10 Updates

Army's Basic Training is No Longer Basic: Lessons for Business

Apr 21 2014, 3:37pm CDT | by

“I am Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, your senior drill instructor. From now on you will speak only when spoken to, and the first and last words out of your filthy sewers will be ‘Sir.’ Do you maggots...

Filed under: news

 
 
 

13 weeks ago

Army's Basic Training is No Longer Basic: Lessons for Business

Apr 21 2014, 3:37pm CDT | by

“I am Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, your senior drill instructor. From now on you will speak only when spoken to, and the first and last words out of your filthy sewers will be ‘Sir.’ Do you maggots understand that?” With that line from Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket actor R. Lee Ermey introduced his new recruits – and a whole generation of Americans – to the fundamentals of basic training, where drill sergeants demand respect, order, and, most importantly, obedience. Ermey, who wrote much of his own dialogue, acted out the reality he experienced when he was a Parris Island drill sergeant.

In the 20th century, as I wrote in my book, HOW , the military “made blind obedience culture into a high art, and with great success. Unquestioning submission to central authority, they believed, built the floors of certainty, predictability, and unit cohesion necessary for soldiers to lay down their lives for one another.” Since, I’ve referenced the military as the conventionally understood stereotypical example of an organization run on blind obedience – organizations characterized by command and control, top-down leadership and coercion – and basic training as the locus of the indoctrination, where recruits learn to (again in the words of Sergeant Hartman) “obey my orders as they would the word of God.” Likewise, particularly during the industrial age as companies were being scaled up for mass production, many businesses also operated with a blind obedience model. Many corporations embraced the same top-down, hierarchical, because-I’m-the-boss-and-I-said-so, ‘just do it’ ethos.

In the 21st century, the world has been reshaped by communication technology’s transformation of the operating environment in which the military, businesses and we all operate. The US Army, like most forward thinking businesses, has recognized the limitations of blind obedience. The greatest fighting force in the history of the world has adapted to today’s asymmetric battlefield in countless ways both large and small. The Army has been phenomenally innovative in this critical leadership area, and admirably open about their work, and I have been inspired to study how they are adapting. One compelling illustration of this, and one of the most remarkable examples I’ve seen recently of inspirational leadership, has been in the US Army’s basic training.

Examples from the military are instructive for those of us in the business world because they demonstrate the broad-based applicability of values-based, inspirational leadership. One of the questions people often ask me is whether “principled performance” and  “inspiration” will really work in whatever hard-nosed, high stakes, rough and tumble business they conduct. The implication is often that their industry is so macho and testosterone-fueled that values-based leadership will be perceived by their peers as too touchy-feely. I have long responded that principled performance is not about nice guys finishing first. Principles can be a source of incredible strength, formidability, and clarity. I also tell people that values-based leadership works in every type of business, no matter how high stakes.

The Fighting Falcons of Fort Jackson, SC

I witnessed the power of this firsthand when I was invited to travel last month to Fort Jackson, in Columbia, SC, the US Army’s largest locus of Basic Combat Training.

“I don’t want fear and obedience; I want confidence and discipline. Discipline is not about being on time. Discipline is about doing the right thing at the right time.”

These are the words of Lieutenant Colonel Jason Corbett Glick, the visionary leader who commands the Fighting Falcons of the 2nd Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment who are stationed at Fort Jackson. LTC Glick and the Drill Sergeants under his command are responsible for annually turning 4,000 young men and women into soldiers during their ten-week basic training.

LTC Glick understands that while blind obedience may have been what the US Army needed to win World War I, the changed battlefield, like the changed business landscape, of the 21st century requires a soldier who not only knows how to follow an order, but also knows how to think critically and adapt to changing circumstances. LTC Glick is a thought leader in fatigues, so when he took over 2-39, he and his team rethought almost every aspect of their basic training regimen, literally from the minute the recruits are delivered.

Rethinking Basic Training

While 2-39 used to give recruits the ‘Full Metal Jacket treatment’ when they got off the bus, they now bring them straight to the obstacle course. Not only is it more engaging and gets them moving right away, it also requires more analytical skill and begins the team-building process immediately. And, importantly, right from the start it forces recruits to think and obey orders, not just obey orders. Part of the introduction is about telling new recruits what outcome the Sergeant wants, not what to do. By leaving it up to the soldiers to figure out what to do and how to do it, they improve their critical thinking skills. Interestingly, forcing the soldiers to think analytically is actually more stressful for them than shouting at them and calling them names.

Likewise, if your new employee orientation involves your new colleagues sitting in a classroom while someone from HR lectures them, you need to think about the message you’re sending and the behavior you’re socializing them to expect from themselves and each other. Unless you want your new staff to be passive and non-collaborative, you need to reconsider how you’re instructing them.

