Tag Archives: Team

Marine Corps. Leadership: Know Your People and Look Out For Their Welfare

Effectively utilizing a team is like putting together a puzzle. Each pieces has a proper place.

Effectively utilizing a team is like putting together a puzzle. Each pieces has a proper place.

“Patriotism is easy to understand in America. It means looking out for yourself by looking out for your country.” – Calvin Coolidge

In any position of leadership, success is dependent on the team. Teams can only rise to the level of their leadership. This does not happen automatically, but rather with intentional investment from the leader.

An effective team is diverse, this is where leading a team can become overwhelming. Leaders must observe each team member, identifying their strengths, weaknesses, and comfort zones. We must use this information to effectively assign tasks, responsibilities, and exercises for growth. If we can accomplish this responsibility, those we lead will experience success individually and as a team.

Knowing each of our team members is only the start of the process.

As our team develops we must make sure we:

1. Know their morale: If the morale of your team is low, getting it back up must be a priority. Morale is connected with momentum. If morale is low, expect momentum to be minimal.  Improved morale must come before increased momentum.

2. Celebrate their success: We must not let success go unnoticed. What gets celebrated gets repeated. If we want our team to continue in its development, we must make sure we celebrate the success of the team as well as the success of the individual.

3. Cultivate honesty: We must create an environment that removes the fear of owning up to a lacking or wrong doing, while maintaining the integrity of proper consequences. As leaders, our responses must be controlled, and our judgments must be just.

4. Encourage self-improvement: As stated earlier, what gets celebrated gets repeated. Utilize incentive programs for self-improvement. Also, develop accountability into the process. As the saying goes, “people do what you inspect, not what you expect.”

What else would you add?

What would you consider to be the most difficult part of leading a team?

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Leadership is: Listening

Hearing words is not the same as understanding them.

“The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.” – Ralph Nichols (interesting interview w/ Ralph Nichols)

Beneficial communication consist of two parts: sharing & receiving. It seems for most, that sharing, or talking, is far easier for the average person than receiving, or listening, is.  Also, since we’ve already discussed some healthy sharing habits in an earlier post, lets look at some healthy listening habits.

1. Forming a response, while another person is sharing, is not listening. Conversations move quickly, and they move even faster when more people are involved. It is possible that if we don’t form our response quickly we will miss our opportunity to share our insight. The problem with this perception is that our listening is still about us. Listening must be about the other person. If the conversation passes us by, and we believe our thought/response is beneficial, we can revisit it in the conversation, or say it later to the person one on one.

This leads us to our next habit:

2. Processing, or contextualizing, what another person is saying is crucial for communication. When we combine prior and current information we’ve received from the person with whom we are communicating, it allows us to understand better what it is they are saying. Also, we must listen to HOW they are saying it. It has been said that two-thirds of all communication is non-verbal. If this is true, we must listen to their tone and watch their body language. Paul Ekman discusses this practice in his book: Emotions Revealed: Recognizing Faces and Feelings to Improve Communication and Emotional Life


3. Forming our response should not be based on who we are, but rather who the speaker is. We share with the hope that people will respond to what we’ve shared, others are no different. We must format our responses based on who they are so that one, they know they’ve been heard and two, so we can give a proper response. While this doesn’t seem to be an outright listening habit, the reality is we must listen to find out what type of person they are. This way our response can be a proper one.

This 2007 Bloomberg Business Week article has some more great leadership listening suggestions!

What listening habits help you listen better

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