Culture and challenge

When I was deployed to Bosnia as part of a NATO peacekeeping mission, minefields were something we came across fairly regularly.  They were marked in a range of ways - some had the fairly obvious skull and crossbones on a red triangle and even if you couldn’t read the Cyrillic underneath, it didn’t take much imagination to work out that if you were on the side of the sign without writing then your day had taken a turn very much for the worse.  

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Adam O'DonnellComment
Do you serve to lead?

The biggest difference I’ve observed consistently between the corporate world and the military is how we view leadership.

From the moment an Officer Cadet arrives at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS), an institution that has in one form or another trained the British Army’s Officers for over 200 years, it’s drummed into them that their role is simple - it’s to serve those they lead.

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Adam O'DonnellComment
In defence of Command and Control

I’m told that at one point in time Every breath you take by The Police was one of the most popular choices by couples for their wedding dance.  When I heard that, I found myself wondering if any of them deliberately chose it because it’s a song about an obsessive stalker that Sting, the band’s frontman, wrote after separating from his wife and who regards its messages of sadistic jealousy and controlling possession as (in his own words) nasty and evil.  Or maybe they chose it just because they liked the tune…

So while we’re on the topic of misunderstandings, the term “Command and Control” seems to be copping a bit these days.

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Adam O'Donnell Comment
The most important thing I learned in the military

A question from an audience member at a recent speaking engagement really got me thinking.  He simply asked me "what's the most important thing you learnt in the Army that transfers to your corporate life?"

Sure, we got to do lots of cool stuff like jump out of airplanes and abseil out of helicopters but as transferrable skills goes, they’ve got to be fairly low on the list of things I’d ever put on my resume.

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Ditch the "Feedback Sandwiches"

What do your employees or subordinates feel when you ask the question “can I give you a little bit of feedback?"
 
Do they lean forward, eager for some morsel of insight that will bring light to a dark corner of their self-awareness or do they sigh inwardly and prepare themselves for the infliction of death by 1000 character flaws and stuff-ups?

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Adam O'DonnellComment
There's more to strategy than vision, guts & passion

I was leading a workshop for a group of GMs & CEOs recently when the subject of strategy came up.  It appeared that within the group there were strategies for everything – we had personal effectiveness strategies, time management strategies, strategies to stop smoking and even strategies to de-clutter and simplify life.  Then there were sales strategies, marketing strategies and customer service strategies to name but a few. But there was little actual strategy.

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Adam O'DonnellComment
Eliminate overwhelm by focusing on your Main Effort

I was talking to a client this morning who had a classic case of the ‘overwhelms’ and even if you haven’t suffered from it, you’ll probably have seen the symptoms in others.  It's that feeling that the problems you’re facing are so big and so complex that the temptation to do absolutely nothing is, well, overwhelming.

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Adam O'DonnellComment
The difference between average and elite? One percent

Almost every time I speak or run any sort of leadership development workshop I hear some variation on the same two questions.  The first is “do you know Bear Grylls?” and the second is “what’s the difference between the SAS and the rest of the Army?”

The answer to the first question is “not any more” and the answer to the second is “just one percent”.

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Adam O'Donnell Comment
Know the rules well & break them effectively

OK, so not everything in business has to be about innovation, creativity and 'thinking outside the box'.  Sometimes rigid processes and rules are really useful for both the organisation and the customer.  This wasn’t one of those times.

If you want your business to be efficient and streamlined, give your staff processes and procedures.  If, on the other hand, you want your people to be innovative and creative in how they solve problems and create customers who are raving fans, tell them when it’s ok to not follow them.

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Adam O'DonnellComment
What Impression Are Your Staff Making?

As readers of my previous post will know, I was on holiday last week and it was two weeks of utter relaxation.  I flew back into Melbourne last Sunday and headed off to find our taxi.  Picture two parents with two large bags and a pram holding a less-than-happy child waiting for the lift.  The lift arrives and the doors open, as do the cargo area doors at the far end of the lift whereupon a security guard enters, holds up his hand in the style so beloved of traffic policemen everywhere and orders us to “just wait”.  I think to myself that perhaps he missed “Dealing With The Public (Who Pay My Wages) Skills 101”.

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Your Words Become Your Actions

I overheard an interesting conversation on the train a few days ago. I don’t normally eavesdrop private conversations on public transport, however on that day my headphones were buried deep in my bag and this girl had a particularly penetrating voice. Then she made a startling proclamation that stopped my attempts to ignore her – I simply had to know more! 

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Second Amongst Equals

Here’s a question for you – who captained Australia in the 2011 Rugby World Cup?

Easy enough – it was James Horwill, and even if you spent the Spring of 2011 in total isolation then a quick look on Google would have thrown up the answer (actually 207 million answers, or thereabouts).

Now something a bit more difficult – who was Horwill’s vice-captain? His “right-hand man”?

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