Being Aware and Prepared: A Motto for Success and Victory in the New Year

Posted in Motivation with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 2, 2014 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

It is quite simple, really. Like the Boy Scout motto says, ‘Be Prepared’. You never want to be caught short of essential information or valuable resources going into battle; business or otherwise. Being blindfolded and hog-tied is no way to fight and achieve victory. As we go into the new year, let us all have the motto, ‘Be Prepared’, as our first (of many) New Year’s Resolution. Seek and acquire what is necessary and required to perform at the highest possible level.

And, it doesn’t stop with us and OUR preparation. This should extend to those we work with, those who work for us, and those we work for. Let us not find ourselves limiting the knowledge or tools that will help others, and the organization, win the everyday battles we will all face in 2014.

Have a successful and victorious 2014.

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Spirituality in War: Victory Through Faith

Posted in Leadership, Quote of the Day with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 10, 2013 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

Sunday’s Spiritual Quote

“There is no substitute for the spiritual, in war.  Miracles must be wrought if victories are to be won, and to work miracles men’s hearts must…be afire with self-sacrificing love for each other, for their units, for their division, and for their country.  If each man knows that all the officers and men in his division are animated with the same fiery zeal as he himself feels, unquenchable courage and unconquerable determination crush out fear, and death becomes preferable to defeat or dishonor.”[i]

Major General John A. Lejeune, USMC

from The Reminiscences of a Marine

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The true strength of the men and women of our armed forces is their faith in themselves and in others; faith in their skills, their abilities and their resources.  They must have faith and courage to overcome adversity during the chaos of war and the constant struggles of military life.  Faith is the bedrock of teamwork, and General Lejeune’s quote speaks to the power of esprit de corps, and one’s solidarity and devotion to the love of victory over defeat for themselves, their teammates, their unit, and their country.  Therefore, it is one’s faith that becomes their secret weapon, and prayer is the secret battleground where victories are won.[ii]

Faith is confident assurance concerning what we hope for, and conviction about things we do not see.  Through faith we perceive that what is visible came into being through the invisible by faith.

Hebrews 11:1

 

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Footnote:

[i] The Reminiscences of a Marine. Major General John A. Lejeune. Philadelphia, PA: Dorrance and Company, 1930. Chapter Fifteen, Nancy, Marbache, Colombey – Les Belles. p. 307. Hathi Trust Digital Library (http://www.hathitrust.org/). Web. Date Accessed on 10 Feb. 2013. http://hdl.handle.net/2027/mdp.39015008300819

[ii] Prayer Is the Soul’s Sincere Desire – By James Montgomery (1771-1854) – Words written in 1818 at the re­quest of Ed­ward Bick­er­steth, who want­ed them for his book, Trea­tise on Pray­er.  Mont­gom­ery called this “the most at­tract­ive hymn I ev­er wrote.”

Photo Credit:

Lt.Gen. John Archer Lejeune (1867-1942) – Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune website – http://www.lejeune.marines.mil/

 

Related Articles:

Leadership That Is McChrystal Clear

Posted in Leadership with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 15, 2013 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

When a military leader hangs up his combat boots after a long and successful career, I always hope that they plan to share their experiences, wisdom and leadership philosophies in the pages of a book.  It has become commonplace in the last two decades for a military officer who has been successful on the battlefield to write a book about their life in uniform (Schwarzkopf, Franks, Powell).  And, throughout history, we have been fortunate to learn a lot about our greatest, most storied Generals and Admirals (Washington, Grant, Lee, Halsey, Nimitz, Eisenhower, Patton, MacArthur, etc.) through their own writing and words, and those of historians, biographers, authors, and bloggers who have determined that learning and discussing what made these military officers great leaders is valuable knowledge to current and future leaders and scholars.  You can find an assortment of these books on the internet.

General Stanley McChrystal (U.S. Army Retired) has written a memoir entitled, “My Share of the Task,” adding to the list of many great military leaders whose life in uniform has been chronicled.  Stanley McChrystal retired in July 2010 as a four-star General in the U.S. Army.  His last assignment was as the commander of the International Security Assistance Force and as the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.  He had previously served as the direc­tor of the Joint Staff and as the commander of the Joint Special Operations Command.  He is currently a senior fellow at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and the co-founder of the McChrystal Group, a leadership consulting firm.

