Leadership lessons to be learned from the military services, especially from the U.S. Marines
As Helio Fred Garcia correctly notes in the Introduction to his book, “Whatever else leadership may be, it is experienced publicly. While it may emote from within, it is a public phenomenon. A leader is judged on thee fundamental public leadership attributes.” They are bearing (i.e. how the leader carries himself or herself), the words used (i.e. what is said, usually to attract and engage others), and the manner of style by which the leader engages others’ support and involvement. “These are elements of communication…and as leadership discipline, communication benefits from the structures, concepts, and principles of effective leadership” that apply well in the military services and other fields in which leadership is required.
Warfighting: U.S. Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication No. 1 (1995) is Garcia’s primary source as he converts its core principles into guidelines for effective leadership communication, including non-verbal as well as verbal initiatives. He also calls upon more than three decades of advising and coaching leaders and more than two decades of teaching in graduate-level programs at various universities. He also makes extensive use of case studies in which real-world leaders are involved in high-risk/high-stakes real-world situations.
There are no head-snapping revelations in this book, nor does Garcia make any such claim. Its greatest strengths are found within the framework he establishes and develops when presenting his material in the Three Parts:
o Leadership and Communication: Connecting with Audiences (Chapters 1-5)
o Strategy and Communication: Planning and Execution (Chapter 6)
o Building Skills: Getting Good at Communicating Well (Chapters 7-10).
Then in an Appendix, Garcia reviews and discusses “Warfighting Principles for Leadership Communication.” I commend him, also, on his skill use of two reader-friendly device s at the conclusion of each chapter: “Recap: Best Practices from This Chapter” (relevant excerpts from Warfighting) and “Lessons for Leaders and Communicators” in which he reviews key points and poses thought-provoking questions. These communication devices are very effective, both in terms of providing valuable information and serving as examples of how to formulate ideas precisely and concisely.
Inevitably, discussions of “leadership” in the military services evoke images of officers, especially generals, whereas discussions of “leadership” in business evoke images of C-level executives, especially CEOs. Obviously, the material Garcia covers will be of great interest and value to them. However, both in the military services and in the business world, effective leaders are needed at all kevels and in all areas, and their effectiveness will largely depend on their skills as a communicator.
Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out the aforementioned Warfighting: U.S. Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication No. 1. Amazon sells a paperbound edition published by Crown for only $8.49. I also recommend Be•Know•Do: Leadership the Army Way: Adapted from the Official Army Leadership Manual for which Frances Hesselbein and General Eric K. Shinseki (U.S.A. Ret.) wrote an Introduction) and to which Richard E. Cavanagh added a Foreword. Amazon sells a hardbound edition for $16.47. It is also available in a Kindle Edition.