One of the first things you learn in the Marine Corps is how critical effective communication is. This is a hallmark of inspired leadership. Whether it is within your fire-team, squad, platoon, company, battalion, or a larger group, the more your team members know the better.
One time-tested tool is the five-paragraph order, which organizes mission-critical information about the situation, mission and execution. Marines also value effective communication throughout the day in morning formations, counseling sessions, detailed explanation of fitness report evaluations, and continuous assessment and feedback.
A stereotype of the military may be that the majority of us are “just” good at taking orders. But the truth is that whenever a leader pushes out a plan of some sort, he or she allows time for questions and clarifications. We understand that clear communication can be the difference between life and death, and a critical part of taking care of those you are privileged to lead.
This is not to say that a leader’s decisions are up for debate, but that our leaders honor their troops by being clear in explaining their vision.
This is why our new president’s continuing habit of reaching out to the American public through tweets is particularly frustrating for me. Putting aside his personal attacks on individuals he doesn’t agree with in those texts, this choice of communication platform is exasperating on several levels. First, it is so limited and often creates more questions than answers. Second, the language he uses is extremely vague and dumbs down complicated issues. And third, this is classic one-way communication with no way for the listener to connect or ask follow-up questions.
I certainly do not expect our president to hold a press conference every time he rolls out a new policy. I would rather have him working on the many important issues facing our country on a daily basis. But at the same time, I want some assurance that his analysis of these vexing issues is deeper than a tweet or two.
Right now, it is hard to determine that, and I think it would be much better for our country if he provided more details as to his thought process. Significantly, he came into office without winning the popular vote—educating those who did not vote for him about his decision-making process would go a long way towards unifying the country.
Justin Constantine is an inspirational speaker, leadership consultant, entrepreneur and a TED lecturer, who serves as a liaison between the military and corporate communities. He is the author of the new book “My Battlefield, Your Office: Leadership Lessons from the Front Lines,” now available on Amazon. A Presidential Leadership Scholar, Justin is also a fellow with the Truman National Security Project. Justin received a Purple Heart for his service in Iraq with the U.S. Marine Corps. To learn more, visit: www.justinconstantine.com.