I have yet to add McChrystal’s book to my bookshelf, so this post is not a review or endorsement of it.  I absolutely intend on grabbing a copy of his book very soon.  Instead, this post is to highlight his leadership philosophy and wisdom that allowed him to climb the ranks of the United States Army to become a Four-Star General.  While most people are focusing more attention on how his career came to an abrupt end following a Rolling Stone article in 2010, I would prefer discussing his leadership.  I think each of us can learn a lot from this warrior, statesman and scholar.

A one-of-a-kind commander with remarkable record of achievement, General Stanley McChrystal is widely praised for creating a revolution in warfare that fused intelligence and operations.  He stresses a uniquely inclusive leadership model focused on building teams capable of relentless pursuit of results. When old systems fall short, McChrystal believes true leaders must look for ways to innovate and change.  From his extraordinary career, McChrystal reveals a four-star management strategy, stressing openness, teamwork, and forward-thinking.

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General McChrystal is the co-founder of the McChrystal Group.  From his time as a commanding general, he revolutionized key leadership principles such as transparency and inclusion; leveraging the power of teams through shared ownership; and sharing a clear vision for winning with an extended team.

He, along with his team at The McChrystal Group, have developed a program called the CrossLead Way.  The principles and operational structure of CrossLead are based on the exceptional military leadership successes of the General and his staff.  The principles of CrossLead are:

1. Trust

Build a foundation of relationships based on trust and teamwork.

2. Understand
Understand the operating environment and your organization while constantly adapting for purpose.

3. Align
Align the team around a clearly defined vision, set of values and an achievable and resilient strategy.

4. Communicate
Force and foster a culture of inclusion, transparency, and accountability through constant communication.

5. Decide
Create shared ownership by decentralizing decision-making and execution to the most effective level.

6. Discipline
Ruthlessly prioritize, maintain a disciplined and sustainable battle rhythm, and focus on what only you can affect.

7. Win
Accomplish your objectives. Succeed constantly by relentlessly assessing and improving performance. Win.

From these principles, the McChrystal Group believes that the collective wisdom of an organization is it’s most valuable resource – that trust, speed and discipline are decisive – that leaders are made and leadership is a choice.  Most importantly, we believe in winning in any environment.

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Since General McChrystal’s retirement, he has shared what he learned about leadership over his decades in the military as a public speaker and lecturer.  His overall leadership premise is how can you build a sense of shared purpose among people of many ages and skill sets?  His answer is by listening and learning — and addressing the possibility of failure.  This blog has featured General McChrystal in the past, but I wanted to again highlight some of the key points General McChrystal emphasizes in his presentations to groups, organizations, companies and students:

1) If your people do everything you taught them to do, and they do those things properly, you led them well. People follow leaders.

2) Leaders can let you fail, and yet not let you be a failure.

3) Leaders build confidence and trust in their people. And, those who you are leading have to have faith and trust in the leader. Leaders have to build faith, trust and confidence.

4) In failure, the leader must reach out to his force and rebuild trust and confidence…rebuilt confidence in the force, rebuilt confidence in the leader, and rebuilt confidence in the seniors of the leader and the force.

5) A leader must build consensus and a sense of shared purpose with his force.

6) How does a leader stay credible and legitimate when they haven’t done what the people their leading are doing? Leaders must become more transparent and a lot more willing to listen.

7) Keep your promises and live up to your obligations; to your subordinates, your peers and your superiors. Be ready to support them when they need you most.

8) A leader isn’t good because he is right. They’re good because their willing to learn, and to trust. If you are a leader, the people you’ve counted on will help you out. And, if you’re a leader, the people who count on you need you on your feet.

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Unfortunately, General McChrystal’s career ended sooner than he or anyone anticipated, but in no way short of victory.  As with any abrupt departure of a high-profile military leader due to controversy, scandal or integrity issues, we should always look at what that person did in their career in total; the quality of the individual, and the successes they achieved.  General McChrystal dedicated 34 years of his life to the United States Army, and his leadership, warrior spirit and patriotism, without question, is what makes him one of the great military leaders of our time.  The military prematurely lost this officer, but the private sector has gained a gem in McChrystal (to use a bit of a pun).  We now become the new benefactors of his teachings, wisdom and philosophy.  Through his new book, we can see inside this man and the principles that have made him successful. , beyond the controversy of the Rolling Stone article back in 2010.  As I said earlier, I intend on purchasing his book, and I think you should too.

