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Tag Archives: Leadership

Yes, we’re all dumb – enough to make mistakes – and then we learn.  In a way, that is a part of the self-deprecating culture I miss about the military.  We are all very hard on ourselves, and while also served with an occasional dose of – ahem – “confidence” we also ridicule ourselves more often than anything else.  Well, ourselves and each other.  I have grown to realize there is a productive measure to that ridicule that improves individual, collective and team performance.

When a working team establishes a communication environment that allows for straight, sometimes brutal, but honest and even more often comical, communication – there is very little left unsaid.  Why is that helpful?  Because it ensures that all members of a team are voicing their observations when they thinks something is awry.  If you are doing something that can be done better, you’ll be told.  If your performance is good, but can be better – you’ll be told.  If someone disagrees with you – you’ll be told.  The guess work is taken out, and the perceived friction point can be addressed.  This reduces what I’ve been introduced to as “office politics”.  If we’ve learned anything in a democratic society, it’s that “politics” and “efficiency” often get in each other’s way.

Of course, there needs to be moderation.  No team should suddenly start verbally lashing out at each other (nor should they ever really be “lashing out”).  First, everyone has to believe that everyone else in the team is more concerned about the TEAM’s goals and objectives than any individual’s objectives.  Team-orientation over self-orientation is a topic of its own, and gets into the foundations of team building.  But that will be it for today – let’s keep it short.  How honest have you been with your team lately?

*You might have noticed the title was intentionally, incorrectly spelled as “were” instead of “we’re”.  It’s a play on words… making “dumb” only temporary, until enlightened.

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leadership is not always comfortable

In the absence of leadership, he who holds himself and his peers to a higher standard than is demanded will rarely have 100% approval ratings from peers. Those peers who actively seek self improvement will show interest; those who don’t might show resentment.  A key tool in leading peers, particularly without any given title, is to carefully monitor and manage your methods of communication.

This doesn’t mean you will gain the 100% approval rating, but it may help to ensure you don’t earn disapproval on account of unintentionally sending the wrong message.  You may also need to check your own definitions, to ensure your own definition of seeking self-improvement and performance is not blinding you from seeing the ways others may do the same – just in different ways.

Still, I remain supportive of those who maintain a higher standard.  Even at the risk of not, “pleasing everyone”.   The reward of positively influencing one, or being an influence in the development and growth of another, far  out-weigh the cost of an unambitious collegue.  They are only the few, and will either catch on eventually, or just weed themselves out.

Whether it be the advances in technology that we use daily such as electricity, cell phones, refrigerators, fleece or the internet – or – the awe inspiring accomplishments of our world such as landing on the moon, the space station, virtual reality, olympic world records or your favorite theme park – We wouldn’t have any of it, if we all settled for the standard.

We’ve become the society we are, we’ve made many accomplishments and will continue to accomplish more – on the backs of those who didn’t let us just meet “the standard.”

#whoisleadingyou

There has been a lot of controversy – and make no mistake, regardless of one’s stance – our Country, and New York City particularly, need to make a move towards unity or the worst will only be to come.

Daniel Pantaleo and Darren Wilson were not indicted by grand juries – and neither should have been.  The NYPD Cop who killed the innocent Bronx-bodega worker, Reynaldo Cuevas, should not have been indicted either.  The two NYPD officers that shot 9 innocent bystanders in front of the Empire State building while pursuing Jeffrey Johnson, who murdered his former colleague moments, earlier have also not been indicted for any wrong doing.

However, there is a great amount of responsibility that has not been accounted for – and that is what truly bothers me.  And that problem is not tangible.  It is not something that can be easily scape-goated and protested about.  It doesn’t give you one, single person to hold as the guilty party.  But, until that problem is resolved – we will only continue to see “killer cops”.  Sorry to make it less sensational – but let’s also get one thing out of the way – it’s not about race either.  Making it about race is only going to distract from the true problem.

A 23 year old, NJ Police Officer was killed after less than one year on the force.  That trooper, Melvin Santiago responded to an armed robbery – and was shot & killed before he could get out of his car.  This problem, the problem that killed Melvin Santiago, Reynaldo Cuevas, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, resulted in the shooting of 9 innocent bystanders and left families on both sides mourning and scarred for life is the same problem.  Failure in leadership and training.

