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Battle-tested tips from the Marines

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in Leaders & Managers,Workplace Communication

Use these principles from the U.S. Marine Corps to lead your enterprise:

1. Hesitation is fatal. Leaders should decide before 80 percent of the facts become available.

2. Moving quickly will confuse the enemy. When the United States quickly switched from air to ground attacks in spring 2003, near the start of the current Iraq War, it threw off Saddam Hussein’s troops and may have prevented them from setting oil wells on fire, as they did during the 1991 Gulf War. In business, you can copy what the Marines call “tempo” by building the fastest possible new-product pipeline.

3. Decentralize your decision-making. Marine commanders in Iraq are giving their colonels a record high level of autonomy, just as long as they reach the desired objectives.

Although fragmenting your command structure may be risky, it makes for much better decisions in times of intense pressure.

For people in business, the take home point is to put as much discretion as you can into the hands of employees who interact directly with your customers in the marketplace.

— Adapted from “Managing on the Front Lines,” Nicole Gull, Inc. magazine.

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