The Nine Principles of Business War
by Greg Langston

How you can maximize and retain the best and the brightest?

Did you know that up to 38% of your managers, supervisors, and team leaders are about to leave? Monster (the premiere online job search company) has seen a 44% increase in new resume postings in the first quarter of 2004. In particular, "confidential" postings from job-seekers hiding the search from their bosses are up 13%.

Do you know who they are?

The Problem

Exit interviews by JWT Specialized Communication show that manager - employee relationships and weak communications are the top reasons for voluntary departure. When there is a gap in alignment between employees, supervisors, and the corporation, you will experience a rise in costs, lowered shareholder value, and increased turnover.

CEOs tell us:

  • I'm concerned about losing good people.
  • I don't have the time to mentor.
  • My key talent is getting burned out.
  • How can I help my key talent prepare for an uncertain future?
  • What is the benefit of ensuring the personal success of my employees?

"Leadership development is about helping people grow,
and if I can get people as individuals growing,
then I've got a company that grows."

- James McNerney, 3M CEO of the Year, Industry Week Magazine

Through McNerney's leadership, 3M has certainly become a company that grows. Just imagine what you and your company could accomplish if your key talent knew what their unique strengths, core values, and lifetime goals were!

Are your employees' goals and strengths aligned with the corporation? Do you know what their goals and strengths are?

Consequences of Inaction

James McNerney and 3M are on to something here. By not addressing the personal growth of your employees, the consequences could be:

  • People may "resign" but not quit;
  • If you do not recruit your employees continuously, someone else will;
  • You will lose the excitement of your employees' first days on the job;
  • Potential loss of market reputation;
  • Loss of shareholder value!

So how can you eliminate unwanted turnover and engage your key talent?

The Roadmap to Domination

True success relies on a clear path, consistency, and innovation. And the roadmap to success can come from unusual - and sometimes forgotten - sources. Take the field manual below, for example.

So what does an army field manual have to do with anything, you ask? Plenty. Business is war. It is a battle to reach your objectives. It is a battle to keep your key talent from leaving and "upgrading" your competitors. Above all, it is a battle to dominate your competition.

We have taken this old field manual and put it in a fresh perspective for the modern business leader.

Army Field Manual 100-5
Blueprint for the Air-Land Battle
The Nine Principles of War
 
One: Objective
Direct every military operation towards a clearly defined, decisive, and attainable objective.
Two: Offensive
Seize, retain, and exploit the initiative.
Three: Mass
Concentrate minimum essential combat power to secondary efforts.
Four: Economy of Force
Allocate minimum essential combat power to secondary efforts.
Five: Maneuver
Place the enemy in a position of disadvantage through flexible application of combat power.
Six: Unity of Command
For every objective, ensure unity of command under one responsible commander.
Seven: Security
Never permit the enemy to acquire an unexpected advantage.
Eight: Surprise
Strike at a time or place, on in a manner, for which the enemy is unprepared.
Nine: Simplicity
Prepare clear, uncomplicated plans and clear, concise orders to ensure thorough understanding.

 

The Nine Principles of Business War

Principle One: Objective

Direct all actions towards a clearly defined, decisive, and attainable objective. Real leadership begins at the beginning. To engage your employees, you must communicate precisely what the objectives are. This is a war you cannot win alone.

Principle Two: Take the Offensive

Seize, retain, and exploit the initiative. Once you have determined your objectives (and you have clearly communicated them to your employees), you will have a ready team to seize the opportunities that arise in your market.

Principle Three: Be Effective

Identify your priorities and concentrate minimum essential resources to lower priorities. For this you must identify your priorities and establish the details of your objectives. By minimum essential resources we mean that the focus of time and money must be on the primary objectives without neglecting the small details and lower priorities.

Principle Four: Be Efficient

Determine the most efficient use of your employees. This is where personal growth comes into play. To know precisely who to assign to what, you need a system to determine the unique strengths and goals of your employees.. Determine your innovators, brainstormers, organizers, communicators - find the employees with the strengths to match each objective.

Principle Five: Adapt, Improvise, and Overcome

Place your competitors in a position of disadvantage through a flexible application of your resources. With the right person in the right place, your company will be able to maximize each and every opportunity. Take the time to communicate the company's objectives and to discover the strengths and goals of your employees. By doing this, you will have shown them that you believe in them, and they will be engaged when and where you need them.

Principle Six: Unity of Leadership

For every challenge and objective, ensure synergy among all leadership. In essence, this means two things: (1) You now know exactly who should be in a position of leadership for each objective and (2) you communicate your collective goals throughout the company. In one word, alignment. By engaging your employees through invested and unified leadership, you can align your employees with the objectives and goals of the company.

Principle Seven: Retain the Best and Maximize the Rest

Never permit the competition to acquire an unexpected advantage. If you do not actively recruit your key talent, somebody else will. By addressing the personal growth of your employees, the greenest grass will be in your company. Knowing the unique strengths and goals of your employees has another benefit-you will have a clearer picture of those employees who are actively disengaged (or whose strengths are not matched to their job). The real benefit from this will be reduced unwanted turnover, where the costs can add up to more than 150% of the former employee's salary.

Principle Eight: Innovate

Strike at a time or place, or in a manner, for which the competition is unprepared. This principle cannot be properly done if you do not know the unique strengths of your key talent. With the alignment of strength to action, you can maximize the hidden opportunities that arise in your market.

Principle Nine: Simplicity

Prepare clear, uncomplicated plans and clear, concise orders to ensure thorough understanding. By aligning your employees' goals to the company's goals, they will be engaged and ready to act. You must communicate clearly and constantly the mission, values, and objectives of your company.

How can you put all of this into action?

Dominating the market does not come easily. You need a system to determine the unique strengths of your employees and address their personal growth. This insight will let you match ability with action. Are your innovators organizing? Are your organizers innovating? "The right tool for the right job" isn't just for carpenters and mechanics.

Engage your workforce. Help them achieve personal success. This will transform your company into a highly profitable and aligned organization.


Greg Langston is the President of The Langston Group, which offers a comprehensive 100 Day Leadership and Success system called the Integrated Helix System™. The Integrated Helix System™ helps individuals discover their unique strengths (Distinct Natural Abilities™), core values, and lifetime goals, all with a focus on maximizing potential and work-life balance. Visit http://www.100daystosuccess.com/ for additional information.

Many more articles in Competitive Strategy in The CEO Refresher Archives

   


Copyright 2004, The Langston Group. All rights reserved.

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