Commercial Warfare

Business is “up against it” at the moment and maybe it is time to re-visit how we, as a nation, dealt with hard and challenging times in years gone by. There is no point waiting for the recession to blow over – we need to fight our way out of it!

Did you know that “business” is built around pure military strategy? Hundreds of years ago, when business started to move from local crafts to large-scale production on a revolutionary scale, there were only two models for the business men and women of the day to study and copy. One was the Church and the other was the Army. Not surprisingly, the Army was the model that was copied and its four key strategies are still in evidence today:

  • Offence
  • Defence
  • Alliance
  • Deterrence


We have a lot to learn from the Military – for example, the ten principles of warfare shaped on the battlefield centuries ago still fit our business world toda

  1. Clear objectives
  2. Maintenance of morale
  3. The need for offensive action
  4. Surprise
  5. Security
  6. Concentration of force
  7. Economy of effort
  8. Flexibility
  9. Co-operation with others
  10. Good admin and support


Good commercial “generals” also learn from their mistakes. Here are the ten reasons behind the hundred most famous military disasters. Again, you will see that our business world is affected by the same issues.

Think of your business and how it has operated in recent years. Give yourself marks out of ten for each of the ten points:


  1. Not learning from previous experiences 
  1. Underestimating the enemy 
  1. Overestimating own capabilities 
  1. Indecisiveness
  1. Rejecting sound intelligence which conflicts with own preconceptions
  1. Poor reconnaissance
  1. Suppressing feedback from the soldiers at the front
  1. Attacking the enemy’s strongest point
  1. Finding scapegoats after defeat
  1. A belief in mystical forces like “fate” and “bad luck”


How many did you score?


So ………… is your sales team a formidable fighting force? Do you have all of your castles in the right places, are you dominating the high ground, do you have well-trained people led by effective leaders, do you have the resources to equip your people with good quality weapons and ammunition i.e. tools to bring the business in?  Next time you put your military hat on please check to make sure that your guns are pointing outside the organisation, not inside. Attack your competitors, not each other. Remove “friendly fire” – there is nothing friendly about it at all. In the military world, 20% of all casualties in the last 300 years have been caused by “friendly fire”. What damage is currently being done by inter-departmental warfare and tribalism within your business?

It is very rare to find a team that deliberately goes out of its way to make another team’s life a misery. However, teams often cause each other a huge amount of grief by not understanding the 3P’s – each other’s problems, pressures and priorities. “Priority one” for one team is inevitably priority seventeen for another team!

Here is an idea you may like to implement to remove friendly fire – Internal Audits – managers from two departments sit down with each other over coffee and go through the following questions


  1. Where is my team meeting your expectations?
  2. Where are we exceeding your expectations?
  3.  Where are we falling short of your expectations?
  4.  What have been the high points in recent months?
  5.  What have been the low points?
  6.  Who, in my team, deserves a “mention in dispatches”?
  7.  Who could have done more?
  8.  How do you feel about my performance?
  9.  What unresolved issues are there?
  10.  What does my team need to understand about your team’s future priorities?
  11.  How can we help you in the future?
  12.  Is there anything else I need to know

“The quality of service we give the customer is influenced by the quality of service we give each other!”

“Rosabeth Moss Kanter”


Now it’s time to look at leadership. Look after your sales troopers and they will look after you. Inspirational leadership and welfare is key to survival. Here is a great story from the Commanding Officer of a US Marine Corps unit: 

I will always remember my first posting – I was paired with a very experienced Sergeant, Ian Smith, who had well over twenty years experience. My learning process began on the first day of our partnership. My overly ambitious plan to issue gas masks and have the Marines clean their weapons in the same afternoon caused many men to miss their dinner.

Morale suffered and the next day Sergeant Smith gave me his assessment of what had gone wrong. “Sir, your plan failed because you did not consult the experienced leaders in this unit – we have conducted these drills countless times before and know what to do.”

During our time together he also taught me a lot about the importance of developing others – he could always find time to share with others his views on the principles and values of the unit. 

He knew a lot about “welfare”. Whenever a Marine faced a personal emergency Sergeant Smith focused his attention on it until it was resolved – he would often visit the Marine in the evening or phone from home. If the men were transferred to another unit he would always put in three-four follow up actions to ensure that their welfare needs were being met.

My leadership approach today was fashioned and shaped by his genuine care and support for them, and me, then!”

Col. J. A. Santamaria


Some final thoughts on (commercial) warfare come courtesy of a certain Mr. Napoleon, CEO of a formidable fighting force. These thoughts and principles still apply to sales teams today!


