Nelson said it best

Admiral, that is.

This follows on last week’s post about the importance of a Mission Statement in allowing for adaptability. Bear with me.

Last year I had the pleasure of hearing Lindsay McGregor speak about her book Primed to Perform, while working on new systems for a company with a growing sales team.

McGregor and Doshi’s book is premised on the principle that great leaders lead by creating great leaders. I happen to agree, and will go one step further saying that this can only be done with a strong mission statement.

McGregor opened her presentation by telling the story of Admiral Nelson’s Battle at Trafalgar, using this as an example of how a strong strategy and empowered team led to a successful outcome.

You can find a good summary of Nelson’s strategy here – this blog is about a different subject matter but the author has created this summary useful to our purposes. Nelson chose to use a fairly new approach to naval warfare – one he did not invent but seeked to perfect. What was different about Nelson’s approach was his focus on mission rather than tactics:

Nelson was careful to point out that something had to be left to chance. Nothing is sure in a sea fight, and he left his captains free from all hampering rules by telling them in his Trafalgar Memorandum of Oct. 9, 1805, that “No captain can do very wrong if he places his ship alongside that of the enemy.” In short, circumstances would dictate the execution, subject to the guiding rule that the enemy’s rear was to be cut off and superior force concentrated on that part of the enemy’s line.”

Because everyone understood the mission and goals, they were able to adapt to circumstances in order to achieve them.