Friday, November 4, 2011

Marine Corps' Leadership

I had the opportunity yesterday to participate in a presentation by the Oklahoma City Marine Corps office on how they might adapt their Leadership program for entrepreneurship and business leadership (see, for example, Semper Fi: Business Leadership the Marine Corps Way).

Among many interesting ideas presented, the following stand out:

  • Career Progression: "A failure of an individual to advance (promotion) is a failure of the unit." or as the presenter remarked, "No one sits at the same desk for 20 years." Too often, we strive for competency - the ability of the person to complete the duties he has now. Businesses work hard to develop their hi-potential candidates, but the rest are left to their own actions. Which leads to the final most useful point they made which is...
  • "The reward for success is greater responsibility". Whether in a business or in your own life, the desire for growth is often driven by the desire for simplicity ("if we increased sales by 20% I could hire a salesman to handle that side of the business" or "if I get that promotion I will have enough money to cover our expenses"), yet the reward for growth means complexity, that is, greater responsibility ("if I have a salesman, I now am responsible for his job, benefits, managing him, etc").

The above two points contrast each other both personally (comfort v. responsibility) and organizationally (stability v. dynamicism). How to create an organization that handles both is something the Marine Corps takes seriously, and so I am very interested to see if they will be able to adapt their program for leadership outside of the corps.

It might be a real good idea to hire a few ex-Marines for your organization!

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