Every one of these officers, and victims/participants in the associated events, responded to each incident in a way that was reinforced by their training and the expectations that were reinforced upon them – by both the citizens and more importantly, their leadership.  For that, I do not hold any individual officer or person guilty for their actions.  Police Officers have been given a task that is far more difficult than any person who has not held the position will be able to imagine.  At the same time, when given that level of authority, or should I say, nobility – it comes with increased responsibility.  I’d like to go through and briefly recap each incident.

On July 13th, 2014 Jersey City Police Officer Melvin Santiago was killed by failed training and leadership. He responded to a call of an armed robbery and was the first to arrive on-scene.  When he arrived, he pulled his squad car up, with the driver’s side of his cruiser facing the entrance to the Walgreens.  Before he could exit his vehicle, the armed gunman had an unobstructed avenue of approach and used it.  He shot and killed Santiago on the spot.  Proper training would have left Santiago without a doubt that he is most vulnerable when exiting his vehicle.  That said, he should have never pulled in the way he did – his driver’s side, his vulnerable and exposed side, should never have been in direct view of the suspected avenue of approach.  Failure to have been trained to respond properly killed Melvin Santiago.

On Sep 7th, 2012 NYPD officers responded to an armed robbery in the Bronx.  With the suspects held up inside the bodega, officers took positions outside.  When they did, the suspects ran to the back of the store, while 2 bodega works made an attempt to flee.  After just being ordered to the floor by the armed gunmen – Reynaldo Cuevas bolted out the door for his own safety.  A 7 year Veteran-NYPD Officer, was standing outside, gun drawn.  He was positioned poorly and unready when Cuevas ran into the officer, and the officer’s gun.  The officer, who had never fired his weapon in the line of duty during his 7 year career accidentally shot Cuevas – killing him.  As you see the video, you can see it unfold.  The bottom line, in 7 years on the force, there is no way that officer should have been standing where he was.  He was not trained properly – and that lack of training and the leadership to validate training – is what killed Cuevas.

http://abclocal.go.com//story?section=news/local/new_york&id=8801415

Having taught Combat Marksmanship, and hand-to-hand combat in the Marine Corps, I am confident in identifying improper tactics.  Where that officer was standing – he left himself blind, and in a position where he did not have enough time to react appropriately when ANY person came out of that door.  Cuevas, nor any suspect should have been able to reach and touch the officer before the officer identified him as a threat or not threat.  Members of our most elite forces could have properly made that decisions and saved Cuevas’ life (assuming sub-second decision making time).  As a patrol officer, the NYPD officer should have been positioned so that he would have no less than ~3 seconds to properly conduct a threat assessment, from the time of sight of a person to time of action (I might even be a little generous to offers as little as 3 seconds).

On Friday, August 24th, 2012 – Two NYPD Officers, with little warning are responding to shots fired just less than a block away as Jeffrey Johnson just assassinated his colleague.   As you see in the video, the police officers approach Johnson (without their weapons drawn) and then begin demonstrating their poor training as soon as Johnson pulls out his .45 caliber handgun.  Johnson has his gun out for nearly 2 full seconds, pointed at the police, but doesn’t fire.  In those 2 seconds, the police nearly STUMBLE over each other, BACK PEDALLING until their weapons are drawn and they begin firing from an unbalanced position.  Not to mention, how close the second officer is to shooting his fellow officer that is nearly directly in his line of fire between himself and Johnson.  The police fired 16 shots, killing Johnson, and also injuring 9 innocent bystanders.

http://www.nbcnews.com/video/nightly-news/48791269#48791269

What went right?

  • The officers reacted as they were trained to. They cannot be blamed for that.

What went wrong?

