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What To Do When Action is Needed

In response to the recent naval incidents involving US ships, including collisions involving the USS Fitzgerald and the John S. McCain, in which 17 sailors were killed, the Secretary of the Navy, Richard V. Spencer acknowledged, "We have a problem in the Navy, and we're going to fix it."

© STR/AFP/AFP/Getty Images This picture shows damages on the guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald off the Shimoda coast after it collided with a Philippine-flagged container ship on June 17, 2017.

Photo Credit: © STR/AFP/AFP/Getty Images This picture shows damages on the guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald off the Shimoda coast after it collided with a Philippine-flagged container ship on June 17, 2017.

This is about as big as problems can get, and most of us will never have to worry about fixing the largest naval force in the world. In listening to the Secretary, it sounded like he was sincere in wanting to make changes. But how is that going to happen? The Secretary laid out a general overview of his plan. If you compare his plan to the L.E.A.D.E.R. Action Method ©, developed by CMF Leadership Consulting, you'll see very similar behaviors.

Problem-solving and decision-making all have the same basic steps. 1. Identifying the information/problem, etc., 2. Organizing or orienting the information to understand the issue, problem, etc., 3. Determining options to take to solve the problem, 4. Some type of action or plan implementation to achieve the goals, results, or remove or reduce the problem, and 5. Assessing the results and making some type of course correction or evaluation. Almost all decision making models follow these steps.

Yet, for most people remember specific steps is difficult unless it makes sense to them, or they have an easy way to remember and/or apply the steps. The CMF L.E.A.D.E.R. Action Method © is set up to use the word "leader" to walk someone through the application of different leadership theories in a practical problem-solving/decision-making process. The LEADER Action Method is designed to:

  1. Identify what is happening.

  2. Account for what is happening.

  3. Formulate leader actions and responses

  4. Review for results.

Here’s how it works:

Locate: specific, isolated, actionable, conditions of focus, from the primary leader’s perspective.

  • Each specific action, behavior, etc., that can stand alone is a “condition of focus.”

  • It has to be specific enough that it stands alone and is able to be addressed as a behavior all by itself.

  • Include as many as needed to address the unwanted issues

Evaluate and establish a logical sequence of events.

  • What caused this to occur? Is there a systemic problem? How did this opportunity arise?

  • Why do I need to make this decision?

Analyze leadership theories and experiences.

  • What leadership theories are able to be identified? Equity issue? Team dynamic issue? Conflict issue?

  • Identifying the theories involved helps the leader determine what action to take (or not take) to reduce or eliminate the problem, seize the opportunity, or make the decision

Determine derivation – and how far away from the expectation, along with understanding the underlying cause.

  • Helps the leader know how much effort, resources, need to be committed to the change process.

Establish and employ leader strategy (strategies) in a leader action plan.

  • Determine possible strategies to address each specific “condition of focus.”

  • These should be placed in a plan using SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based) for each specific “Condition of Focus.”

  • Establish a plan to address the conditions of focus. (Address all “COF’s” is usually the best.)

  • Employ the strategies from the plan and create a record of the results.

Review results and assess for motivation, satisfaction, and performance.

  • Set up a specific time period that allows for results to be observed. This may need to be done several time, as in a system of checks that is usually more frequent at the beginning of the change process, and reduces as the COF’s are addressed. (Example: Review results at: 1 week, 3, weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, 9 months, 15 months, etc. check to ensure the problem has been resolved)

  • Once the problem has been solved, the decision implemented, the opportunity achieved, then assess for results.

  • If the results are not acceptable, begin the process over, making adjustments as needed until the result is acceptable.

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER… Leadership theories (or any theory for that matter) is only as good as it can be applied in a practical sense. The CMF L.E.A.D.E.R. Action Method© was specifically designed to help people make decisions, solve problems, and seize opportunities by using a simple acronym of L.E.A.D.E.R. as a reminder of the steps needed to apply the theories. We may not have to "fix a problem" as big as the U.S. Navy, but when any problem, opportunity, or need to make a decision arises, anyone can be a leader by using the L.E.A.D.E.R. Action Method© to help them work through it. Yes, even the U.S. Navy could use it, but I'm confident that they are already taking care of the problems.


  • “In theory there is no difference between theory and practice, in practice there is.” - Yogi Barra 

  • “He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast.” – Leonardo da Vinci

About the Author: Dr. Chris Fuzie is the author of "S.C.O.R.E. Performance Counseling: Save the Relationship, Change the Behavior," and Owner of CMF Leadership Consulting. Chris is a developer/trainer/consultant for leadership of public, private, profit, and non-profit organizations. Chris holds a Doctorate of Education (Ed.D), M.A. and B.A. in Organizational Leadership, and has graduate certificates in Human Resources and Criminal Justice Education. Chris is honorably retired from the Modesto Police Department after 28 years of public service where he last served as the Assistant Division Commander of Investigations..

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