Category: Associate Development and Engagement, Conferences and Events

When Crazy Ideas Move Forward


lisa's-blog-postAt our December managers meeting, I wanted to bring in an outside speaker to inspire our leadership team as we transition into the new year.

Here’s the Crazy Idea: I reached to a friend and former colleague that I had not spoken to in years – Lt. Colonel John Griffin, USMC. John is a Boston Financial alum, having worked here for almost five years before transitioning full time into the Marines.

John’s been busy. His experiences include Middle East and North African Regional Affairs Officer, a strategic planner, and service in the Special Operations community. He has global experience in 19 countries, with three combat experiences: Somalia 1992; Battle of Fallujah, Iraq 2004; and Helmand Province, Afghanistan 2010. Since leaving Boston Financial, he also managed to earn three master’s degrees.

I knew John had an interesting background and could provide a unique perspective on leadership from a military viewpoint. Reaching out to him felt like a risk since we had not spoken in a long time; I had no idea how his experience may have changed him. Nevertheless, I sent him an email through LinkedIn with the subject line “A Crazy Idea.” He responded and agreed to come speak to our team.

My crazy idea resulted in a unique experience for our leadership team and for John. Until he took the stage to talk to our leadership team, I didn’t realize how compelling both his story and his message are. Listening to John speak, it simultaneously felt like so much time had passed and no time at all – John still had the same humble qualities and fun sense of humor.

Why It Wasn’t So Crazy After All: What I feared was a crazy idea, offered almost 300 Boston Financial leaders a common language about leadership principles derived from John’s experience in the military.


Here are some key takeaways meeting participants have been discussing:

  • Commander’s Intent: Leaders should provide a concise expression of the purpose of the operation, desired end state, and how success will be measured. Essentially, leaders should provide the vision, resources, and training and then, get out of the way. You will build loyalty and trust.
  • Management Dilemma: Ah, the inherent struggle to look behind to solve problems rather than looking ahead to build for the future. Leaders spend a lot of time solving problems rather than creating strategy. There are a number of academic studies that have validated and outlined how much time is wasted by leaders solving problems. Leaders should empower teams to solve problems and operate without them. Imagine the time that can be spent on strategy and building businesses for the future.
  • Leadership style: Stop pulling your team along. Your team should be out in front; it should feel a little uncomfortable – you shouldn’t feel like you have complete control. Your team should not look, act, and think like you.
  • After Action Report: This is an opportunity to debrief on what went right, what went wrong, what can be done better. In the Marines, leadership is present but, it is a “rankless” environment. You need thick skin because you might be called out.
  • “Bloom where you are planted”: You’re not always going to be #1 but, if you do your best, good things will happen. Marines believe you have to be the best professional to give back to the organization and team despite the situation.

John is responsible for the training and preparedness of the Marine Corps reserves throughout New England and upstate New York until the summer of 2015, when he will retire after 28 years in the Corps. He also recently started working as a Leadership Development Consultant for Military Leadership Methods.

Welcome home John and thank you for sharing your ideas and experience and inspiring our leadership team. We look forward to having you as a guest contributor on our Perspectives Blog and further exploring these leadership principles.

To read more about John’s talk at the Boston Financial Manager’s Meeting visit: 33% of Your Time

Lisa Light

Lisa Light

Lisa’s career at Boston Financial has spanned over 25 years and she has held various positions in Operations, Training and Development, Human Resources and Corporate Marketing. She is responsible for corporate sales support, business event management, and corporate communications. Collaborating with our executive and relationship management teams, Lisa facilitates key organizational messages and communication strategies. In conjunction with the sales team, Lisa leads the corporate sales support function resulting in numerous successful key client rebids, new client wins from competitors and additional business process outsourcing. When she’s not working hard, she enjoys guiding her boys through the turbulent teenage years, kibitzing with her girlfriends, and trying to stay alive during her workouts.


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    1. John GriffinJohn Griffin

      @Lisa: That is really flattering. I was glad I could give back to Boston Financial in a meaningful way. I am looking forward to continuing the dialogue with leaders from BFDS.


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