either they are not capable of being competent of the tasks you desire for them to accomplish, or because they have not been given the opportunity to develop that competency, simultaneously earning your  trust.

This is not to say that once you delegate a task to a subordinate they will automatically and competently complete the task assigned to them. Building competency, trust, and ultimately a sense of responsibility will take time and effort. Andy Stanley, in his new book Deep & Wide, says that they don’t do any type of formal leadership training, rather they promote too soon so that the person will rise to the level of the opportunity.

3 Keys to Creating Competency and Responsibility:

  1. Provide a clear vision and objectives – Most subordinates are not initially inclined to seek out the vision and objectives their boss or leader has for them. In order to develop this sense of responsibility, we must initially provide them with our “picture” of winning.
  2. Involve them on projects – When subordinates are invited to join their leader on a project, there is sense of appreciation and pride they get from being recognized as one who is worthy of the task.
  3. Give them the opportunity to fail – If you’re waiting for a subordinate to be 100% ready, you will always be found waiting. Express your belief in their ability to adapt and rise to the challenge. This will encourage them preform in a way they’ve never have for you before.

As always, this list is not comprehensive, but it is a good start.

What other ways, or methods would you add for creating a sense of responsibility?

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Marine Corps. Leadership: Make Sound and Timely Decisions

When  there is more than one option, how do you choose?

When there is more than one option, how do you choose?

“Use the formula P=40 to 70, in which P stands for the probability of success and the numbers indicate the percentage of information acquired… Once the information is in the 40 to 70 range, go with your gut.” – Colin Powell

It is easy to play “Monday morning quarterback.” As a leader, you will have many second guessing your decisions, even those decisions that were effective and successful. While it maybe unfair for others to second guess decisions after the fact, especially while we were making them in the moment, the truth is it happens from a 20/20 lens.

As leaders we must develop a sense of hindsight during, or even before the moment we make the decisions.

4 Ways to make better decisions:

  1. Focus on what is important – When presented with a variety of choices, our ability to recall stated goals and values, and then match our current options to those values and goals will allow us to weed out which choices are not conducive to our objective.

    Related: Why Older Minds Make Better Decisions

  2. Gather Information – Making informed decisions requires being informed. Leaders should be asking pertinent questions to those who will have the answers they need. Even if the first two questions are: what questions should I be asking, and to whom should I be asking them?
  3. Know your knowledge limits – The world “leader” is not synonymous with “smartest in the room,” much to the chagrin of many autocratic leaders. As leaders people often want us to make the final decision regardless of our knowledge in the area. When this happens seek council from someone who had the necessary skill set to make an informed decision.

    Related: Company Decision Making Doesn’t Need To Start At The Top

  4. Prepare for the decision before you have to make it – As leaders we must be purposeful to set aside time to think forward about possible hurdles; how those hurdles could hurt us; and what actions we need to take to before, during, and after the hurdle pops up.

This is obviously not a comprehensive list, but rather a solid start to improve your decision making.

What helps you make decisions in the moment? 

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Flow of Investment

Flow of Investment

Investing in yourself is the catalyst for being able to invest in all other aspects of life. When you are growing, your family will grow. Which then allows you to invest in your company or organization; which then sets you up to invest in your community.

The order may change based on your circumstances, but you should always be your first investment, for you can not give what you do not have!

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Marine Corps. Leadership: Train Your Marines as a Team

A group of people is not a team. A team is a group of people collectively working towards a common vision.

A group of people is not a team. A team is a group of people collectively working towards a common vision.

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” – Michael Jordan

We’ve all heard the cliche’ sayings about team work: “team work makes the dream work,” or how about “T.E.A.M. – together everyone achieves more”? But the reality is many organizations don’t really understand what “teamwork” is. There are ideas of departments sacrificing for other departments for the greater good of the organization, or meetings where team members tell other team members about the good they’ve seen them do, as well as areas where they could improve.

While there is nothing inherently wrong with those actions, there is much more to teamwork. In order for team work to exist a foundation for team work must be built, then communicated!

In order for team work to exist there must be:

  1. An Unified Purpose: As elementary as this may seem, it is worth stating. Teams must have a purpose to rally around, and work towards together. The key is working towards the goal together. When the vision isn’t made clear, team members will freely work towards their own ends rather than the goals of the organization. There will be times when team members will work towards their own ends regardless, but with a clear vision it is easy to identify those who aren’t moving the team towards its goal.
  2. An Individual Purpose: No, this isn’t a contradiction, rather this is to solidify that individual team members must have an understanding of their own responsibilities. A successful team has different parts. In order for those parts to work together they must know how they individually fit in the scheme of the team.
  3. An Execution of Purpose: Once a team knows its over all objective, and members know their individual objective, there must be an expectation of how all the pieces are going to fit together, moving the team towards the goal. This is accomplished through an understanding of core values, and establishing a culture that makes it difficult to operate outside of those values.

These three pieces are just the foundation of creating and executing teamwork. There could be a month long series on establishing these three, as well as building its frame work. 

How are you establishing unified purpose?

How are you establishing individual purpose?

How do you establish and communicate expectations?

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Marine Corps Leadership: Ensure That The Task Is Understood, Supervised, and Accomplished

"What do you mean you couldn't read my mind?"

“What do you mean you couldn’t read my mind?”

“Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere.” – Ronald Reagan

I have said for the last few years, “unspoken expectations will be unmet expectations every time!” While that might be an extreme statement, it is meant to convey the reality of the principle, tasks must be given with authority and expectations.

There will be limited success if a task is given without the proper authority and expectations. Authority allocates the power needed to accomplish the task, expectations ensure the task will be completed in the desired way.

However, giving the proper amount of authority and expectations only ensures the task or project is started off correctly. In order to ensure it stays on track there must be a level of accountability.

This is where leaders or managers tend to struggle. For most, accountability becomes synonymous with either, micro management or authority. I’ve heard it said, when you delegate a task you get to determine it’s outcome, but not how it looks before it gets there. Micro-management demoralizes and exhaust initiative. Giving authority alone can create anxiety from wondering if what is being done is actually what the leader is wanting done. Or worse, confidence in what is being done is what is desired, only to find out at delivery that the task was completed incorrectly.

Accountability can be a series of direct-report meetings over time,with the leader asking questions to determine the condition of the direct and the status of the task. This process allows the direct to maintain given expectations, or pivot as necessary; as well as giving the leader a clear, over-all understanding of the project, allowing him to encourage or admonish as necessary. Thus being being involved with the project or task through the end, with out having to “manage” every detail.

How do you manage or delegate without micro-managing? 

What keeps leaders from sharing expectations?

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