Copyright © Dale R. Wilson

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Related Articles -

McChrystal Speaks Out on Rolling Stone Article (foxnews.com)

General Stanley McChrystal: Leadership Lessons from Afghanistan (Forbes.com)

Stan McChrystal: Trading Shadows for Showtime with accompanying video Q & A With General Stanley McChrystal (time.com)

‘I Accept Responsibility’: McChrystal On His ‘Share Of The Task’ (npr.org)

Gen. McChrystal’s Lessons in Leadership (cnbc.com)

[Video] Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal on Leadership (youtube.com)

Sources -

Plywood Leadership: Lessons on Leadership from a Warrior, Statesman and Scholar - Accessed 13 January 2013 – Association for Corporate Growth (ACG Global) - http://www.acg.org/

CrossLead Way - Accessed 13 January 2013 – McChrystal Group - http://www.mcchrystalgroup.com/home

Listen, Learn…Then Lead – Accessed 13 January 2013 – Command Performance Leadership blog – http://commandperformanceleadership.wordpress.com/

Photo Credits -

Book cover and profile picture – The McChrystal Group via http://www.mcchrystalgroup.com/home - Accessed 13 January 2013

Stanley McChrystal: Listen, Learn…Then Lead – http://images.ted.com/images/ted/1e1176d6968f6b244a1962d6231a5410fa7d8ef9_389x292.jpg - Ted.com – Accessed 13 January 2013

The Leader Who Was General H. Norman Schwarzkopf

Posted in Current Affairs, Leadership, Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

We have lost a giant in the ranks of great military leaders throughout history.  General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr., who commanded the U.S.-led international coalition to drive Saddam Hussein’s forces out of Kuwait in 1991, died on Thursday, December 27, in Tampa, Fla., of complications from pneumonia, according to press reports.  This comes as a shock and surprise because this larger than life man seemed to be invincible, never willing to give in to defeat of anything in war, nor in life.  He was a soldier’s general who “embodied the warrior spirit,”[i]

General Schwarzkopf was commissioned a Second Lieutenant after graduating in 1956 from the United States Military Academy at West Point.  He received advanced infantry and airborne training at Fort Benning, Georgia.  He attended the University of Southern California, receiving a Master of Science in mechanical engineering in 1964.  In 1966 he volunteered for Vietnam and served two tours, first as a U.S. adviser to South Vietnamese paratroops and later as a battalion commander in the U.S. Army’s Americal Division.  He earned three Silver Stars for valor — including one for saving troops from a minefield — plus a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart and  three Distinguished Service Medals.[ii]

Of course, General Schwarzkopf’s most notable and celebrated career achievement was when he was Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Central Command.  In 1991, Schwarzkopf commanded Operation Desert Storm, and a coalition force from 34 nations, against Iraq in response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.  It was Schwarzkopf’s blueprint for the defense of the oil fields of the Persian Gulf (against a hypothetical invasion by Iraq), which was the basis for Operation Desert Shield, the defense of Saudi Arabia.[iii]  During the Gulf War, he commanded more than 540,000 U.S. troops and 200,000 allied forces in a six-week war that routed Saddam Hussein’s army from Kuwait.  The sweeping armored movement he employed during the ground campaign is seen as one of the great accomplishments in military history.  The maneuver ended the ground war in only 100 hours.

General Schwarzkopf was a brilliant strategist and inspiring leader.  If there was ever a leader who knew mission accomplishment was about the troops, and not about the leader, it was General Norman Schwarzkopf.

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Brigadier General John C. “Doc” Bahnsen, Jr. once wrote the following about his friend, General Schwarzkopf:

…I have known (Norm Schwarzkopf) for over 45 years, ever since our Plebe year at West Point in 1952.  He was…personable when I first knew him…Norm has charisma that stems from a boyish-like enthusiasm for being a soldier.  His enthusiasm has been his most important professional trait among a number of other extremely important and unique qualities.  Norm loves soldiers and he loves soldiering, and it shows in everything he does and says.  His outgoing personality has made him internationally popular.  His sincerity is genuine.  What you see is what you get.  He has walked the walk of a soldier all his life and he can talk the talk of a soldier based on solid credentials and impressive performance in peacetime as well as in war.

