Are Navy Seals Marines

management: "The toughest job interview in the world"


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Many business consultants who are recommending the military's methods these days see the drill routines for a completely different purpose than training their ability to work under stress. "Above all, it's about motivation, the feeling of togetherness," says author and consultant Jon R. Katzenbach - sealing in the mud as a shared experience, as group therapy, as an initiation ritual. With the American Marines, the introductory training lasts for months, and even the twelve-week basic training in the notorious boot camps focuses on conveying the "core values" of the organization. OCS boss Smith wants to instill "honor, courage and willingness to make sacrifices" into his candidate. And solidarity. "When a U.S. Marine gets out of breath, comrades must carry his rifle."

The only question is how to translate such soldier honor into the world of business. "If the employees are to put all their capabilities behind a company or an organization, then they have to be proud of the common cause - that helps a lot more than financial incentives," says Katzenbach. And anyway: When the management consultancy McKinsey investigated the "emotional employee loyalty" in large American corporations and organizations a few years ago, the Marine Corps landed in first place. "Especially for a company in crisis," Katzenbach continued, "I would recommend imitating the military and investing in the pride of their employees." He advises his customers to assign key personnel in the company as so-called motivation officers, as pride builders. "They go through the company and tell people: We can do it! Show the assholes out there that we can!"

Robert Lee of Uncommon Leadership, meanwhile, recommends that managers spend much more time training and educating their staff. "In the military, you can't call a headhunter and order new soldiers," he says. "You have to work with those who have them - and you have to motivate them from the start." The consultant believes that a good organization can be recognized by how it deals with new employees. "Do you get a tour of the company, a parking lot, fairy tales for the canteen? Many companies don't even think about such things and alienate their employees from the start."

Everyone has to answer in an emergency

The author David Freedman, in his book Corps Business thoroughly reveals the leadership methods of the U.S. Marines goes even further: He would like to recommend the complete management and hierarchical structures of the Marines to many companies right away. "The Marines specialize in working in chaotic, changing conditions," says Freedman. "That sounds like a familiar scenario to many managers." He worked out a total of 30 "principles" of the Marines. From "learning through leadership" - each department is led by a senior young lieutenant and an experienced soldier - to the step-by-step planning of structural changes (so that all units are always ready to fight, even though they are currently being rebuilt). From the constant rotation of responsibilities to "leadership when required": every single soldier learns to lead a "fire team" in an emergency and not to wait for instructions from superiors. This creates responsive units and flexible organizations.

Some American companies have gone even further in recent years and - such as General Electric - have occupied part of their management levels with soldiers. When the University of Pennsylvania was recently looking for a new director, it hired General Clifford L. Stanley. "I had offers from the private sector across the country at the time," says Stanley. "Soldiers as bosses are in great demand at the moment." With success? The Marines proudly tell of ex-Marine Fred Smith, who turned the Federal Express parcel service into a global corporation.

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