  • Their training.
  • Responded to an active shooter situation and their guns were not drawn at the time they had the shooter in closing distance.
  • They stumbled over each other, retreating until they could get their guns drawn. As sworn officers, whose DUTY is to protect the population – they do not have the luxury to fall to the natural human reactions to danger.  They have to go INTO the danger.  If Johnson wanted to pull the trigger – one, if not both of those officers would have been dead.
  • They fired 16 shots! Many of which, were taken while off balance and not well-aimed. There is no reason that a target that is only 10-15’ away had anything less than 100% shot accuracy.  For someone who is untrained, or not trained properly, this is actually normal when considering the psychology that happens in a situation like this.  It is likely in the moment, each officer was not aware of how many rounds they heard, or how many times they pulled the trigger.  By no means is that negligent – but with proper training it can be mitigated.

NYPD, and all police forces must hold their leadership accountable for the training and acceptable performance standards.  Firing on a paper target at a controlled range does NOT prepare officers for an armed confrontation.  The bad guy is not going to wait for you to take a deep breath, exhale, focus, and slowly squeeze.  Proper use of stress inoculation in training will be a helpful tool – but still useless if NYPD leadership continues to reinforce these types of performance as meeting the standard.  The police officers did exactly as they were taught, and for that, cannot and should not be held at fault.

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Darren Wilson, and Daniel Pantaleo… I wanted to go into more on these two – but I think the point is made.  Both officers acted in accordance with their training.  When adrenaline goes and actions are taken – detailed thought is not what prevails.  Training and reinforced decision making is what prevails.  If the training is not sufficient, then fear takes over.  When fear takes over – things are rarely taken care of at a level that should be expected from those we entrust to be our domestic protectors.

Watch the video of Eric Garner… the hold that Pantaleo uses to take him down, is not a chock hold.  It is a head and arm manipulation, also known as a controlling technique.  The hold Pantaleo uses on Garner once on the ground IS a choke hold… it is the first, and only point during the choke that Garner tries to speak and can’t.  At that point, he truly could not breath – and his blood-flow (and oxygen) to the brain is stifled.  This sensation doesn’t end for Garner once released, and you begin to hear his pleas that he can’t breathe (at this point he CAN breath, but his blood flow to the brain is still stifled, likely giving him the sensation he cannot breath).  Anytime you even momentarily stop/pause blood flow to the brain during a time of adrenaline and increasde blood pressure – you risk the chance of the person going unconscious in a VERY short period of time.

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/video/2014/dec/04/i-cant-breathe-eric-garner-chokehold-death-video

Eric Garner is a big guy – take a look at his shoulders, and his abdomen/torso in particular.  Once he is on the ground, Pantaleo has his knee on Garner’s head (as well as his palm on Garner’s lower jaw/side of neck).  The knee on the head is a trained controlling technique.  However, the windows that Garner is pressed against, has his left shoulder pressed into the far side of his own neck.  Looking at the size of Garner’s torso – the distance his head has to go, to get flat to the ground is further than the average person… this additional distance causes additional pressure to his arteries in his neck as does the pressure of his own shoulder shoving into the side of his neck.  The cops continue to put even MORE pressure on him at this point.  Why?  Because Garner’s animalistic, and basic HUMAN response to suffocating, is to fight – as if your life depends on it (because it does) for air.  He is pushing up to relieve the pressure on his neck that is obstructing oxygenated blood from getting to his brain.  His pushing up, triggers a TRAINED response from the Police Officers to apply more force until he “stops resisting”.

That lethal cycle is a result of poor training – and must be corrected.  The response, or lack thereof by both the police and medical units to provide resuscitation immediately is nothing short of negligent.  On behalf of the Officers, it is negligence by training.  On behalf of the EMTs – just negligence.   The EMTs were rightfully stripped of their jobs.  (But let’s take a moment, what set of standards was being enforced upon them to have even begin to think that their response was appropriate in the first place?).

A lack of leadership, in the areas we need it most is killing our citizens and ruining the lives of many more.  Further it is dividing our people, our neighborhoods, and defies the cohesion any community needs to be productive and positive.  Hating individual cops, or slaying innocent cops as they sit in their car is not going to save or rectify anything.  Race baiting and claiming racial motivations is only going to distract from the point.

