There is an organization that exists that begins training its people about the traits and principles a leader should possess in order to be an effective leader from the day those people join that organization. That organization thrives on recruiting young people with no experience what-so-ever, but they are of high moral standards. After about a year of training, that organization places those young professionals in charge of as many as 40+ people. Many of whom are no more than 22 years of age. The leadership traits and principles those young professionals learned over that year of training are not quickly forgotten, but instead are at the forefront of everything they do on a daily basis. Moreover, the expectations they must meet in order to be effective leaders doesn’t just come from those they report up to, but even more so from the people who report to them, because the leadership traits and principles they are held to are trained at every level of that organization, thus creating a culture of accountability, and more importantly, leaders. To top it all off, these young professionals become leaders of highly proficient and productive teams that operate at optimal levels of efficiency. Excellence is a standard, not an aspiration. High morale, pride, and purpose are widespread AMONG those who populate this organization. Initiative and decision making are pushed to the lowest levels of execution. I have met and worked with people at the lowest levels of this organization who have said they would be willing to take a bullet for those at the highest ranks of this organization, because those people at lower levels know that many of those leaders would sacrifice their own WELL-BEING for those they lead. How many of you would be willing to do that for your leaders in your organization? Do you think a business would be successful if it developed its people in a similar fashion? I think so.
The organization I just described is the United States Marine Corps, of which I had the honor of serving in for five years as an officer. And for the past twelve years, I have worked with many types of businesses and organizations, ranging from blue collar industrial businesses to corporate operations and even IT. The one common theme I have witnessed across the board is the absence of organizations that develop their people anywhere close to the way the Marines Corps does. It is this absence that has compelled me to become a leadership coach, and to write, speak, and work with today’s millennials and young professionals. Unfortunately, many of today’s senior leaders have no desire to change. They’ve found enough financial success exercising poor leadership that there is no incentive to learn a better way to lead. They know how to run a business and keep it profiting, but I believe they are missing out on the potential their businesses can achieve and ultimately the potential their people can achieve for them. Even worse is the quality of leaders we send to government positions, but that’s another story. You get the picture. We have far too many poor examples of leaders who outnumber the good examples to the point we often look past or not trust the good leaders.
The business world is like a fruit tree whose fruit have all withered so much for so long that we have all grown to accept those fruit as the standard. We have reduced ourselves to looking for the organization that suck the least, and label them as good places to work. Or, just as bad, they pay well enough that we are willing to accept how rotten those fruits may be. And yes, I have eaten that same rotten fruit as you. That is why I am focusing on you. You are the future. You are the CEOs of tomorrow. You are the key to breaking this trend. We must plant new seeds in more fertile soil in order to produce the leaders the world needs for our futures to be more fruitful.
Unfortunately, you don’t have the examples leading you to show you how to become a good leader. You have smart managers, experts with strong business acumen who have learned to lead by the authority of their titles and positions and less from a place of true influence and inspiration. I do hope that there are some of you who have leaders to the contrary of what I am describing, and I am not blind to the fact that some organizations and leaders do exist, or are indeed good. They are just too few and far between. You have to discover the right ways to lead on your own.
Even many of the leadership programs and content out there teach more about tools you can use to be more effective, but neglect the most important part; you must become a leader first, before you wield any such tools. It’s like handing a tool box to someone and asking them to be a better mechanic using the tools in the tool box when they aren’t a mechanic to begin with. This is also a result of the gap in leadership today. Many leaders of organizations go for such programs because they are cheap and easy to duplicate as they experience high turnover of employees. Ironic, the very thing they try to prevent (loosing good people) is the very thing they plan for when choosing a leadership development program.
In the coming days and weeks, I am going to review each of the eleven leadership principles of the Marine Corps. Yes, you can look them up here, but I will list them below, and I intend to add, in follow-on posts, is how you, the young professional or millennial, can apply these in your career growth and your growth as a leader. Whether you are an individual contributor at the moment, or newly promoted, or even promoted for some time now, I want to help you give perspective to these principles in order to help you find the right path to becoming a leader. I will describe how these translate to civilian tongue, and how you may apply these principles in order to make them innate in your daily actions. I invite you to comment, ask questions, share, and generate discussions around these principles.
The 11 Leadership Principles of the U.S. Marine Corps:
“Become the leader that tomorrow needs you to be.”
I LOOK FORWARD TO SHARING MORE THOUGHTS AROUND THESE PRINCIPLES WITH YOU IN POSTS TO COME!
Leadership Coach, Author, Trainer, Speaker
Agoge Leadership Development
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