Brilliant intellect and rock solid integrity have been key factors in Norm Schwarzkopf’s development as a charismatic leader.  Being a big man makes him stand out in a crowd, but what makes people remember him is his bright, infectious, enthusiastic conversation.  You remember talking to Norm, you remember him looking directly at you, and you remember his thoughtful and colorful comments.  His sense of humor is well developed [sic] and although he is not overly profane, he can cuss colorfully if the occasion so dictates.[iv]

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The following quotes attributed to General Schwarzkopf are from Leadership Now‘s Leading Blog:

On Leadership Development
You learn far more from negative leadership than from positive leadership. Because you learn how not to do it. And, therefore, you learn how to do it.

On Character
Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy.

On Leadership
Do what is right, not what you think the high headquarters wants or what you think will make you look good.

On Courage
True courage is being afraid, and going ahead and doing your job anyhow, that’s what courage is.

On Knowing Doing
The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it.

On Success
Success is sweet, but the secret is sweat.

Continue reading Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf 1934-2012 via Leadership Now‘s Leading Blog

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GULF WAR Schwarzkopf – The Victory


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There is much more that can be discussed about General Schwarzkopf’s leadership.  This blog intends to continue to study and discuss this remarkable military officer in future posts.  Since General Schwarzkopf’s death last week, much has been written about his leadership, and his influence on the troops, the United States Army and the military he served.  Below, I share a few of these articles and resources with you.  Additionally, I have interspersed a few (much) older articles and resources that you might like to read and view.  I recommend and encourage you read each of them.

Copyright © Dale R. Wilson

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Footnotes -

[i] From a statement made by U.S. Army General Martin E. Dempsey, 18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/GENDempsey) on Friday, December 28, 2012. (accessed Monday, December 31)

[ii] God Speed Stormin’ Norman… - Posted December 27, 2012 – http://www.blackfive.net/main/2012/12/god-speed-stormin-norman.html - Accessed Monday, December 31, 2012 – BLACKFIVE – http://www.blackfive.net/main/ ~ Details of General Schwarzkopf’s service in Vietnam can also be found on Wikipedia at Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr. under the content Service in Vietnam.

[iii] Persian Gulf War – Wikipedia (Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr.) – Last modified on Monday, December 31, 2012 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Schwarzkopf,_Jr.#Persian_Gulf_War - Accessed Monday, December 31, 2012 – Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/

[iv] Leadership: The Warrior’s Art. Christopher D. Kolenda, Barry R. McCaffrey, and Walter F. Ulmer. Carlisle, PA: Army War College Foundation, 2001. Chapter Fourteen, Charisma, by John C. “Doc” Bahnsen. p. 266. Google eBook. Stackpole Books, 2001. Web. Date Accessed on 31 Dec. 2012. http://books.google.com/books?id=F57e_IYaHn8C&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=

Photo Credits -

Schwarzkopf in 1988 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:NormanSchwarzkopf.jpg via Wikipedia Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Schwarzkopf,_Jr.

General Schwarzkopf with the troops – Coaches Hot Seat Bloghttp://coacheshotseat.com/coacheshotseatblog/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/NormanS6.jpg via “Coaches Hot Seat Quote of the Day – Friday, June 3, 2011 – General H. Norman Schwarzkopf”http://coacheshotseat.com/coacheshotseatblog/archives/6089

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HIGHLY RECOMMENDED CONTENT -

A Great Warrior Passes (seanlinnane.blogspot.com)

Statement on behalf of McHugh, Odierno on passing of Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf (army.mil)

Schwarzkopf On Leadership (inc.com)

Norman Schwarzkopf: 10 Quotes on Leadership and War (forbes.com)

[VIDEO] Schwarzkopf on Leadership: 50th Anniversary of D-Day (cultureunplugged.com)

[VIDEO] Schwarzkopf Speech to (West Point) Corps of Cadets 5/91 (Part 1) (Schwarzkopf speech upon his return to West Point shortly after the end of Desert Storm) (youtube.com)

[VIDEO] Schwarzkopf Speech to (West Point) Corps of Cadets 5/91 (Part 2) (Schwarzkopf speech upon his return to West Point shortly after the end of Desert Storm) (youtube.com)

[VIDEO] Schwarzkopf Speech to (West Point) Corps of Cadets 5/91 (Part 3) (Schwarzkopf speech upon his return to West Point shortly after the end of Desert Storm) (youtube.com)

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Related Articles -

Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, coalition forces leader during Persian Gulf War, dies (foxnews.com)

Norman Schwarzkopf Dead: Retired General Dies At 78 (huffingtonpost.com)

Desert Storm commander Norman Schwarzkopf dies (bigstory.ap.org)

Norman Schwarzkopf, U.S. commander in Gulf War, dies at 78 (reuters.com)

Remembering Gulf War Commander Norman Schwarzkopf (pbs.org/newshour)

EDITORIAL: Stormin’ Norman, a general for all times (lehighvalleylive.com/opinion)

Merry Christmas

Posted in Miscellaneous, Video of the Week with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 24, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

As I write this post, Santa has already begun his annual mission to bring joy to children (young and old) around the World.