Leadership must be held accountable.  Training must be must be enforced to a higher standard.  I don’t mean just at the very top – I mean at the most integral levels… the middle managers: The Sergeants, Lieutenants and Captains; the heads of the academies, and those responsible for sustainment training.  But also – Parents.  Parents, Teachers and Families.  Just as Police Instructors are to be held accountable for setting, and Sergeants for maintaining, accountability for the acceptable performance standards – so should Parents, Teachers, and Families hold themselves accountable for the behavior of their children.  As those children respond only in a way that reflects what has been reinforced as an acceptable standard.

Management is tangible.  It is about the effective and efficient completion of task items.

Leadership is intangible, and it is NOT about you.

If you are developing those in your charge, they will grow and will be offered opportunities.  Don’t be bitter; be proud.

If you are NOT developing those in your charge, they will FIND other opportunities.  Don’t be bitter; be better.

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As a father of two, the quality of my children’s education both academically and socially is at the top of my priority list.  As I sit waiting on a flight, and begin reading Emily King’s book “Field Tested” I am reminded of a conversation I had with my wife.

After exiting the military and leaving Camp Pendleton and the accompanying Oceanside, CA public school system, my son began school in a NYC Public Elementary School in The Bronx, NY.  Needless to say, he immediately noticed a difference, and he was in the first grade.  We expected a culture change, and perhaps methodology, but I have begun to notice something else is not just different, but missing.

The Marine Corps is full of A-type, competitive personalities that enjoy pushing each other to be better.  Where one isn’t faulted for an inability, but if they aren’t in an active effort to be better.  That culture… a culture of ambition is translated to the children of service members – especially the children of Marines 😉  However, sadly enough, I don’t see that same culture of ambition in my son’s (and now daughter’s) elementary school. A culture of ambition is exactly what drives individuals to perform beyond expectations – in any setting, school, work, recreation or otherwise.

Usually I like to propose a solution before ending an article, but as I sit, awaiting my flight – this is something I need to think about more.  Where did the Culture of Ambition go?  More importantly, how does one, a team, or an organization develop, maintain and nourish a Culture of Ambition?

Your thoughts are encouraged!

The United States Marine Corps awards the right to carry the “Mameluke” Sword (Seen in Chrome and Gold) to Commissioned and Warrant Officers.  The Marine Officer’s Sword commemorates the jeweled Mameluke sword that was awarded to Lt. Presley O’Bannon after leading a small Marine Detachment to march over 550 miles through the desert before attacking and retaking the enemy’s, heavily-fortified, Derna, Tripoli position.

The Commissioned Officers' Mameluke Sword and the Marine Enlisted's "NCO Sword"

The Commissioned Officers’ Mameluke Sword and the Marine Enlisted’s “NCO Sword”

Today we focus on the Junior Military Officers [JMOs]:

So, let’s briefly go over the profile of a Jr. Military Officer.  I have to admit – I am not as excited about this group as I am the Jr. Military Enlisted – but that doesn’t make them ANY less valuable to the workforce.  On the contrary, my reduced enthusiasm is because JMOs are SO well positioned to take on roles in Corporate America!

First – the hard numbers.  When I refer to JMOs, I am referring to the bell of the curve for officers that:
–          Commissioned after earning a degree and have not had prior military experience as a JME
–          Served honorably for 4-12 years (considering those under 4 years doesn’t help as they are under obligation to serve for a minimum of 4 years, and frequently longer).
–          Previous salary ranging from $66k-$101k/yr (Tax adjusted equivalent: $74k-$115k/yr)
–          Make up less than 10% of the Active Duty Military

JMOs Typically
–          Directly responsible for Assets and equipment usually ranging in Millions to hundreds of millions of dollars.
–          Responsible for 5-150 personnel
–          Have had unparalleled leadership training, and leadership-development training to include proper implementation of performance evaluations, and performance evaluation systems.
–          Have hands on experience in organizational change and change management
–          Have “Employee Relations” and Human Resources expertise regardless of their military specialty
–          Have at least a SECRET DoD security clearance

Depending on the service, many JMOs will have a degree that is relative to their career field.  The Navy is the service where this is most common.  The Marine Corps would be on the opposite spectrum, as Military Occupational Specialties (jobs) for Marine Officers are assigned based on the needs of the Service, with respect to the Marine’s most desired role, and their performance.  At the same time, The Marine Corps is the only service that requires ALL Officers regardless of job, to attend the world’s highest rated leadership course, known simply as “The Basic School” [TBS].

