Lessons in Crisis Management from Flight 1549 and the USMC

December 7, 2016 – I’m Mark Hood with Sales Performance International. I wanted to share a few key leadership principles. A bit about my background prior to jumping into that – I did 2 combat tours in the Marine Corps. My responsibility and key leadership components were tested regularly. On top of that, I was on Flight 1549, which crashed in the Hudson River on January 15th, 2009.

Now you might think, “Where is the relationship between business leadership and crashing in the Hudson River?” I would bring you back to, if you’re a leader, that’s a concept you have with you every day, whether it’s in the military, in the business world, or in a life-threatening situation. The key habits you practice allow you to be a successful leader in all three of those situations. Now, I learned my leadership principles in the Marine Corps and I’m going to share them with you. There are ten of them.

Key Habits to be Successful

1. Know yourself and seek self-improvement. This is a very uncomfortable thing for a lot of folks, because no one wants to admit that they’re weak in a specific area. If you hate doing and reviewing expense reports, then this is an area in which you can seek self-improvement and become better at managing your time. That’s just a minuscule example.

2.Develop a sense of responsibility among your employees. How do you do that? You lead by example. You develop a sense of responsibility among your employees, by demonstrating an example of responsibility. In other words, when you tell your employees you’re going to do something, you do it. By doing that over and over and making that a habit, your employees will begin to trust you more. When people trust their leaders, they take responsibility for their actions.

3. Become technically and tactically proficient. When I say technically and tactically proficient, what I mean is that if you follow a process in your business world (i.e. either a manufacturing process or a selling process), ensure that you understand the technical process, the technical reasons, and the tactical exportation of each step. You can articulate that not only to your employees, but to your customers as well. In other words, it goes back to the very first component where we talked about setting the example. Be able to understand why you do what you do.

4. Make sound and timely decisions. How many times did you work in an organization where decisions weren’t made, or deadlines for decisions are put forward and were not honored? Your employees, peers, and subordinates are looking to you to make decisions on a timely basis because often times, your decisions drive their actions, their productivity, and their ability to succeed.

5. Keep your employees informed. They need to understand that you do more than come to the office, go to your specific corner of the office every day, and look at your email. They need to have an understanding that you’re in there executing, in order to help them be successful. The only way that happens is if you keep them informed with your teams.

6. Be responsible. Next, how many of us have seen leaders who won’t take responsibility for their actions? If you want to set yourself up in front of your employees as someone who’s different, seek and take responsibility for your actions. When you have a task that must be done and you do it, ensure that you’re proud enough of your execution. Stand tall and own that. If you do that, you’ll see that people will begin to coalesce as a team and follow you.

7. Make sure tasks are understood, supervised, and accomplished. Now, the next thing you have to do to bolster up taking responsibility for one’s actions is to ensure that when you’re working with subordinates, the assigned tasks are understood, supervised, and accomplished. If you do that, what you’ll see is an employee who understands the steps to success. Then, the steps to success become a habit. Your employees are going to trust you. They’re going to see that, day in and day out. Not only are you giving them tasks, but you’re also mapping out a way for them to be successful. In other words, you’re their advocate.

8. Train your employees as a team. I spent time the other week with an organization in the Midwest, and they took their sales team into a Tough Mudder race. In other words, they were out there as one cohesive unit, ensuring that they were helping each other succeed. That dependence and that success now permeates through their selling organization. They’re focusing on every task and achieving every step of the task as a team.

9. Employ your team in accordance with its capabilities. If your team is strong in certain areas, exploit that and ensure that they show their strength. Where there are weaknesses, ensure you do your best as a leader to minimize those. Don’t throw your team into an area where they’ll fail because of a lack of capability training.

10. Set the example. All these words and concepts that I’ve shared with you will be for naught, if you don’t set and lead by example. If you, as the leader, live out these ten principles, what you’ll see is a team that will follow you and execute at a higher level. You’ll be more productive, you’ll hit your goals faster, and most importantly, everyone around you will enjoy working with you.

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