For many reasons, this is a difficult job for Santa.  Not only is it an overwhelming challenge to deliver presents to all of those on his ‘Nice‘ list in a 24-hour period, but it is also difficult to ensure that all of those who receive the gifts of the season truly feel the Christmas Spirit.  Bringing a Merry Christmas to the entire World may seem insurmountable, but I have faith that Santa will be victorious to ensure that everyone is living in harmony with the Christmas Spirit.

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“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.”

Roy L. Smith[i]

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I want to wish all of my blog and Twitter friends a very Merry Christmas.  May the joy of this season and the Christmas Spirit reach your heart and your home this day, and everyday.  Having friends like you during this special time of year has certainly delivered joy to me.  Merry Christmas to you and your family.  And, as you enjoy the Christmas season, please take a moment to remember our men and women serving our Country around the World, and pray that they may feel the Christmas Spirit also.

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Twas the night before Christmas in Afghanistan[iii-a]

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Military Christmas Poem           (as heard in the video above)

‘Twas The Night Before Christmas,
He Lived All Alone,
In A One Bedroom House
Made Of Plaster And Stone.

I Had Come Down The Chimney
With Presents To Give,
And To See Just Who
In This Home Did Live.

I Looked All About,
A Strange Sight I Did See,
No Tinsel, No Presents,
Not Even A Tree.

No Stocking By Mantle,
Just Boots Filled With Sand,
On The Wall Hung Pictures
Of Far Distant Lands.

With Medals And Badges,
Awards Of All Kinds,
A Sober Thought
Came Through My Mind.

For This House Was Different,
It Was Dark And Dreary,
I Found The Home Of A Soldier,
Once I Could See Clearly.

The Soldier Lay Sleeping,
Silent, Alone,
Curled Up On The Floor
In This One Bedroom Home.

The Face Was So Gentle,
The Room In Such Disorder,
Not How I Pictured
A United States Soldier.

Was This The Hero
Of Whom I’d Just Read?
Curled Up On A Poncho,
The Floor For A Bed?

I Realized The Families
That I Saw This Night,
Owed Their Lives To These Soldiers
Who Were Willing To Fight.

Soon Round The World,
The Children Would Play,
And Grownups Would Celebrate
A Bright Christmas Day.

They All Enjoyed Freedom
Each Month Of The Year,
Because Of The Soldiers,
Like The One Lying Here.

I Couldn’t Help Wonder
How Many Lay Alone,
On A Cold Christmas Eve
In A Land Far From Home.

The Very Thought
Brought A Tear To My Eye,
I Dropped To My Knees
And Started To Cry.

The Soldier Awakened
And I Heard A Rough Voice,
“Santa Don’t Cry,
This Life Is My Choice;

I Fight For Freedom,
I Don’t Ask For More,
My Life Is My God,
My Country, My Corps.”

The Soldier Rolled Over
And Drifted To Sleep,
I Couldn’t Control It,
I Continued To Weep.

I Kept Watch For Hours,
So Silent And Still
And We Both Shivered
From The Cold Night’s Chill.

I Didn’t Want To Leave
On That Cold, Dark, Night,
This Guardian Of Honor
So Willing To Fight.

Then The Soldier Rolled Over,
With A Voice Soft And Pure,
Whispered, “Carry On Santa,
It’s Christmas Day, All Is Secure.”

One Look At My Watch,
And I Knew He Was Right.
“Merry Christmas My Friend,
And To All A Good Night.”

