I recently listened to a webinar hosted by a company called Gravy and their CEO Casey Graham. They had invited a guest speaker by the name of Colonel Derek Lane from the Marine Corps. Colonel Lane shared how the Marine Corps organizes themselves, their focus, their leadership, and their efforts to be successful in protecting our country. To say listening to him was impressive is an understatement. I’m going to do my best over this and the following three episodes to impart some of the amazing insights Colonel Lane shared in that 1-hour timespan. His first topic is what I would call: have you identified the most critical position in your business?
Colonel Lane was talking about mission ownership and how they align the entire Marine Corps around a common mission. He stated (and please know that I have no military experience, so I’m providing you with my interpretation) that a Marine is a rifleman and that their job is to protect our country and our assets. Knowing that each person’s role in the Marines is to support the riflemen, the men and women on the ground executing the various missions, that’s how they are successful.
Everyone else exists to support those Marines on the front lines, because they are the tip of the spear.
The discussion then went to civilian businesses. We all have company missions and “things we want to accomplish.” Ultimately we all have to understand what our mission is in our business. Then we have to find our tip of the spear. Which person, team, or department directly executes that mission?
You see, for us to be successful in business, for us to achieve our business mission, we all have to understand not only what we stand for and what we are trying to accomplish, but we have to be abundantly clear about which team is EXECUTING the mission and therefore the honest fact that all other teams in the organization exist to support that team. Period.
I have seen businesses struggle with that last fact. They are in a customer service business. Therefore the tip of the spear is the team or teams that work directly with the customer, delivering that service. All other groups, sales, marketing, HR, IT, finance, etc., they all exist to support that customer service group. Until you can acknowledge this and align your entire team around this fact and around supporting the mission through supporting the executing team, your business will not be as successful as it could be.
Listening to Colonel Lane, that resinated with me. Again, I have seen companies struggle with supporting the main team or teams that execute the mission directly. They want everyone to feel special or feel like they matter. The point is, everyone matters. The tip of the spear wouldn’t be successful without the rest of the spear behind it. But there can only be one tip, and many leaders struggle with telling their total team that fact.
My challenge for you today is to think about this. Have you identified the most critical position in your business? Are you trying to make sure everyone feels valued to the point that it’s degrading the execution and achievement of your mission? How do you adjust to ensure everyone feels valuable while also understanding their role and how it fits into the mission?