I enjoy inviting people to be guest writers on my blog. I may be attracted to something they are have already written, or something they say, a story they tell, and more often than not, I enjoy who they are as people.
Today, I bring you a guest that meets all these criteria and more, Marty Desmond. I met Marty through Twitter by enjoying his tweets then reading his blog, Corps Values in Business, in which Marty writes about leadership values he learned in the Marine Corps. I have never served in the military, but I was particularly impressed with an article Marty had written on Marine traits and principles.
Marty wrote the following especially for The Intersection of Purpose and Now. Through reading it, I hope you come to appreciate and learn from Marty as I have.
What are your leadership objectives? Do you stop and think about that as you strategize?
As a young Corporal in the U.S. Marine Security Guard Detachment at the American Embassy, Moscow, USSR, I was a nominee for the Marine of the Month board. I got near the end of my session in front of the board, when I was asked to name the leadership objectives of the Marine Corps. Without hesitation, I responded “accomplish the mission and welfare of the troops”. As soon as I said that, I began to think about the 96-hour pass I was about to receive and my plans to spend it in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Maybe it was the glint in my eye or a natural reaction of our detachment commander, but before he dismissed me, he told me he had one more question. He asked me which one was more important, “accomplish the mission and welfare of the troops”. Totally thinking of my 4-day pass, I said welfare of the troops was most important. He told me I was wrong, to which I replied that if I took care of the troops, they would accomplish the mission. He shook his head no and told me that, although I had missed that, I had won the award.
I often think about that story, as I weigh the needs of a team while working on a project. There are times that, as a leader, I must ask people to make sacrifices to get a job done. Perhaps it’s working late or coming in on off days. It may be asking to forgo vacation, or put off training. Whatever the reason, it is my job to motivate them to make that sacrifice.
Going back to my original story, what I have learned is that the more I look out for the welfare of my team, the more likely they are to make those sacrifices. They are more likely to do so because they want to, and not because they must. When they do, they will do better work.
So, how is this accomplished? Five ways I learned as a young Marine are:
- Know your people and look out for their needs
- Utilize your people according to their abilities
- Train your people as a team
- Keep your people informed
- Communicate directives and make sure that tasks are understood, supervised, and carried out.
There are many tools that we have available for managing groups. However, these principles will build a foundation upon which the groups will be effective.