From every civilian organization I have had conversations with, I hear a common theme – It is not so difficult to find someone great at their job; it is ever-difficult to find an effective leader that develops members of the organization at the team level.  In civilian organizations, the logic follows “I’m the best at what I do, and I have earned the right to be promoted into a Sr. role”.  That may be true – but technical expertise and leadership are far different.  JMOs are taught to lead FIRST.  Then they are given the tools of their trades.  Marine Officers spend 6 months, 60-100 hours per week, training with peers – solely on LEADERSHIP, refining their ability to develop OTHERS.  They are the Michael Jordan of corporate employees.  When they are on the court, the rest of the team plays better!

JMOs have experience in developing and being held responsible for the development of protégés, and the junior members of their organization.  Their measure of performance is based on their team.  This is a trait normally reserved for very senior and C-suite executives.    It doesn’t have to be – a JMO is willing and able to fill the void your organization has in developing it’s young talent, creating organizational loyalty, commitment, and efficacy.

When reviewing the resume of a JMO, or interviewing them and you notice a specific job skill they don’t have enough “experience” with – ask yourself:  Which will cost my organization more, teaching him how to use Salesforce, or sending my Salesforce Admin to six months of leadership training and a following 3 years of practical application?  You can hire one technical expert, and you’ve gained one savvy technical expert for your job field.  You hire a JMO, and you gain a team of motivated members of the organization; all constantly being challenged to perfect and grow their technical expertise.

How to Create a Veteran Associate Program (Hiring and Program Guides for Managers and Veteran Profiles included along with an incredible study conducted by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families out of Syracuse University.

The United States Marine Corps awards the right to carry the “Non-Commissioned Officer’s” Sword (Seen in gold and black leather scabbard) to those Enlisted Marines once they obtain the rank of Corporal (E-4).  The Marine NCO-Sword is the oldest weapon in continuous service in the U.S. inventory.

The Commissioned Officers' Mameluke Sword and the Marine Enlisted's "NCO Sword"

The Commissioned Officers’ Mameluke Sword and the Marine Enlisted’s “NCO Sword”

Today we focus on the Junior Military Enlisted:

According to the most recently available (2011), complete figures I could obtain per the Dept. of Veteran Affairs, Junior Military Enlisted service members (Those enlisted members with 4-12 years of service, and in the ranks E-3 to E6) make up nearly 50% of the Military’s force.   That is the single largest group of any of the four groups described last week.

First, to reduce risk of carpal tunnel, I will refer to a Junior Military Enlisted service-member, or a Veteran of that group, as “a JME”.  The typical JME has spent 4-12 years on Active duty in the military and in addition to being immersed in leadership training that entire time, they have spent 2-10 of those years in a leadership role.  During which time they have been responsible for up to 30 direct reports (in cases much higher, and in cases never more than a handful).

JMEs with this leadership experience are experts at handling ambiguous situations and making decisions based on what they best understand their superior’s goal or intent to be.  This translates into becoming a manager in a larger corporation that can lead and employ his team, setting and meeting team objectives that are aligned with the organization’s strategic vision.  In the military we like to refer to it as “Understanding a clear Commander’s Intent while operating in a decentralized command structure”.

With the fruition of the Post 9/11 GI-Bill, JMEs are able to pursue higher education at amazing rates.  Based on size alone, separating JMEs who pursue higher-education vs. those who don’t would constitute adding a 5th group.  For ease of identification we will remain with four.  However, from this point forward, I will refer to solely the group of JMEs who pursue higher-education.

For the corporate world, where a Bachelor’s degree is required for employment, seeing a JME with a degree or in pursuit thereof is a great signal!  This means they are already demonstrating a prized leadership quality – Know yourself and seek self-improvement.  Not to mention they have taken Initiative to do so, maintain an internal locus of control, and are combating the ambiguity of financial pressures and security in order to complete their education as opposed to looking for immediate financial gain.  This is a distinction worth noting.