LTC Glick and his team, like all good managers and leaders today, engaged in a fundamental rethink about what the people they lead should be able to do. While most basic training focuses on developing four skills – shoot, move, communicate, survive – 2-39 has added an emphasis on a fifth skill, adapt. Soldiers engaged in asymmetric warfare can’t be prepared to simply follow orders thoughtlessly no matter how the situation changes. They need to follow orders and think. The battlefield is just too complex, varied and dynamic for our armed forces to succeed if commanders alone are doing the thinking. The new world of warfare, like the new world of business, requires creativity, collaboration, and adaptive skills.

During a conversation with the team I asked the assembled drill sergeants what kind of behavior they want to see from their privates. I was pleasantly surprised by the list they came up with – determination, drive, loyalty, independence, adaptive, resiliency, proactive, willingness.

Shifting Behavior vs. Elevating Behavior

Note that none of the sergeants included Hartman’s one and only behavioral priority, obedience. What they did include are higher level, elevated behaviors, and they are not that different from the list produced when I ask business audiences the same question about their employees. Elevated behaviors build healthy, sustainable partnerships by calling forth our most human qualities and virtues of character.

These enlightened sergeants understand that young men and women can’t be transformed into 21st century soldiers by shifting their behavior, only by elevating it. We’ve grown highly proficient in shifting behavior and, don’t get me wrong, much good has come out of these tactics. Companies have helped employees to save more in their retirement accounts through “opt-out” shifts; train platforms in India have grown safer thanks to better signage and communications; some food stores steer shoppers to healthier options via innovative shelving nudges. Although shifting remains useful, it is no longer sufficient in this era, when elevated behaviors are not just required, but in fact become the source of advantage. If you want people to be thoughtful and respectful about the culture of a warzone or a workplace, if you want them to develop meaningful relationships, you can’t shift their behavior; you have to elevate it. Elevated behavior can’t be created by coercion or motivation. Sergeant Hartman couldn’t demand resilience or adaptivity, and he aggressively ruled out proactivity and independence. Trying to “shift” soldiers (or employees) to exhibit elevated behaviors is like applying Stone Age tools to a Bronze Age challenge./>/>

Higher order behaviors can’t be imposed (or even incented) from the outside, they have to come from within. I can’t pay people to feel compassion or give them a bonus for being determined. Carrots and sticks simply won’t generate the behavior 2-39’s sergeants want, just as they won’t get my staff to collaborate or think creatively. The only way to make privates or employees behave in an elevated way is to inspire them to do so, that is, to connect to what is most deep within people: their core values, beliefs, and sense of meaning.

A New Crest

To get these higher order behaviors, LTC Glick understands that he and his team likewise have to raise their game. As I have said before in this space, they need wings to elevate behavior, not wheels to shift it. As with business leaders, it’s harder for the drill sergeants, but they understand that the soldiers they produce need to elevate their behavior, and the only way to produce elevated behavior is to inspire it.

LTC Glick had started to make innovative changes to the basic training structure but he was having trouble gaining traction when a colleague of mine shared a copy of HOW with him. “What HOW allowed me to do is start to integrate the ideas that I wanted to incorporate into the battalion with a vocabulary that could be understood…I now had a common vocabulary to say ‘this is why I want to do this’ and ‘here’s a way to get there,’” said LTC Glick, “Our metrics immediately began to improve. My privates are meeting the standard and they’re meeting it consistently.”

2-39 has embraced their new frameworks and vocabulary so fully that they developed a new crest and have permanently installed it on a sign in the entrance to battalion headquarters. It says “Amatoris adjutus, advocati animatos,” which is Latin for “Amateurs motivate, professionals inspire.”

From now on, when people ask me whether principled performance will work in their hard-nosed, high-stakes, rough and tumble, testosterone-fueled business, I’ll just suggest that they ask LTC Glick and the Fighting Falcons.

 
Update
10

6 weeks ago

RM47mil KWSG contributions still unclaimed

Jun 9 2014 7:54am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

Cambodia's Famous Battambang Circus
KUALA LUMPUR: About RM47 million of contributions in the Teachers Provident Fund (KWSG) still remain unclaimed, the Dewan Rakya ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
9

6 weeks ago

Gold shop lost almost RM1mil

Jun 9 2014 3:50am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

Newcastle United Training Session
KANGAR: A gold shop owner lost almost RM1 million after after the safe on in his shop was broken into by r ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
8

6 weeks ago

Motion to debate MAS losses in Dewan Rakyat rejected

Jun 9 2014 3:39am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

Federal Aviation Administration Bans All US Flights To Israel
KUALA LUMPUR: AN emergency motion to debate the losses incurred by Malaysia Airlines last year, amounting to RM1.2 billion was rejected by the Dewan ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
7

6 weeks ago

MH370 Tragedy: Hisham: RM27.6 mil spent on 1st phase of SAR

Jun 9 2014 2:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia spent some RM27.6 million in its first phase of the search operations for missing Malaysia Airline flight MH370, said Acting Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
6