Written by Lance Corporal James M. Schmidt in 1986. Printed in Leatherneck (The Magazines for the Marines) in December 1991, under the title “Merry Christmas, My Friend.”[ii]

Also known as “A Soldier’s Silent Night”[iii-b]

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Related Post -

Merry Christmas (commandperformanceleadership.wordpress.com)

A Soldier’s Christmas | A Different Christmas Poem (billericapolitics.org)

Footnote -

[i] Roy L. Smith. (n.d.). BrainyQuote.com. Retrieved December 24, 2012, from BrainyQuote.com Web site: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/r/roy_l_smith.html
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/citation/quotes/authors/r/roy_l_smith.html#gVohdkFyMKDWeWHj.99

[ii] Military Christmas Poem – Posted by  - About.com / US Military – http://usmilitary.about.com/od/theorderlyroom/a/xmaspoem.htm - Accessed December 24, 2012 – About.com Guide (US Military) – http://usmilitary.about.com/ - About.com Guide – http://www.about.com/

[iii-a,b] The poem spoken in the video is known as “A Soldier’s Silent Night,” written originally by Marine Corps Lance Corporal James M. Schmidt in 1986 (see note to poem within this post, and footnote [ii]).  It is narrated by Father Ted Berndt.  A Soldier’s Silent Nighthttp://www.asoldiersilentnight.com/ - Accessed December 24, 2012

*Another video version of A Soldier’s Silent Night can be found at the post Soldier’s Silent Night on the blog Fellowship of the Minds.

Photo Credit -

Santa - Dave Kenyon and his blog Insights Incites Change, on the post Living in Harmony with The Christmas Spirit; accessed on Monday, December 24, 2012

Soldier -  Fetrow Creations website - http://www.fetrowcreations.com/ - Accessed December 24, 2012

Leadership (further) Defined

Posted in Leadership with tags , , , , , on December 17, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

My last post has inspired dialogue on this blog, other blogs (here, here and here), and on Twitter.  Obviously, the definition of leadership, and the debate over what is the best, or most proper, definition continues.  If you haven’t read my last post, please read it before reading this post.  Here’s the link ==> Leadership Defined.

Once I publish a post, I share it on the various social media platforms I participate, such as on Twitter and in various discussion groups on LinkedIn.  I posted Leadership Defined in the LinkedIn group, Brilliant Manoeuvres[1]: How to Use Military Wisdom to Win Business Battles, which was started by Richard Martin, author of a book by the same name as the group; Richard also has a blog, Exploiting Change, and can be found on twitter @boldleadership.  Soon after I shared my post in that group, it was commented on by Ned Gravel, who is principal at MOTIVA Training, a Canadian company, and was a Major in the Canadian Armed Forces, where he served for 21 years.  What transpired, as a result of his comment, has become the premise of this blog post.  My reply elaborates on the discussion of the definition of leadership, and expands on the post I wrote last week.  It is an important postscript.

Below is Ned’s comment, and my response to his comment.  Once I replied to Ned’s comment, I realized the breadth and value of this discussion he and I had, and the answer I provided Ned according to his opinion.  Here is that conversation:

Ned GravelI am going to have to disagree with you on some of this. I think you may have overextended the definition I, and many of my colleagues who wore a uniform for a living, grew up with. For us, leadership is: “the art of motivating people to achieve a common goal.” Nothing about obedience, or command, or directing thoughts.

It is only about the people and the goal is a common one, sometimes developed commonly, sometimes not, but motivated to be accepted by the entire group.

A common misconception about military leadership is that everyone will simply obey orders and that is that. Orders delivered to motivate team members so that they become the common goal is the focus of good military leadership. Orders delivered to simply direct others is a failure of leadership. If we have kept our team abreast and engaged them in what we are trying to do – the orders issued can already be understood and accepted by the majority of our team members. They can then succeed without our further involvement.

Even beyond this, good leaders do not just create successful teams and followers, they create more successful leaders from within their teams.

I apologise [sic] for the apparent disagreement. Just my 0.02.

Below is a modified version of my response:

Dale R. WilsonNo need to apologize, Ned.  We’re having a discussion to share ideas.  I tried to write my blog post at a basic level to define leadership.  Maybe this reply to your comment can clarify my philosophy.

I agree with what you are saying.  But, my definition is based on intent…that leads to action…to improvise, adapt, overcome…to change tactics, without changing vision; to achieve ultimate victory.

Leadership is taking your vision and intent as a leader, sharing this vision with your team, motivating and inspiring them to execute the plan, and empowering them with the resources to achieve victory.  I’ll direct you back to my blog post for further discussion on this, as I break it down concisely.  But, for this discussion, I am talking about:

1) Getting the team (organization, company, platoon, crew, etc.) to clearly understand the mission (goal, objective, sales target, profit requirement, etc.) ~ the image that the leader has for the outcome.

