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Leadership Effects (A Guest Blog Post from the Front Lines)

Posted in Army Leadership, BookLink, Leadership with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

A Comment in Response to BookLink ~ The U.S. Army Leadership Field Manual

The Command Performance Leadership blog has enjoyed some early success in its less than three months of existence, with weekly readership growing and the number of followers gradually increasing. Of those who have frequently visited my blog, I have been quite fortunate to attract many members of militaries from around the World, at different levels of leadership; non-commissioned officers (NCO’s) and commissioned officers. Having a military readership and followership is important to me, as I want military members to provide their input, through blog post comments, to gain from their knowledge and experience, and to add value to this blog. Who better to provide insight on military leadership fundamentals and wisdom than those who are leading in our military. As you’ve seen, a few comments from military members have influenced the discussions here, and have inspired new content and articles. I hope that continues.

A few weeks ago, I introduced BookLink, a feature that provides this blog’s readers the opportunity to have direct and complete access to military-oriented leadership books, pamphlets, field manuals, and other resources of information. The first book I am featuring is the U.S. Army Leadership Field Manual, which we began reading on January 16. For the four weeks that follow, sections of the book are being read and discussed in weekly blog posts.

Last Thursday, I received a comment about this Army field manual from David Hickman, a U.S. Army NCO. In his comment post, he shared a comprehensive story about leadership in the Army, in his opinion. I replied to David, and started a dialogue with him about his comment. He informed me that his comment was actually an article he was attempting to get in front of a few military magazines to take interest in. Unfortunately, no military periodical has taken interest in his article. David explained that the article was written in response to his Company Commander asking him and his fellow NCO’s to define leadership and what it meant to them. He thought that leadership deserved more discussion than just a ‘definition,’ and that leadership is nothing unless we act upon it. David informs me that this article is the framework for a book he is interested in writing.

I told David that his article deserves to be read, and I offered the article to be posted here at Command Performance Leadership as a guest post. He accepted my offer. I have made slight modifications to the original article to correct any grammar, spelling and punctuation, but have not altered its content or changed any words. I have also added some approprate and related pictures.

I want to thank David for his cooperation in sharing this article, and the journalistic support he has provided to me. I am pleased to introduce you to Staff Sergeant David A. Hickman and his book excerpt, “Leadership Effects.

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Author’s Biography –US Army E-6 Staff Sergeant (SSG)

Staff Sergeant (SSG) David A. Hickman is currently assigned as an instructor with Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 11th Infantry Regiment (IBOLC), 199th Infantry Brigade, Fort Benning Georgia. From the start of his tenure in the Army to present, SSG Hickman has served with the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT), 25th Infantry Division, the 172nd SBCT Fort Wainwright, the US Army Recruiting Command, the 25 Infantry Division (L) Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, and with the 7th Light Infantry Division (Cohort), Fort Ord, California prior to a break in military service. He deployed with the 1st SBCT, 25th Infantry Division to Baqubah, Iraq from 2008 to 2009, with the 172nd SBCT to Mosul, Iraq from 2005 to 2006 and Baghdad 2006, and the 25th Infantry Division (L) with the Multi-National Forces and Observers (MFO) to Sinai, Egypt in 2000. He has served as an Instructor, Platoon Sergeant, Weapons Squad Leader, and Team Leader.

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Preface to the Article –

I had some reservations about publishing this paper that I wrote last year for concern that others would think ill of me or that it was an attempt to curry favor. At some point in life you will be confronted with a choice: simply speak your mind regardless of what others may think of you [, or to say nothing at all]. A few military magazines looked it over. It’s my take on leadership from those who were with me state side and Iraq.

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LEADERSHIP EFFECTS ~ January 2011

Singular perspective in the mind of any leader will lead him to fail. If uncorrected, it will pass to the others around him and the organization will follow. 

Leadership has been defined in a number of ways, but the end result should always be to the benefit of one another, our Soldiers, our military, and our country. Leadership as defined by the Army, uses phrases such as “influencing others” and “providing purpose, direction and motivation.”[i]

This is still true, but the focus of a leader should be on the effects of his or her leadership. Further, if leaders do not grasp the “human aspect” of leading, how can the organization improve? A number of us may overlook the cause and effect of leadership or the lack thereof. Poor leadership or leadership “in part” will not result in just failure alone when the cost paid for the lack of leadership may be another human life.

Leaders at every level should agree that there are two elements that make up any mission-oriented organization, those who follow during mission execution and the select few who lead them. Both are required to achieve any task that places the organization in a tactical advantage over another or to restore security. Failure by either will leave the unit with an incomplete task and lack of sufficient support to accomplish it to the fullest benefit of the organization.

