'Always faithful' at the office

Every organization needs a mission statement, a set of core values and alist of guiding principles that keep all of its component parts moving inthe same direction.

Every organization needs a mission statement, a set of core values and alist of guiding principles that keep all of its component parts moving inthe same direction. And with today's high-speed business transactions, keepingit all moving in the same direction can be a challenge for even the mostskilled organizations.

However, there are not many guidebooks for government managers thatdemonstrate how to transform a stodgy, brittle and slow-moving enterpriseinto a flexible, aggressive and efficient network-based organization. Thereis a way to do just that, and the Marine Corps offers a good example.

The Marine Corps motto, "Semper Fidelis," which is Latin for "alwaysfaithful," has inspired millions to join the world's foremost warfightingorganization and has motivated countless others to rise up through the ranksof that organization and do great things. A book by former Marines Dan Carrisonand Rod Walsh, titled Semper Fi: Business Leadership the Marine Corps Way,gives government managers a guidebook to help their organizations capturethe same esprit de corps.

Semper Fi is written from a different perspective than Corps Business:The 30 Management Principles of the U.S. Marines, by David Freedman [FCW,April 17]. Rather than being a journalist observing Marines in action asFreedman was, Carrison and Walsh are Marines-turned-businessmen. Carrisonis a senior account executive for a leading supplier of automatic tellermachines, while Walsh holds a master's of business administration and has28 years of experience as president of Blue Chip Inventory Service.

The book's chapters cover some of the most basic management issues facingall organizations. From recruiting and training to supervision and managementresponsibilities, readers get the benefit of a logical, step-by-step outlineof how to attract, develop and retain a motivated work force that "wantsto go the extra mile."

But Marines don't like to use the word "management." Management is forpeople who like to hide behind doors and desks and for those who think theyhave a monopoly on truth. Marines, on the other hand, lead. Marine leaderstake an active role in fostering teamwork and a sense of duty throughouttheir organization and regularly take the pulse of those on the front lineswithout compromising or abusing their positions of authority.

The best way to illustrate Carrison and Walsh's view of this is to describesome points under what they call "Leading to Victory: Ten Winning Strategies"(see related story).

Instill Courage

Marine recruits are taught courage through a carefully controlled, incrementalprogram run by a respected leader — in this case, the drill instructor — that instills fear in a measured way, according to Carrison and Walsh. Asa team, they are put through mandatory exercises that first teach them howto tackle the most difficult problems and then challenge them to do so.

"Managers who want to cultivate courage in themselves and in their personnelmust first recognize that there is quite a bit of fear behind the smilingdemeanor of the workplace," Carrison and Walsh write. Moreover, "managementdoesn't always recognize courage as a virtue," according to the authors."While it is eager to praise the determination that gained a customer, managementoccasionally punishes the courageous individual who has lost a customer."

Even whistle-blowers — those who identify fraud, waste and abuse withintheir organizations — should be praised for finding the courage to speakout, according to the authors.

Command from a Forward Position

In the Marine Corps, leaders lead from the front. Marine officers gothrough training that exposes them to the widest range of experiences andtools so that they are never placed in a situation where they must ask oneof their Marines to do something they either cannot or are not willing todo themselves.

Although this is an extreme "motivator" for the troops, "there is simplyno better way to command troops in combat," the authors write. And businessesare in combat every hour of every Internet day. The Marine officer "wantsreal-time information."

Also, by placing yourself in the forward position, you can see for yourselfthe difficulty of fulfilling your own directives. "The more important themission, the more important it is to be at the front," according to Carrisonand Walsh. "All too often, the walls of his office isolate the manager fromthe battlefield of the marketplace, from his customers and from his ownpersonnel."

But one thing Carrison and Walsh do not touch upon are the unforeseenramifications of leading from the front too often. If you are not careful,subordinates can interpret your consistent presence in their domain as asign that you lack confidence in their abilities.

Culture

Carrison and Walsh advise organizations to "instill a fighting man [orwoman]" culture. "It spurs performance, encourages competition and createsthe kind of esprit de corps that inspires individuals to go beyond themselves."Not every unit within an organization is on the "front lines" — some playa supporting role. But every Marine is a rifleman first, which gives eachMarine a unique sense of why all the other parts of the organization exist.

"Those who manage the staff "weenies' must be equally assertive," accordingto Carrison and Walsh, referring to the military's benign characterizationof bean counters, expense clerks and other support staff. "The only peoplewho have "got it soft' are the employees of the competition, who aren'tfortunate enough to be working for the most aggressive, the most efficientand the most demanding company in the industry."

In the Marine Corps, some things never change, and for good reason.

Semper Fi.

NEXT STORY: GSA closing in on WebGov portal

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.