June 6th was the 68th anniversary of D-Day, the Allied landing at Normandy which turned the tide of World War II. Operation Overlord, the code name for the Allied invasion of Europe, was lead by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower and involved 160,000 Allied troops, along with more than 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircraft. The operation, which proved to be successful, holds great lessons for business owners today.
Think of Gen. Eisenhower as the CEO of a large corporation involving 160,000 employees. His generals were his managers. He had the vision for victory, and set the tone for the operation, telling his troops:
“I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle.”
Gen. Eisenhower demonstrated a number of leadership lessons that business owners can employ today. In Col. Leonard Kloeber, Jr.’s book, Victory Principles: Leadership Lessons from D-Day, seven principles are listed:
- Innovation and learning
- Capabilities: people and resource
- Timing decisions: AIME decision model (Access the situation; Implement a simple plan; Make it happen; Evaluate the situation)
- Operating principles and values
- Your team and team building
While your business doesn’t put lives at stake, like Eisenhower had to do, you do have economic lives at risk. The success or failure of your business decisions and conduct will impact your staff, your customers, your vendors, and even your community.
Thinking like a general, making tough decisions in light of your vision and your resources, and relying on a team that you build are great lessons from D-Day for today.