Friday, July 24, 2009
This from our local Fishwrap, the Ventura Daily Star.......
President Barack Obama recently decided to send 21,000 additional U.S. military personnel to Afghanistan in hopes of being a “game changer” by eliminating insurgent strongholds. Not surprisingly, the first U.S. servicemen and women to arrive were approximately 10,000 U.S. Marines.
Hanson Baldwin of The New York Times once wrote: “The U.S. Marines bear upon their shoulders the nation’s past and the nation’s hope for the future.” But what precisely are those special qualities that American presidents have seen in the Corps that makes them often turn to the Marines first when it is necessary to send American troops into harm’s way?
Upon close examination, these attributes bear remarkable similarity to leadership crucibles that high-performance organizations can adapt in their own environment here at home. Refined over 200 years of bravery and sacrifice, here are six of the most important principles embraced by the U.S. Marines:
— Consistently delivering results: an unshakable “can do” attitude and relentless passion to exceed the goal.
— Never quitting, living out the motto, “lead, follow or get out of the way.”
— An enduring service culture characterized by: above self, a fiercely proud tradition, honor, discipline, humility and a promise never to leave anyone behind.
— Always ready, a remarkable, adaptive and persevering ability, a trained flexibility to overcome any obstacle, to do more with fewer resources than others.
— Where leadership is consistently and transparently held to a higher standard than the rest of the organization, to always “carry the torch” and be paragons of inspiration to their troops.
— No better friend, unafraid of admitting shortcomings and always committed to make it right.
The Marines’ talent engine is one worth emulating as there is much to be learned. They assign their best to recruiting for a fixed period of time. How many businesses can say the same about the way they scout for new talent?
Leadership development in the Corps is stressed and all Marines are expected to teach and mentor. How many businesses consider that tutoring and coaching their management are requirements of leadership? The higher the level of Marine officer, the more likely he or she will give all the credit for success to the troops below. How many business leaders practice this today? And, how many executives outlaw serving coffee and snacks in company meetings as part of their cost-cutting initiative, yet continue to enjoy this perk in the C-suite?
Perhaps no Marine distinguished characteristic is more admired than courage, and here, too, the lessons learned are worth noting.
Courage is an expectation that permeates the Marine Corps but it is also a requirement for success in the workplace.
Taking a business into uncharted waters is not for the meek. Neither is competing with fierce, stronger brands or launching new products in a crowded market. That is why the “battlefields of the marketplace” call upon business leaders to be adaptive, nimble, courageous, ethical and inspirational to employees.
And, in the wise words of management guru Warren Bennis, “create and sell us on a vision.”
There is a 135-acre National Museum of the Marine Corps sitting proudly in Quantico, Va. One of the quotations that adorns its walls is from President Lyndon B. Johnson: “I never think of a Marine but what I think of a man who wants to do more, not less; a man you have to hold back, not shove.” Not surprisingly, the University of Pennsylvania’s prestigious Wharton School takes its students to the Marine base to listen, observe and learn how to integrate their leadership lessons into the school’s management curriculum.
We hope and pray for the safety of our men and women in uniform from all branches of the military and that, in due course, our president can reprise the time-honored leadership refrain: “The Marines have landed and the situation is well in hand.”
For today’s business leaders, they, too, can find their situations “well in hand” by taking time to learn from America’s finest.