2) Ensuring the team understands the leader’s intent, and has the exact same vision, while clarifying with them by asking questions and providing feedback to their questions, and verifying that there is a clear understanding of the end state.

Along with this is the ‘buy-in.’  The people have to not only see the intent/vision/desired outcome, but they must see in themselves the absolute ability to accomplish the mission.

3) Provide the team the resources (tools, training, equipment, information, etc.) to ensure they can conduct operations to their fullest effort to achieve nothing less than victory.  Having discussion is important.  But, in the end, the leader’s vision and intent (with modifications to tactics, from the discussion) remains firm and unchanged.

4) To afford each individual the latitude to improvise, adapt, and overcome; to change tactics, without changing vision, according to the situation on the ground (or at sea, or in the air, etc.).

When the terms ‘obedience,’ ‘command,’ or ‘directing thoughts’ are mentioned, they are discussed in the context of having the absolute necessity to conduct actions, tasks, operations (etc.) towards the goal/objective, without argument, dissention, or modification to the goal.  People cannot change the desired outcome, as it is a fixed ‘destination’ determined by the higher echelon leadership (board of directors, CEO, CFO, CinC, Commanding Officer, Brigade Commander, etc.).  However, when I mention ‘without argument,’ previously, I don’t mean that a discussion shouldn’t be conducted to ask questions, clarify information or offer alternative tactics (or strategy).  Having such discussion is NOT disobedience.  And, ‘directing thought’ is simply ‘selling’ the vision/intent that drives to the shared goal and objective.

I agree with your assessment about the misconceptions about military leadership.  If a leader is simply going to say, ‘this is what I want to see happen…no questions…no discussion…,’ then that is poor leadership, indeed.  As you say, “…orders to simply direct others is a failure of leadership.”

It is because of those misconceptions that drives to the very reason why I write about the topic on my blog (and on Twitter).  My purpose is to write about the subject of military leadership in an effort to change those misconceptions that exist in the minds of those who do not understand the true synergies between military and corporate (private-sector) leadership.

I appreciate your feedback on this.  It is important to share these ideas to provide us the opportunity to dig deeper into the subject.  It is constructive and educational.  In fact, in writing this response, I found it quite instructive and fulfilling.

I want to invite you to read three blog posts I have written that relate directly to our discussion here.  Please read the following:

Leading the Charge: Leadership Lessons from the Battlefield to the Boardroom (no need to watch the video…I’ve broken it down on the post)

Decision-Making in the New ‘Leadership Organization’

Improvise, Adapt and Overcome ~ Changing Plans, But Not Changing Vision

Employee Empowerment in the Decision-Making Process

Leadership is a very popular subject, and discussions like this happen quite frequently in LinkedIn groups, on Twitter, and elsewhere on the internet.  Having these discussions, and engaging in conversation with people about leadership, is quite constructive (and instructive), and can help to broaden your knowledge and ability to become a much better, more effective leader.  I encourage you to find a discussion and join in.  Everyone will benefit from your contribution.

I wanted to use this opportunity to thank Ned for having this conversation with me, and his gracious approval to allow me to use our conversation on LinkedIn as a lab excercise on my blog.  I hope that you found value in having this dialogue with me.

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“Leadership is understanding people and involving them to help you do a job.”

Admiral Arleigh Burke

(TWEET THIS quote)

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Soon after I posted Leadership Defined, I posted the following Tweet, which sums it all up nicely.  Within this Tweet, click on the link to a related Tweet, to keep it in context:

Copyright © Dale R. Wilson

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Related Articles -

Modern Leadership (brassbugles.wordpress.com)

What Is Leadership? (landauleadership.com)

How Do You Rate Yourself? (leadershipquote.org)

What Leadership is Not (stevekeating.me)

Footnote -

[1] ‘Manoeuvre‘ is the French spelling for the word maneuver (US).  It is sometimes considered misspelling.  Because the LinkedIn group was started by someone in Canada, the French version (spelling) of the word is appropriate.

