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Can Mission Command be used beyond the military?

Written by on 18 October 2010

Mission Command is the British Military Command philosophy. We understand it as a powerful implementation tool that engages the wider work force in the decision making process. It creates a strong culture of commitment and produces high performance teams.

Whilst this may sound too good to be true, there are some pre-requisites that are required before Mission Command can be translated across into the business space.

Values based leadership

The leaders within the organisation must believe in the benefits of true empowerment and developing their subordinates. This requires trust and risk and can be a very uncomfortable process for many people in business operating in a risk-averse culture.

Prepared to take risks

Leaders and subordinates must be able to take risks. This can involve personal risks through commitment to a project or taking personal responsibility for an action. It may even be organisational risk, trusting individuals to make “big” decisions.

Risk is a difficult issue to come to terms with as a management philosophy. Instinctively, we spend a great deal of time trying to mitigate risk and in doing so; we can stifle creativity and innovations.

Building trust

Leaders need to build trust between themselves and their subordinates across the organisation, upholding and promoting the organisation’s values and ensuring that these values are maintained, - especially in the most testing of times.

Delivering on your promises

Leaders must have integrity. One of the most tangible signs of integrity is doing what you said you would and this is fundamental in building trust. It should never be compromised for short-term expedient reasons.

Having belief

Leaders need to be committed, must believe in their objectives and in the teams they lead. They should mentor, push and encourage individuals to achieve standards and objectives that the individuals never thought they could achieve themselves. Nurturing the team is critical when it comes to producing sustainable innovation and achieving competitive advantage.

Shared thinking

Time must be spent communicating plans and objectives but, even more importantly, why these objectives are worth striving for. People need to understand, have time to ask questions and commit to the benefits of the action.

A word of warning

Mission Command is an attractive concept and is highly effective but its not achievable, or even the right thing to do, for all businesses. It places demands on individuals and organisations that can some times be too much to attain. So, be careful not to break the mould trying to achieve goal what may not be achievable!

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