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“My work is strongly concerned with communicating the idea that leading people into an uncertain environment involves a great deal of personal discipline and focus. It isn’t just being the boss. In the Leadership Positioning Toolkit I chose to discuss the emerging requirements of leadership by presenting a system for leaders to develop their ‘Warrior Spirit.’ I deliberately chose that term because of the overlap between leading people in combat and in highly competitive and demanding business environments. I’ve mixed ideas from leadership development in the military and in business.

“It became clear during my research that every society has an approach for inculcating the spirit of the warrior in their people. It’s not easy to go to war---acting against your own ingrained self-interest. Business is not trivial and its processes should not be frivolous or sloppy. Leaders need to inspire the best in their people, challenge the strong, help those who need to improve and focus on results.

“One thing that societies do to inculcate their warriors is to focus on building group cohesion. The more the group in the trenches are bonded together, the more successful they are in accomplishing their mission and surviving. A lot of these factors struck me as being very similar to what business leaders needed to do to promote a common purpose: To put their own personal fears or pride aside in service of the enterprise, its purpose.”

I’ve read a lot about partnering recently, and in the past, I’ve always thought of it in terms of strategic partnering, working with other people or companies providing products that compliment yours. But you frequently talk of partnering with your customers. Can you tell me how that works?

“I’ll give you an example of a family business in the vending industry. Their vending machines were in various corporate settings: businesses, small manufacturers, etc. They often had a fairly anonymous relationship with their customers: ‘There are plenty of other people who can put vending machines in our facilities, so if you don’t give us the best percentage of the sales, or if you don’t do enough business, we’ll go to someone else. And while you’re at it, lower your prices!’ They were seen as commodity suppliers.


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