Tag Archives: Teams

Marine Corps. Leadership: Seek and Take Responsibility

“In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

It has been said, that if you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got. But I want to alter it slightly. If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always be what you’ve always been. You can’t ever be more than what you are currently if you don’t expand yourself beyond what you are currently doing.

What is more, if we are not expanding ourselves, it is safe to assume that our subordinates are not either. People will mirror what they see, not what they hear. We must take time to look beyond where we are, and what we are currently doing to ask the question, where do I want to go, and what do I need to do to get there? Once we identify those tasks, those responsibilities, we must take action.

When we take those actions, when we stretch ourselves to make our team or organization better, we will be able to encourage those  we lead to follow our example as we coach them through the process.

3 Checkpoints To Taking Greater Responsibility:

1. Learn what is next – If you were to grow, or move forward what would it take to successfully exist there? Like wise, if you were to promote a subordinate, what would it take for them to succeed in that position?  If they wait to learn  that once they get there, it will be too late.

2. Partner with a subordinate on a task – While this seems minimal, it serves a greater purpose than the accomplishment of the task. This exercise will help you see how the subordinate works, and how you can better lead and coach them. Like wise, have your high performers do this with piers to hone their leadership skills.

3. Push for excellence – As leaders, if we cannot excel in what we are currently doing, what makes us think that we will excel in the future? The bad or disruptive habits we have now will still exist in the future, unless we do something about them now. If you have a subordinate who excels in what they do currently, rather than promoting them and giving them a whole new set of responsibilities, give them a portion of that position to see how they would handle it.

What are some other checkpoints towards greater responsibility? 

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Marine Corps. Leadership: Employ Your Command With in Its Capabilities

Could you list your team's strengths and weaknesses?

Could you list your team’s strengths and weaknesses?

“There is no substitute for accurate knowledge. Know yourself, know your business, know your men.” – Lee Iacocca

If our teams are going to succeed, it is because they have been set up for success. When a leader is not aware of a team’s strengths, weaknesses, and limitations, they are less likely to employ them accordingly, increasing their potential for failure.

When teams or individuals experience failure because their abilities and limitations were not first considered, it causes even more frustration and angst, which leads to decreased motivation and poorer performance. This is not to say that a leader can not give them a task that is beyond their capabilities, however this should be communicated and expectations should be set accordingly. In order for leaders to avoid these issues, they must first assess their teams strengths, areas where they will naturally excel; assess their weaknesses, areas where they experience greater difficulty; and then take measures to increase ability, training in areas of strengths and management of weaknesses, as well as reviewing and working through possible, future situations.

Assessing a Team’s Strengths:

  1. Strengths Finder 2.0 – This tool allows you to gain a perspective into a persons top five strengths. While the list of themes (strengths) is broad and general in listing, the assessment creates a unique report for each individual. Meaning two team members may have the same strength, but how those strengths are used and reported will be different.
  2. Myers Briggs – This assessment helps identifies a team members personality. While this may not seem like an out-right strength, knowing their personality will reveal in which situations they will most likely excel.
  3. DiSC – This assessment is another form of a personality test, however rather than sharing an individual’s personality type the DiSC assessment reveals how a person will operate and interact with in a team.
  4. One on One & Performance Reviews – While this tool will cover a multitude of needs, a one on one will allow a leader to assess where the team member is excelling and where they are falling behind. An aware leader should be able to decipher  an individuals area of strengths through these meetings.

Assessing a Team’s Weaknesses:

  1. Identify repeated areas of struggle – If a team member is struggle to complete a certain task, it is likely there is a component of that task that is a struggle for the team member. Do not automatically assume that the given task is an area of weakness, but rather seek to pinpoint the area or areas of struggle. Doing this will help you better understand where to employ team members, where not to employ, or even to cut a member if their areas of weakness are a team’s core competency.
  2. Review personality assessments – Generally speaking, one personality is no better than the other. However, there will always be trade offs with a given personality. A person will be able to stay secluded and focused on a task, but will appear to be less of a team player. When we better understand team members personalities we will ultimately understand who they are, and who they will not be.

Take Measures to Increase Ability:

  1. Have a goal/growth plan – This will allow leaders and team members to set desired objectives and map out actions to be take to achieve growth.
  2. Identify possible hurdles – No path is paved with perfection. If leaders and team members can identify possible problems before they are problems, they will be able to create solutions to over come those  issues, once they arrive with relative ease.

What have you done to effectively assess strengths and weaknesses, as well as increase overall ability?

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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: Guiding

Do you guide or drive?

First, let me define “driving” for this post. There are many types of “drives” we could talk about, for example it is good to push and drive a team towards excellence but that’s not the type of drive I’m talking about. For this post drive should be seen as: forcefully pushing, with out much fore or after thought for the person or group.

The longer I lead the more clearly the differences between guiding and driving become. As a teacher it is extremely easy to be a driving force, shoving information down the throats of students. Recently I’ve tried to guide my students not to learn more information, but rather to be better students. What they learn in 7th and 8th grade will be forgotten, trust me, I had to re-learn (or learn for the first time) all the information I have to cover. But if they can learn how to be a good student and develop those habits now, they will stick with them for the rest of their lives.  A guiding leader is focused on their team members and culture because they know a healthy team produces healthy results.

7 Differences Between Guiding & Driving

Guiding leaders mirror the actions and attitudes they desire to see from their team members.
Driving leaders demand their subordinates to act how they want them to act regardless of how they themselves act.

Guiding leaders see ahead to the possible dangers their team might face.
Driving leaders look ahead and only see the possible dangers they might face.

Guiding leaders are proactive.
Driving leaders are reactive.

Guiding leaders are servant leaders.
Driving leaders are “serve me” leaders.

Guiding leaders know their team members.
Driving leaders expect their subordinates to know them.

Guiding leaders are constantly seeking information.
Driving leaders believe they have all the information.

Guiding leaders lead toward intrinsic values.
Driving leaders manipulate with extrinsic consequences.

What would you add?

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