Leadership Defined

Posted in Leadership with tags , , , , , , , on December 11, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

Leadership has been defined as the art, science, or gift by which a person is enabled and privileged to direct the thoughts, plans, and actions of others in such a manner as to obtain and command their obedience, their confidence, their respect, and their loyal cooperation.  Simply stated, leadership is the art of accomplishing [a] mission through people.[i]  Another definition is the process of influencing people by providing purpose, direction, and motivation while operating to accomplish the mission and improving the organization.[ii]  To accomplish this, the leader employs the principles of leadership, core values and the qualities that lead to success.[iii]  Within these two definitions are three basic elements of leadership; to lead, to develop, to achieve.  I discuss these three rudimentary cornerstones (and competencies) of leadership in-depth in one of my previous posts, BookLink: Army Leadership (Lead ~ Develop ~ Achieve) {Book 1, Wk. 2}.

There are many definitions of leadership.  Many articles and books have been written on the topic of leadership, and there are many people, like myself, writing about the topic of leadership everyday on blogs and on Twitter.  In nearly all of what you will find written or discussed, and what is most important to understand, is that leadership is not about the leader; it’s about the people who are being led.  The people are the commodity that are at the heart and soul of everything the leader and the organization are seeking to accomplish.  Therefore, the people become the biggest part of the definition of leadership, as it is their behavior, motivation, training, skills and knowledge that play an integral role in the success and victory of the organization.

This morning, I tweeted my definition of leadership.  Below, I have embedded an active link of that Tweet for you.  If you think the Tweet below has true value to you, and to your Twitter followers, please retweet it.  Simply click on the Tweet below as you would a Tweet on Twitter to reply, retweet or favorite it:

Again, it is very basic and elementary.  But it covers all of the core elements: To lead…taking your vision for the future, and declaring your intentions, goals and objectives…to develop…mentoring, training, inspiring, motivating, informing, equipping, (etc.) the people of the organization with the knowledge and tools…to achieve…the desired outcome, objective and/or goal, ultimately accomplishing the mission, and gaining victory.

Any basic definition of leadership, including my tweet, can be seen as a loaded statement; quite honestly, it is a loaded statement.  It is loaded with much more meaning than the words say on the surface, and has more meanings than you first may think.  Leadership is such a vast subject, and goes far beyond what has been discussed here.  But, at its basic level, it’s not more complicated than this.

I can go further with discussion about the definition of leadership.  But, that is the reason for this blog; to dissect and discuss leadership in great detail.  I would like to know what your definition of leadership is.  What do you see as the important aspects of leadership that go to its basic definition?  Let me know what you think by commenting below.  And, again, please retweet my Tweet if you think it has true value to you, and to your Twitter followers.

Don’t forget to comment on this blog post.  And, please follow me on Twitter; follow @5StarLeadership.

**A follow-up post to this one has been published.  Please proceed to Leadership (further) Defined.

Copyright © Dale R. Wilson

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Footnotes -

[i] Montor, Karel, Anthony J. Ciotti, and Malcolm E. Wolfe. Fundamentals of Naval Leadership. The Department of Leadership and Law, U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute, 1984. page 1. (The definition of leadership is adapted from Naval Leadership, U.S. Naval Institute, Annapolis, MD, 1939, page 1, and Frederick Ellsworth Wolf, A.M., Leadership in the New Age, U.S. Naval Institute, Annapolis, MD, 1946, page 3)

[ii] Army Leadership – Competent, Confident, and Agile {FM 6-22} (formerly FM 22-100) – Headquarters, Department of the Army – 12 October 2006 – Page 1-2 – Web – http://usacac.army.mil/CAC2/repository/materials/FM6_22.pdf - Accessed 11 December 2012 – United States Army Combined Arms Center, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas – http://usacac.army.mil/CAC2/index.asp and/or Army Leadership {ADP 6-22} – Headquarters, Department of the Army – 1 August 2012 – Page 1 – Web – http://armypubs.army.mil/doctrine/DR_pubs/dr_a/pdf/adp6_22_new.pdf - Accessed 11 December 2012 – Official Department of the Army Publications and Forms – http://armypubs.army.mil/ via this link: http://usacac.army.mil/cac2/cgsc/events/adp622/index.asp

[iii] Fundamentals of Naval Leadership – By Dale R. Wilson – Posted February 7, 2012 – http://commandperformanceleadership.wordpress.com/2012/02/07/fundamentals-of-naval-leadership/ - Accessed December 11, 2012 – Command Performance Leadership – http://commandperformanceleadership.wordpress.com/

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