6 weeks ago

9.1m litres of diesel seized in a month

Jun 8 2014 1:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

INDIA-CHINA-DIPLOMACY-TRADE
PUTRAJAYA: The Domestic Trade, Cooperatives, and Consumerism ministry has seized some 9.1 million litres of diesel and property worth RM58 million since mounting ‘Operasi Diesel Selatan’ in the southern stat ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
5

6 weeks ago

Girl, 9, awarded RM2.78m compensation for medical negligence

Jun 6 2014 4:56am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

Government Weekly Cabinet Meeting
KUALA LUMPUR: A nine-year-old girl who suffered brain damage during her birth at a government hospital was awarded over RM2.78 million in com ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
4

6 weeks ago

Malaysia's total trade in April up 12pc

Jun 5 2014 11:52pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's total trade in April 2014 rose by 12 per cent from a year ago to RM123.86 billion due to growing trading activities, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mu ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
3

6 weeks ago

Works Ministry to spend RM20m for upgrading works at 50 accident black spots

Jun 4 2014 11:35pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

Iskandar Johor Open - Previews
JOHOR BARU: The Works Ministry will implement upgrading works at 50 accident prone locations in the country that have been identified this year involving an allocation ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
2

7 weeks ago

Najib launches loan scheme for Ramadan traders

Jun 4 2014 10:24pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM - Day One
PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today launches RM45 million Ramadan Bazaa ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
1

7 weeks ago

Residents bring up objection against Kidex to Suhakam

Jun 4 2014 4:49am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PETALING JAYA: A group of 20 Petaling Jaya residents held a meeting with the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) over their objection against the proposed RM2.2 billion Kinrara ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

47 killed in Taiwan as plane makes botched landing (Roundup)
Taipei, July 23 (IANS) Forty-seven people on board a Taiwanese TransAsia Airways plane were killed in a failed emergency landing in the island county of Penghu Wednesday, Taiwan's transportation authority has confirmed.
 
 
47 killed in Taiwan plane's botched landing
Taipei, July 23 (IANS) Forty-seven people on board a Taiwanese TransAsia Airways plane were killed in a failed emergency landing in the island county of Penghu Wednesday, Taiwan's transportation authority has confirmed.
 
 
51 killed in Taiwan plane emergency landing
Beijing, July 23 (IANS) At least 51 people were killed and seven others injured when a passenger plane with Taiwan's TransAsia Airways made an emergency landing on the outlying island county of Penghu Wednesday, media reported.
 
 
High salt ups heart disease risk in diabetics
Tokyo, July 23 (IANS) People with Type-2 diabetes have more to add to their list of dietary restrictions as researchers have found that a high salt diet may double their risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Bolt blasts officials for reducing Gay's doping ban
Glasgow (Scotland), July 24 (IANS/CMC) Sprint super star Usain Bolt has criticised anti-doping officials for reducing Tyson Gay's doping ban after he tested positive for an anabolic steroid last year. Gay and Bolt's...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Superb Smith's century takes Tridents to victory
Bridgetown (Barbados), July 24 (IANS/CMC) A century by Dwayne Smith fired Barbados Tridents to their second win of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL), with a convincing 29-run triumph over St Lucia Zouks in their first...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Tim Cook Just Made The Case For A Low-Priced iPhone
During Apple’s earnings call yesterday, CEO Tim Cook was asked a seemingly harmless question about the impact of trade-in programs on iPhone sales. Cook’s wide-ranging response was that he felt trade-ins were good for...
Read more on Auto Balla
 
A Tech Company With An Auto Focus
When three guys from an accounting firm in Pune came up with the idea of offering IT services back in the late 1980s, they were entering uncharted territory. Personal computers were still getting popularized, and Indian...
Read more on Auto Balla
 
Natalie Imbruglia wants to join dating app Tinder
Los Angeles, July 24 (IANS) Actress-turned-singer Natalie Imbruglia, who is single, reportedly wants to sign up to the cult dating app Tinder. The 39-year-old has admitted that her lack of success in her love life...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Nigeria's abducted girls not forgotten: UN chief
United Nations, July 24 (IANS) UN Secretary General Ban Ki- moon Wednesday voiced his full support for the worldwide vigils to mark 100 days since the abduction of schoolgirls in Nigeria by Boko Haram terrorists,...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Colombian military kills 13 rebels
Bogota, July 24 (IANS) Colombia's ministry of defence said Wednesday the armed forces killed 13 Leftist rebels and captured eight in two separate operations. The first operation took place between the towns of Tame...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Kerry wraps up Israel visit, no sign of breakthrough
Jerusalem, July 24 (IANS) US Secretary of State John Kerry left Israel late Wednesday after a day-long visit during which he tried to broker a ceasefire agreement to end the ongoing fighting between Israel and Hamas....
Read more on Politics Balla
 
US says blame for downed plane lies with Putin
Washington, July 24 (IANS) The US said Wednesday that blame for the crashed Malaysian airliner lies directly with Russian President Vladimir Putin. State Department spokesperson Marie Harf told a regular briefing that...
Read more on Politics Balla