This is Who I am, This is Who we Are!


Good morning! Today’s post is dedicated to a group of leaders who will continue leading the same way next week as they did last week, regardless of what happened in Tuesday’s elections.

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“I am my country’s strength in war, her deterrent in peace.
I am the heart of the fight… wherever, whenever.
I carry America’s faith and honor against her enemies.


“I am mentally tough, physically strong, and morally straight.
I forsake not, my country, my mission, my comrades, my sacred duty.

Who recites a creed like this? Who clarifies their purpose in the world in such a way? Only members of one of the most respected organizations in the United States.
I heard these lines, part of the longer “The Infantryman’s Creed,” recited boisterously and with conviction by young lieutenants graduating from the Army Infantry Officer Basic Course at Fort Benning, Georgia several weeks ago. As I listened, and watched, I was moved.
I wrote several weeks ago that “our nation’s political leaders do not represent a vast pool of leadership role models that I could endorse right now.” Indeed, the yearly Gallup survey of “Confidence in Institutions” indicates most Americans agree.
However, can you guess which institution in our country receives our most votes of confidence?
That would be the United States military. Click here to see the survey.
The military is but one institution that codifies its purpose and principles. Another is Amazon. You don’t have to dig far to uncover Amazon’s Leadership Principles, which begins with the word “We . . .” and ends with the principle “Deliver Results.” I think all of its stakeholders would agree.
You can google and easily find examples of other company’s credo’s.
Do you call these Culture statements? Mission statements? Values statements? Consultants might spend time arguing over the labels.
I would simply say I believe there is a strong correlation between successful companies and companies who have clarity on “who we are.”
If your company needs to do better at this, a great resource is Patrick Lencioni’s The Advantage, which outlines key disciplines of a healthy organization. Discipline #2 is “Create Clarity.” To create clarity, Lencioni walks you through answering six critical questions. Among them:

  • Why do we exist? (Purpose)
  • How do we behave? (Culture)
  • What do we do? (Agreement)

One distinction Lencioni makes is that you have to answer these questions in the context of one another, not in isolation.
How about your company? How would five random employees answer these questions? How about five of your senior leaders?
Don’t wait for a two-day offsite to figure this out. Keep it simple for now. One of my favorite leadership movies depicts the clarity that comes from simplicity. Check out the first five minutes of Gladiator. Russell Crowe’s character, Roman General Maximus, walks down the ranks just before a big battle and exchanges three words with his soldiers:

“Strength and honor.”

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Another thing. This coming Monday is Veteran’s Day. CEO Magazine addresses the questions: What do you learn about leadership in the U.S. military that’s different from anywhere else? And how do those lessons carry over to running a company? One lesson that stands out to me is “know the commander’s intent.” Read the article here.

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Lastly, if you happen to be having a rough day, check out this video of leaders who follow the creed at the top of this post, training to do their job. As I write this, someone I know very well is doing this just now. Strength and Honor, indeed!
Lead well.