  • “March dispersed – fight concentrated!” 
  • “An army of stags led by a lion is more formidable than an army of lions led by a stag!” 
  • “It is not speeches at the moment of battle that render soldiers brave – the veteran scarcely listens to them and the new recruit forgets them at the first shot.  If speeches by leaders are useful at all it is during the campaign – meeting soldiers on the ground, doing away with unfavourable rumours and keeping alive a proper spirit in the camp.”
  • “An army’s effectiveness depends on its size, training, experience and morale …………. and morale is worth more than all the other factors combined!”
  • “I won most of the battles I fought ……………… because I only fought battles I mostly thought I could win!”











The Secrets of Leadership Success (EBook Download)

If you want to be the very best sales leader you possibly can be then this book is for you!

Here are some of the things you are going to learn:

  • What is leadership?
  • Leadership vs. Management
  • Are leaders born or made?
  • Some popular theories about leadership
  • Leadership and Intelligence
  • Levels of leadership in organisations
  • Leading high performing teams
  • Leadership and change
  • Leading the organisation vs. building the organisation
  • Three key areas of leadership focus
  • Key leadership qualities
  • Leadership and organisational culture
  • The flexible leader – a range of leadership styles
  • Strategic thinking and strategic planning
  • Leadership and self awareness
  • How to develop yourself as a leader
  • What do exceptional leaders do?

By Simon Hazeldine


Sellcius OnLine

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How Do I Create The Right Organisational Culture?

The culture of your organisation shapes and influences your people’s behaviour and the effective leader will recognise this and contribute to building an organisational culture that supports the vision of the organisation.

“Culture is the way that people behave when
their boss isn’t around!”

The subject of organisational culture has become increasingly popular with modern leaders. Every organisation has a culture whether the people who belong to and lead the organisation are consciously aware of it or not.

So what is ‘culture’?  One interesting definition is that “culture is the way that people behave when their boss isn’t around!”

Culture can be thought of as things that are:

Explicit and visible e.g. Behaviour, titles and building

Implicit and invisible e.g. Norms, values, beliefs

Organizational culture shapes and influences people’s behaviour and the effective leader will recognise this and contribute to building an organisational culture that supports the vision of the organisation.

Culture can be quite a subtle and complex concept, and it is helpful to understand the elements that contribute to it and blend together to create it.

David Cowley fromAshridgeManagementCollegedescribes culture as a ‘web’ that is made up of various strands or elements. These include:


The symbols prevalent in an organisation contribute towards its culture and these include the dress code (is it a formal or informal?), status symbols or the apparent lack of them (e.g. parking places, directors dining room), building layout (how are offices allocated?), Role models (which members of the organisation are regarded as role models?)

Routines and Rituals

The events that take place in an organisation also influence the culture. These would include things like regular meetings (weekly team meeting, monthly sales meeting), and recognition events and ceremonies as well as more informal events such as office parties.

Control systems

The systems that are used to observe and monitor various aspects of the organisation will make a significant contribution to shaping the organisational culture. These include budgets, financial reporting, surveys of customers and employees, remuneration/rewards and training.

Power structures

The various power structures in the organisation also exert an influence onto the organisational culture and include the CEO, the board, departments within the organisation, shareholders, trade unions as well as more informal networks that may exist.

Myths & Stories

The stories that are told in an organisation are a further contributor to organisational culture. Who are the heroes and villains? What are the great successes that are talked about? And what are the great failures? What is talked about from the past and the future?

This complex web of factors all contribute to each organisations unique and distinct culture.

The effective leader needs to understand the elements that make up an organisations culture.  Organisational culture exerts a powerful influence over people’s behaviour and therefore the results that they deliver.

The effective leader will consider what sort of culture will be most appropriate in their organisation (or their part of an organisation) and then understand that they, as the leader, play a powerful role in shaping this culture.

Leaders shape culture by:

  • What they pay attention to
  •  What they measure & control on a regular basis
  •  How they react to critical incidents and crises.
  •  How they are seen to allocate scarce resources (e.g. budgets)
  •  How they are seen to allocate rewards and status
  •  By deliberate role modelling
  •  By teaching and coaching
  •  How they are seen to allocate rewards and status
  •  How they are seen to recruit, select, promote, retire and excommunicate organisational members

It is time for you as a leader to consider what culture your organisation has now.  What culture does it require for the future?
What can you do as a leader to shape your organisations culture?
How can you shape and influence it so that it best serves and supports the vision, mission, goals, aims and objectives of your organisation?


Simon Hazeldine


Sellcius OnLine