JMEs are SEVEN TIMES more plentiful than Jr. Military Officers (JMOs), and bare the same leadership and educational experience after completion of their degree.  It should be said however, that JMOs get more formal training in the honing and development of their leadership abilities.

To wrap things up, here are two points that are often over-looked by under-exposed and improperly educated Recruiting “Professionals”, often those who will only recruit or who have “clients” that will only hire prior “commissioned officers”:

  1. Formally, Staff-NCOs (Ranks E-6 and above) are charged with the development and mentorship of all JMOs until the rank of Major/Lieutenant Commander (O-4).  In practice, JMOs until the rank of Captain/Lieutenant (O-3) receive constant mentorship and development from JMOs (E-4 and above).  Yes – these NCOs or JME are exactly who have been developing these highly sought after JMOs!
  2. A typical JMO that gets out of the military after 4 or 8 years of service has earned a degree, and THEN gained his leadership training.  A JME who pursues higher-education will have received his leadership training first and then receives the most current in academic training while earning a degree.

 

I’d like to leave our brief description of the JME at that.  Next week, I will even things out a bit by diving further into the unique and valuable assets the JMO offers employers in today’s corporate world.

Until then, I hope to see as many Veteran seeking, or knowledge hungry Human Resource Professionals at the NYSE 2nd Annual Call to Action Forum on Nov. 1st at the New York Stock Exchange in New York, NY!

How to Create a Veteran Associate Program (Hiring and Program Guides for Managers and Veteran Profiles included along with an incredible study conducted by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families out of Syracuse University.

Overly delayed, but as promised, let’s start looking at the different profiles a high-potential U.S. Military Veteran will likely fall into.  I like to give a broad breakdown of the Veteran Profiles that are most likely to be seeking to enter the non-military workforce.  In doing so, there are four main groups.  I have also described and made the case for one of the four groups in the recently released Hiring Manager Resources published on the New York Stock Exchange Website (I’ll link the work at the end of this article).

The Commissioned Officers' Mameluke Sword and the Marine Enlisted's "NCO Sword"

The Commissioned Officers’ Mameluke Sword and the Marine Enlisted’s “NCO Sword”

The four main groups of Non-Retiring Veterans are:

–          Senior Military Officers (SMO)

–          Junior Military Officers (JMO)

–          Senior Military Enlisted (SME)

–          Junior Military Enlisted (JME)

Many have heard of the JMO, as they have become a highly targeted candidate pool for both corporations and placement agencies alike.  Where else can you find a pool of talent with post-degree work experience, and a resume of leadership and responsibility that often includes multi-million dollars in assets and organizational command often exceeds 300 people?  The problem is, they only represent 7% of the military – and not all 7% exit the military.  The amount of JMOs actually exiting the military is closer to 2% of the entire military assuming 67% of the military’s JMOs are retained after their first 4 years of service.

For the following summary and description of each group, I will be referencing my own work as published on the New York Stock Exchange website.  Not every member of the military will perfectly fall into the following four groups.  However, for organizations looking to hire Veterans, a clear understanding of the following groups will best prepare you to close the communication gap, and understand the majority of the Veteran population that are currently entering the workforce.

Four Main Categories of Non-Retiring Veterans

  • SMO – Sr. Military Officers (Executive Group)
    • 12+ years of service
    • Often with Master’s credentials and positioned well for Executive and Fast-track leadership programs
  • JMO – Jr. Military Officers (Professional Group)
    • 4-8 years as a Commissioned Officer
    • Highly sought after professional group for Junior and Mid-level Management roles in med-large companies
  • SME – Sr. Military Enlisted (Skilled Group)
    • 12+ years of service
    • Various levels of education and degree progress
    • Often are technical-skilled experts in their job field
  • JME – Jr. Military Enlisted (Skilled Group – Early Growth Stage)
    • 4-8 years of service
    • Mostly hold a High School diploma upon exit, if not a GED.
    • This group is further broken into two categories:
      • JME pursuing/has a degree
      • JME not pursuing a degree

You will notice that “JME pursuing/has a degree” is bolded.  That is because it represents the most under-targeted group that I argue should be considered as equally positioned to JMOs when considered for entry-level and junior leadership roles requiring a degree.  JME within our targeted service time of between 4-8 years of military service make up nearly 50% of the military per 2011 numbers!  That is SEVEN times more than the JMOs.  Additionally, with the onset of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, JMEs are pursuing college degrees at the highest rates seen in history.

