Innovation, Professionalism, Pride

Take the Communication Assessment in the Week 7 lecture. After completing the assignment, write a 250 to 300 word essay reflecting on your experience and your communication style. Discuss how you can leverage your strengths and improve upon your communication skills to become a better leader.


All organizations would be ecstatic to find the majority of their members displaying these characteristics. Ironically, these are the hallmarks of a very unique organization. It has a 200 year history and has accomplished revolutionary and monumental tasks. The organization is the U.S. Department of Defense. The character, discipline, and enthusiasm that permeates this organization is not coerced, it is instilled and cultivated.


Most Americans who have not been members of the military are shocked to discover that in the midst of “good order” thrives a culture of innovation. Ask the average person what they think the military is like, and you will get responses that conjure images of mindless robots, programmed to follow orders without question.

The actual cultural norm is just the opposite and that goes from the top generals to brand new recruits in basic training. For those who have spent time in the military, the familiar mantra from day one is continuous improvement. Each branch of the service (Army, Navy , Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard) has its own cash award program. Each branch rewards innovation and ideas by giving away thousands of dollars to its members. Ironically, the return on their investment can be millions or even billions of tax payer dollars. Talk about a win-win situation!!

The majority of military members utilize an entrepreneurial approach in their jobs. They firmly believe in what they are doing. Each year, these veterans get better and better at what they do, resulting in the best military force across the globe. They do not brag; they simply are part of an organizational climate that is ripe for innovation. Leadership continually fosters, encourages, and rewards those who become champions of finding better ways to accomplish the mission. Their experience teaches them to be the best at what they do each and every day, and that theme echoes across the Department of Defense.

One of the most famous supporters of this philosophy and experience is Kelly Perdew. Kelly won the most recent season of The Apprentice television show. On his website and in his new book, he echoes the vital lessons he learned in the military:

“As a West Point graduate, US Ranger, and U.S. Army Intelligence Officer I didn’t just serve in the Military; I passionately embraced it with everything I had. In return, the military taught me principles that guide my everyday life and have helped me to thrive personally, professionally, and even on reality TV. In fact, I believe success will come to anyone who adheres to…military principles” (Perdew, 2006, p.1).


Kelly’s story is a great example of the professionalism that results from giving one’s all. There are many dedicated professionals who continue to reenlist because they believe in what they are doing and choose to make a career out of what they see as an honorable vocation. This choice to remain affiliated with the organization is an intrinsic and a conscious choice. The reasons people choose to stay in the military are many, from love of country, retirement, adventure, sense of duty, etc., but motive aside, the end result is professional service with honor, integrity, and sacrifice. That sense of sacrifice sometimes culminates in giving one’s life for his or her country, also known as the ultimate sacrifice. To those of us who cannot comprehend such a deed, it is not ours to understand unless we are faced with that decision. Our responsibility is to support and honor those who have willingly made that choice, regardless of our political views.

As with many successful organizations, camaraderie exists within the branches of the military. Most veterans feel this is what they miss most about leaving military service. Many veterans recall reporting to a new civilian job after being discharged, and they were ready to do their best. Immediately, they spot opportunities for change all around them; they cannot contain themselves and must express their views about certain procedures or processes. In their old world (the military), their input and views would be welcomed and carefully considered. Sadly, in many organizations, they are told to keep their opinions and ideas to themselves. “You are here to do a job, and that’s all.” These exact words ring in the ears of veterans constantly. Is it any wonder loyalty is not a consistent characteristic among employees at the vast majority of today’s corporations?

Contrast that experience with military experience. Comrades are like family, and each person is motivated to actively work and to build the best organization for all involved. This is why input is sought, implemented, and rewarded! You may have experienced this in other groups or organizations. The end result is a sense of pride that not only produces loyalty, but also results in dedication and a desire to be the best one can be. There is also an overwhelming desire to be a part of the best organization anywhere.

What about your Organization?

So that is our challenge to organizations and to individuals. You are left with a question to ponder:

How can you make YOUR organization, the ONLY organization, anywhere near YOUR organization, like YOUR organization?

If you do not feel that the company you work for is YOUR company, perhaps it may be time to reevaluate yourself or your job. It may be time to move on or to make some personal changes. The bottom line is if you are not in a culture of innovation, or are not in a place where you are a recognized and appreciated professional, or you have no sense of belonging or camaraderie, you may be ripe for finding a new job…or for enlisting! (Just kidding).

To our veterans and current military members, we say “thank you for your service to our country”!

Conflict and negotiation.

Part of what you’ll learn this week is how to deal with conflict and negotiation. As you know, there is conflict in any organization. Though the word conflict often has negative connotations, it is not always a bad thing. Conflict, if dealt with effectively, can lead to growth and learning. Communication is a key to conflict resolution. Your communication style affects every interaction you have, and if you learn to communicate effectively, you will be able to deftly handle almost any conflict. It’s an art, and I am confident you can all master it.

Another art that is closely tied to communication is negotiation. Maybe you’ve heard people say “the art of negotiation.” It’s a common saying, and the reasons are clear. Negotiation is like a dance. You have to give and take, and an artful negotiator will persuade people to see things his or her way without any strong arming. Have you ever been sold something you didn’t need or even want, and during the process, you didn’t even realize you were being sold? How did that person convince you? Most people are turned off by abrasive and pushy sales people. It’s those who excel at communication and negotiation who are most likely to win you over. Negotiation is uncomfortable for many people–even great communicators–but with practice, you can become good at it. You may even become an artful negotiator. Wouldn’t that be nice?

This week, your assignment is to take a communication inventory. You will learn a bit about your communication style and your personality through the exercise and the short essay you will write. (My self-assessment score: Introvert -1, Extravert -7, Preparedness – 1, Assertiveness -7)


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