Forging a high-performance culture is a challenging endeavor — a journey that will test an individual’s patience and fortitude. Old habits will need to be traded for new possibilities. Legacy thinking will be abandoned in favor of innovation, and more importantly, the status quo will need to be challenged. The path to building and sustaining high-performing teams is not for the timid.
Leaders must emerge at all levels of an organization. They must model the way and inspire others to believe in and achieve their vision of delivering meaningful services to their clients proficiently and expediently while maintaining the highest degree of integrity. Every organizational team member must demonstrate professional competence to instill the trust, commitment, accountability, and attention to results required to accomplish the mission. The company must have a bias for action, and everyone must insist on artful execution. The collective team must be skilled at “getting things done” while simultaneously being entrusted to make bold decisions at the lowest levels.
Boldness is an essential trait for a leader. Initiative, the willingness to act on one’s judgment, is the prerequisite for such boldness. Are you bold enough to contribute to the decision-making process even though you may be alone in your point of view? Are you courageous?
Leadership, decisiveness, initiative, courage, and boldness are but a few of the traits instilled in members of the armed forces. For example, the Marine Corps’ Fleet Marine Force Manual 1 (FMFM 1), entitled Warfighting, is steeped in the foundational elements needed to forge an unstoppable fighting force. Its messages are clear and concise, written to be understood by the most junior Marine and applicable to all — from private to general. They are the unwavering standards and expectations that all Marines are measured against. It is the ethos that binds them. Surprisingly, one can also apply many of FMFM 1’s core principles to building a premier business, and there is one that can have a quick effect on your decision-making process.
FMFM 1 states, “Relations among all leaders from corporal to general should be based on honesty and frankness, regardless of disparity between grades. Until a commander has reached and stated a decision, each subordinate should consider it their duty to provide their honest, professional opinion even though it may be in disagreement with their senior’s. However, once the decision has been reached, the junior then must support it as if it were their own. Seniors must encourage candor among subordinates and must not hide behind their rank insignia. Ready compliance for the purpose of personal advancement, the behavior of ‘yes-men,’ will not be tolerated.”
Honesty and candor are key; however, such expressions cannot be disrespectful. Suppose your opinion differs from most, or potentially everyone, involved in the process. In that case, a true leader maintains a professional demeanor and offers opposing views until the final decision is made and stated. The “stated” piece is critical. The communication of a decision is essential if all are to support it as if it were their own. Decisions made in a vacuum or not announced carry little value. However, those made after appropriate counsel and effectively cascaded can rally the team, focus efforts, and deliver results.
So going forward, be bold. Add your professional opinion to the discussion, and regardless of the final decision, support it as if it were your own for the team’s benefit. Don’t waste expended efforts on debating a made and stated decision. Instead, insist on execution, hold one another accountable, and stay true to the vision. Success awaits.