This unique set of circumstance creates a large pool of candidates with 4-8 years of leadership training and experience that is unparalleled outside of the military.  Of which many have now earned or are near completion of a degree with the most current curriculum in academia.  Where else can you find a degree holding candidate, with a Quarter-Million-Dollar leadership education and looking to start their career at a salary under $60k/yr?  No Ivy-league school can compete with that.

Stay tuned for next week, as I compare and contrast the great assets both Junior Military Officers and Junior Military Enlisted offer while also giving a more in-depth description of each group.  If you can’t wait until then – feed your curiosity by visiting The Veteran Associate Program page on the New York Stock Exchange Website.

How to Create a Veteran Associate Program (Hiring and Program Guides for Managers and Veteran Profiles included along with an incredible study conducted by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families out of Syracuse University.

Followers of LifebyDamien.com have a fair understanding of my passion for placing well qualified Veterans into the opportunities they have earned and demonstrate themselves uniquely qualified to take advantage of.  It is my passion for the success of my fellow Veterans, and my dislike for the distaste of those who are strictly trying to extort the new buzzword/phrase “Returning Veterans” that leads to today’s article.

First, to my fellow Veterans – Be Warned.  Recruiting firms, more often than not are in this game for Money – Period.  Any marketing plot that will bring them money in the nation’s fastest growing industry in the 2000s (Based on $ spent by major corporations) is fair game.  Placing qualified Veterans is a HUGELY marketable ploy for many reasons.  The main reasons include that many Vets leave the military with unique skills, traits, talents and qualifications that make them the perfect walk-on candidate for DoD jobs, Contractor Jobs, and additional spaces through-out.  There is also the appeal it has to the general public that a company “supports our troops” and is “committed to returning Veterans”.  The truth is, FAR too many of these companies are making claims of commitment, yet they have ZERO or negating proof to support such statements.

Recruiting Agencies, Staffing Firms, Placement agencies… are in it to make money.  Many which try to market themselves as “Veteran friendly”, are using the buzzwords and nothing more.  They have no idea, have not studied, and are careless in truly understanding why Veterans are unique in the traits they bare in addition to the skills acquired.  There is an AMAZING, and overly under-known agency, The Institute for Veterans and Military Families, that has completed and shared empirical research that speaks directly to the FINANCIALLY supported arguments that Veterans make high-value candidates for many of the roles in today’s business world and beyond.  The information is out there – it can be supported!  But don’t be fooled into thinking that all agencies are created equal and will have the knowledge equipped to help you, and guide you, as well as present you to employers.  If this raises question marks behind your brow – please do not hesitate to contact me directly.  I will work with you, do what I can – and it doesn’t cost you a thing!

EMPLOYERS:  Yes – be cautioned.  “Knowing a Veteran”, or just getting excited because your multi-thousand dollar resume screening software found a resume that belongs to a Veteran does NOT make you “Committed to Veterans”.  It doesn’t.  If you would like a start in the right direction, send one of your recruiters to the Certified Veteran Recruiting Program written by Emily King.  It’ll cost you upwards of $3000 or more including tuition, travel and stay for your employee, but that is a drop in the bucket compared to one placement isn’t it?  And what about the lifetime value of a new client that values your demonstrated commitment to Veterans and your quality service in its regard to the clients need and desire to hire Veterans?  Your recruiter will at least have had some sort of formal education to understand Veteran Transitions.  A returning Veteran is more than a catch phrase to add to your write-up when presenting a candidate.  Do your research, and then back it up with ACTION!  Action first, then profess whatever commitment you have demonstrated.  An idea without action is not commitment, it is an idea.

