Tag Archives: Leadership

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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Marine Corps. Leadership: Set The Example

As leaders, we can never underestimate the power of our example.

As leaders, we can never underestimate the power of our example.

“Example is leadership.” – Albert Schweitzer

There are two sayings that have served as great reminders about leadership example: “The wrong I do in moderation they will do  in excess,” and “People will only be half as excited and enthusiastic as I am.”

When leaders take liberties that are not afforded to them by the organization, their subordinates or team members will soon do the same. If a leader doesn’t act supportive of a new initiative, neither will their team members. Leaders not only set expectations, they set the example.

This doesn’t mean that a leader will be, or even can be perfect. However, we as leaders must make sure we do all that we can to maintain the integrity of our leadership and the integrity of the organization.

6 ways we can BE the example:

1. Be competent with your responsibilities – When leaders are not competent with information or their responsibilities they communicate that it is OK for everyone to be incompetent.

2. Be willing to do what you’ve asked others to do – Southwest Airlines founder, Herb Kelleher, helped his employees load luggage on Thanksgiving day. Being the example means not always being the exception. Sometimes you have to be what you want to see.

3. Be optimistic – It is easy to look at all the negative. Leaders encourage their people that the prize is greater than the obstacles and is wroth the effort.

4. Be just – When we make too many exceptions for other people, or even ourselves, others start to believe they are the exceptions as well.

5. Be on – It is no secret that professional life and personal life greatly affect one another; however, as leaders, our work environment is not the place for us to take out our frustrations with our personal lives. Successful leaders have coaches, counselors, or peer groups to help them be all there, wherever ever they are.

6. Believe in others – Collaboration leads to innovation. We must be willing to collaborate and invest ourselves into others, if we are going to expect those under our influence to do the same.

What else would you add?

Who has led you by example, that you really appreciated? 

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