Nariman Teymourian: On the battlefield Featured

8:01pm EDT April 30, 2012
Nariman Teymourian: On the battlefield

Situational awareness is a fundamental part of managing a team when you’re on the battlefield. It’s imperative that you know the terrain and the environment you are entering. You need to have the right equipment to get the job done, and you need to understand the enemy — your competitors.

For example, if you’re doing a beach landing, you need equipment that doesn’t get you stuck in sand. The last thing that you want is to jump out of a plane with your flippers on, only to land somewhere other than in the water. It sounds simple. But you would be surprised how many of these simple principles are overlooked in planning.

The Marines teach clear and concise planning, which is also valuable to you as a corporate leader. You must formulate a very clear business strategy. It doesn’t have to be the ultimate plan or remain unchanged for all time, but it has to be a plan that you and your team believe in. In an environment that requires everyone to work very hard — whether it’s because you’re getting the business off the ground, changing direction, going through difficult financial times or up against a big, competitive threat — it’s vital to have a strategy that you can communicate clearly and will be understood by those following you.

While he or she must have a strategy and a plan of action, a leader also needs to make sure that the plan is flexible, understanding when and how you will need to adapt or improvise in the future. Marines are taught the key skills of improvisation, adaptation and perseverance, particularly in times of duress. There is no room for fear, because it will only cripple you. Instead, make sure you have a plan that accounts for many possible outcomes and can adjust depending on how these outside forces affect it. You may be banking on a strategy, but you should be flexible enough to adopt a new strategy and execute on it when you need to. If you see things aren’t working with Plan A, you should always have a Plan B and be prepared to implement it. That said, if you and your team believe you have the right market and the right product, you should persevere until success is achieved and your mission is accomplished.

Lastly, it’s valuable to learn strategies on how to identify problems in advance and how to identify your leading team members. You don’t always have a chance to contact HR when you’re on the battlefield. This isn’t necessarily the case in most of corporate America, but in companies that need to be agile, it’s important to understand the issues that employees are facing in advance, before they become a problem at a critical time. When it comes to planning effectively, people are always the key to success or failure. So staying aware of your people’s thoughts and feelings, and of course, taking time to judge yourself as a leader is a critical piece. Do you look at yourself honestly to deal with your own strengths and compensate for your weaknesses?

In the business world, you must know the market you’re in — what world you’ll be landing and fighting in — so that you can know whether or not you have the right equipment to win there. It is critical that you have the right product, the right team and the right mindset for the environment you’re going into, but don’t forget, it also takes a well-thought-out strategy to ensure success.

Nariman Teymourian is chairman and CEO of Gale Technologies. He spent 20 years in the Marines, including seven years of active duty in Marine Recon and four years of combat, he and participated in more than 50 missions. A CEO and COO for more than 15 years, Nariman has held executive positions in several large companies, including TRW, MicroAge and Lockheed-Martin, and he has extensive government experience as a senior adviser, consultant and researcher with the U.S. Departments of Energy, Defense and State and related government agencies such as the RAND Corp., Council on Foreign Relations and the World Bank.