Empower Your Strategic Corporals
Krulak’s Law of Leadership states that the future of an organisation is in the hands of the privates in the field, not the generals back home. To grow a business that can make a difference in the world and create ownership wealth for you, it’s imperative that you grow your people
Charles Krulak is a retired US Marine Corps general who, in a 1999 Marines Magazine article, coined the term “strategic corporal”. His article introduces the Three-Block War concept, where troops simultaneously engage in full-out battle, peacekeeping and humanitarian aid all within three city blocks.
Mission failure – and the death of your team and civilians – is almost guaranteed if decisions cannot be made in the moment at ground level. It’s near-impossible to write policies and train unit leaders for every possible situation that might arise. Instead, the corporals – the lowest-ranking leaders – must be able to think for themselves and immediately lead their teams to execute their decisions.
Increasingly, the world of work is pushing us into situations where it’s not possible to succeed if we must wait for an answer to, “What do I do next?” Agility depends on split-second decisions to exploit time-critical information, and this could have a major impact on your company’s reputation, good or bad.
As the general of your business, you’ve invested your sweat and money in building your business and looking after hard-earned, loyal clients. That could all be decimated in seconds by a junior employee whose public relations blunder is videoed and plastered all over social media. Not only is this an entrepreneur’s nightmare, we see major brands hurt by this almost every week.
Or the right decision by an employee to solve a problem for a delighted customer could be worth thousands in the PR and brand-awareness effect. That worker has a multiplier effect where their value far exceeds their salary.
In other words, as a high-level leader, it’s your job to empower your front-line leaders to make independent and high-impact decisions.
But how do you do this? Krulak offers 5 principles:
Offer them the freedom to fail and with it, the opportunity to succeed.
Micro-management must become a thing of the past.
Supervision must be complemented by proactive mentoring.
Empower them, hold them strictly accountable for their actions.
Allow the leadership potential within each of them to flourish.
“Leaders are judged, ultimately, by the quality of the leadership reflected in their subordinates.” — Krulak.
Are you employing biological robots, or are you leading leaders?
(Image credit: UN News Women in Peacekeeping https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/04/1036511)