20 November 2017


By Andy Weddington
Monday, 20 November 2017

There is always safety in valor. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Last evening, shortly before Taps, arrived an email from a Marine pal encouraging 12 minutes without interruption to watch a YouTube.

Appreciating this Marine rarely sends links and when doing so only matters of merit, I set aside my reading and watched.

Turns out the video, a Ted Talk, was a second less than 12 minutes.

The presentation by Simon Sinek, delivered in March 2014, was about leadership and a theory he developed.

In short, Mr. Sinek opened with a story about the battlefield (Afghanistan) heroics of U. S. Army Captain William D. Swenson recognized by award of the Medal of Honor. 

Then came his theory that revolved around three words: Danger; Safe; Trust. 

Through research and many a conversation with warriors and successful business "warriors," Mr. Sinek heard a common theme -  he concluded good leaders make you feel safe (from danger) and trust is critical.

Back to Mr. Sinek momentarily.

Last week I had an impromptu conversation with a young captain from a sister service who had just completed a required service-specific leadership course - a distinguished graduate, at that. 

I asked, "So did you learn anything you can use at your school?"

And there was an uncomfortable pause before "Yes, Sir."

"Okay. So what is your service's leadership model?"

And then came a term and description thereof of something unfamiliar - Full Range Leadership Model (FRLM). (I later looked it up on Google.)

After not hearing anything familiar (as to leadership), I asked the following ...

"So, how many Marines in the course?" 

"None. Just our service."

"Where does 'leadership-by-example' and 'officers eat last' fall out on your Full Range Model?" 

A pause followed by a hand gesture indicating "... somewhere out here under personal fulfillment ...". 

I'm not sure the meaning of personal fulfillment - something I do not recall being included in Marine Corps leadership. 

And at that I offered a few minutes of PME on Marine Corps leadership 101 - by example and officers eating last - and leading infantry Marines.

The captain listened. But clearly has not spent time around Marines.   

Since that conversation I've spent considerable time thinking about that young officer's comments, what I read about FRLM, listened to from Mr. Sinek, and all in the context of Marine Corps leadership Traits and Principles. 

Too I remembered  a simple model I put together decades ago ...

L - Look / Listen / Learn (see and hear what is going on; improve)

E - Example / Engage / Enable (set example in thought, word and deed; participate; enable subordinates to follow and lead; eat last)

A - Act / Approve / Applaud (take responsibility; approve direction; applaud successes)

D - Decisive / Decorate / Discipline (make decisions; decorate publicly; discipline privately) 

Simple. A philosophy for leadership in action (because leadership is not a position but a choice, an action).

Marines lead by sharing in the danger - which builds trust and confidence and therefore (relative) safety. 

Trust, as Mr. Sinek points out, is key.

Through trust comes a sense of safety - from sundry danger. 

To my Marine pal ...

"Good. This talk explains why Hillary Clinton lost two bids for the presidency. No one trusted her and she not only did not trust anyone she ate (literally and figuratively) first. And "safe"? No one is safe around the Clinton's. "Leadership is not a position but a choice." Stephen Covey" 

With that Marine closing the loop ...

"And it's "as simple as that."" 

Yes it is. 

In closing, 

Captain Swenson's Citation ...

And ...

"Choice" - a word used by Mr. Sinek, too. 

Take 11:59 ... https://youtu.be/lmyZMtPVodo 

Leadership is a verb! 


Jijm Bathurst said...

LOL, another service has "invented a better mousetrap," AGAIN! It always amazes me when some one or some organization redefines that sacred word -- Leadership. Yet our Corps just keeps chugging along with the 11 and 14. If your readers ask what those numbers mean, just sum up all 25 with, as you so correctly stated Andy, "eat last." Psst, I bet I know the which "sister service."

A Colonel of Truth said...

Colonel Bathurst, I bet you do know the “sister service.” But, Sir, let’s remain gentlemanly and not unmask them.

Jijm Bathurst said...

LOL, we think and know alike Andy! Yes, let everyone guess.

Tom H. said...

The best definition of leadership I've come across is; "Leadership is an influence relationship between leader(s) and followers who desire real change which reflects their mutual purposes." Notice the word "influence," vice the word "authority." Authority is all about seniors and subordinates, and "Management."
Inherent in your "LEAD" model and, indeed the underpinnings essential to its effectiveness are 7 core values; Integrity, Courage, Gratitude, Purpose-Driven, Self-Discipline, Compassion, and Humility. While it may seem counter-intuitive, the value of Humility is what separates good leaders from the truly great ones, and which makes possible sustained excellence in an organization.

A Colonel of Truth said...

A nice complement, Sir (Tom H.). Appreciate the addition. Happy Thanksgiving!