Employers, if you truly do want to crack the puzzle and understand how sourcing, presenting and developing Veterans within an organization is legitimately a smart business move that cannot be ignored, contact me – as I can provide consultation.  I know there are HR teams, and organizations that want to be a part of hiring well qualified, high-potential candidates into their organizations and are genuine in doing so.  I am more than happy to help.  If you are looking for your next gimmick, and aren’t ready to make a true commitment – please continue past and come back when you are ready.

For the record, there are some amazing Veteran focused recruiting firms out there, that TRULY know what they are doing, and they have developed relationships with organizations and companies that also want to make true commitments, while also seeing the great value of bringing Veterans into their organizations.  HirePurpose is one – and by the way, the Founder is a former Marine.  Four Block is another amazing organization – Leading Co-Founder, a former Marine, with co-founding Navy and Army counterparts.  Emily King has revolutionized recruiting of Military Veterans at the Buller GroupDiversant has developed an amazing training and work-to-hire program.

There are many amazing companies doing amazing things such as GE, Macy’s and NYSE Euronext – but I cannot forget to add the amazing effort of networking and coordination for those who truly want to be a piece of solution, and that is the team at GoldenOrb.org.

I always welcome feedback, whether in support of my argument, or in support of higher learning through constructive argument.  I am not a fan of Group Think.

Please, don’t forget to stay in touch with me on LinkedIn and follow me on Twitter, @Mr_DamienB

There has been a lot posted lately about my efforts in Veterans Transitions – and there will be more.  But today, I wanted to take a step back and bring up something that has more to do with general Leadership and Team Building.

While there are many “definitions” of Leadership – most generally focus around the idea of organizing a group of individuals into a team with the focus of reaching a common goal.   Most importantly – there is a focus on a common goal.  There are many studies, theories and methodologies out there that speak to the multitude of motivational theories and personality matching that goes into building a cohesive team that will reach and set new goals.  For fun, I’m going to dumb-down to look at a comparison.

I’ve seen motivation of 2 or more individuals based on their desire to achieve a goal that benefits both to a level greater than could be obtainable if each attempted to do so on their own (This would suggest synergy – a more comprehensive and overall better explanation can be taken from Stephen Covey’s The 3rd Alternative.  Is the bond, and level of cohesion in that scenario as strong, stronger, or inferior to the bond and level of cohesion obtained when 2 or more are united by a common enemy?

Now I have thought about this… and I am not sure which is more powerful in the long run.  However, in thought – I believe being united by a common enemy is often more influential and bonding when dealing with a diverse group of individuals with pre-existing aversions towards each other.  I’ve also seen many examples of manipulating individuals into bonding through the threat of a common enemy – as I am sure most of you have.  Let’s look at some.

If you have had siblings – How many times were you and your sibling punished after bickering or fighting by your parents?  So much so that the punishment dealt by your parents made you and your sibling work together to bare the punishment, or even more so, try to out-smart your parent – after such you and your sibling(s) were left with a tighter bond and deeper understanding of each other?

If you are in a direct sales role, where multiple sales teams operate in the same region – there is that one sales team that always wins the contests and bonuses.  You find yourself teaming up and sharing ideas with another team – that would normally be competition, almost solely for the sake of keeping the top team from winning once again.

In the military – it happens EVERY DAY at the ground roots.  In one of the finest and most renowned leadership courses our nation has seen, high school graduates by the hundreds, from all over the nation land on yellow foot prints at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego or Parris Island.  Many times with the testosterone drive, A-type personalities sought after by USMC recruiters.  Once assigned to a platoon, before they can figure out if they like each other or not – recruits realize their greatest, and only ally against the wrath of Drill Instructors is each other.  If you’ve yet to see what Recruits will do, as a cohesive unit, in an effort to avoid the wrath or even further impress their Drill Instructors – you might be grossly underestimating the power of unity through a common “enemy”.

Anyhow, there are many ways to motivate a group of individuals in order to create a team.  But many of the most cohesive, successful and well-oiled teams I’ve formed, been a part of, or observed have all at some point, experienced a period of bonding induced by their own unity against a common enemy.  By no means is that the solution to building a team – but a very interesting piece of the puzzle to be considered.

 

How have you seen it in your situation?

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