In military leadership terms, the commander’s intent describes the desired end state. It is a concise expression of the purpose of the operation and must be understood by echelons below the issuing commander. It is the single unifying focus for all subordinate elements. It is not a summary of the concept of the operation.
As a leader, it is important that you explain, with clarity and purpose, what your intention is in regard to the project or task you are having people on your team execute. Confusion, as to your intent, will result in slower production times because team members have to be checking back with you to make even the smallest adjustments in the initial plan. When your team doesn’t achieve its mission or isn’t doing so consistently, you can refer to the following to be sure that you are effectively setting them up for success.
If everyone on your team understands the overall objective of the initiative, then they will have the knowledge necessary to make command decisions at their level that will facilitate the achievement of that outcome. You want your team members to be able to adapt and overcome any obstacle that presents itself as they are executing their tasks.
As General Dwight Eisenhower famously said, “In preparing for battle, PLANS are useless, but PLANNING is indispensable.”
Courtland James, Executive Coach, Cortex Leadership Consulting, will appear on tonight’s 10pm news with Bill Wadell and with Kathlynn Stone on Good Day Virginia tomorrow morning at 7:40am to discuss what he has learned about this topic from being an officer in the Marine Corp.
Make sure your commander’s intent statement:
- Is short and within the scope of the overall operational plan. Make sure your commander’s intent statement matches up with the overall initiative.
- Provides a framework for the project or task. Rather than telling them exactly what to do, the commander’s intent focuses on what needs to be accomplished for them to be successful.
- Can complete the following statement:
If we do nothing else tomorrow (this week), we must ____________________. OR
The single most important thing we can achieve tomorrow (this week) is _______________.