ArmyStrongFrom our perspective, the odds will not be in favor of those left to deal with the failure of any leader or subordinate. Most of the failures of subordinates can be traced to their leaders. However, after a leader has implemented every measure of instruction and attention that can be given, a subordinate may still make the wrong choice. He or she is, in fact, just as human as their leaders, and that Soldiers’ free will may not always sway to do what is right. Regardless of the origin of the fault, we as leaders accept responsibility for what our subordinates do right and wrong. This approach to leading helps leaders to focus even further on their subordinates. The Army is the one institution in which the leader accepts the fault for what their subordinates fail to do. There is no blame. With regard to ethical decisions, there may be an unseen flaw within the subordinate’s moral judgment and character. As leaders, we spend time guiding subordinates both during training and after hours with regard to their personal actions and choices. We remind them that poor choices can lead to adverse actions which will be detrimental to their privileges and rank. How often do we convey to our subordinates the “effects” that their actions can have on others in the organization? How can we as leaders become more efficient in identifying the start of potential issues if the leader is not involved in the personal lives of their subordinates?

Rank has never been a requirement to lead. Rank never compels a Soldier to push himself beyond the limitations of his mind. Determined young Specialists can take charge and lead if they have been under sound leaders during the first part of their tenure in the military. Many of us have seen this. Rank is needed, but it is nothing more than a visual hierarchy that displays a level of authority that an individual leader has been entrusted with, not entitled to, for his or her position of duty. It is visible within the organization at every level. Our character must be balanced with regard to the rank that we hold and the rank that we advance to. At one end of the extreme, if we are not balanced in character, we run the risk of abusing our authority. Worse yet, at the other end, we fail to provide for our subordinates in training or human needs.

Human needs go beyond those that are required to survive in the physical body. All leaders should have learned this as they advanced up through their respective positions of authority, or so we think. Avoiding the mistake of promoting individuals with poor character or weak leadership ability is perhaps the one fact that causes leaders to have reservations about a Soldier being promoted to the rank of Sergeant based on time in service alone. Serious consideration needs to be taken when selecting subordinates for promotions. If we receive a leader who was promoted in this manner, all we can do is take what is there and make it better. In so doing, there are two points that leaders need to keep in mind when assessing incoming leaders who will either be our subordinates leaders, peers and Senior Leaders. First, the leader has no insight as to the methods of their training and mentorship. Poor leaders create more poor leaders, and bad habits carry from one to another. Every leader has faults and may fall short in some aspect of his duties, but it’s the leaders who choose to address these issues who become leaders of genuine character and look beyond “self” seeking to improve. Second, even if a leader has been instructed in the requirements of basic human needs, it is still not evidence that this leader is in practice of executing the correct actions of leadership. 

The leader development process for subordinate leaders and Soldiers is not to be taken with a “half-hearted” approach. One Army perspective states: “During this leader development process, the responsibility for a leader’s complete development is mutually shared by the leaders of the Army Education System, Commanders, and Leaders in the field, and the leaders themselves.”[ii]

Instructors in the Army Education System are in place to develop “line leaders” to better the organization. One unavoidable fact is that instructors are only with their respective student leaders for the duration of the developmental course. Course curriculum “highlights” the “job aspect” of their responsibilities and many leaders end up getting pushed through the course, keeping to the weekly schedule so long as all attendees receive passing scores on their exams. Instructors cannot fully evaluate leaders with regard to their ability to grasp and understand the “human considerations” in leading and developing their subordinate leaders and subordinates. Leaders on the line spend a good deal of their time involved daily with their Soldiers, but if the line leaders did not have the proper mentorship during their development, they will not be “in tune” with the human side of subordinate development. Many leaders in the Infantry often face the “taboo” designation as being a “Joe Lover” when other leaders witness the care for the well-being of subordinates. I agree that there needs to be a balance, but all leaders need to be attentive to the emotional and other human needs of their Soldiers. Neglect or failure to provide opportunity to resolve issues affecting emotional needs will allow doubt to enter the minds of subordinates causing instability in their emotional well-being. Issues left undone will foster an unfocused mind during the execution of missions. A subordinate who is not focused on the mission will prove to be detrimental to himself and those around him, which can result in the loss of life. The efforts of an unfocused Soldier provide nothing more than a void in security. He or she is of no use to the organization in their present state.

Leadership has focused mostly on compelling our subordinates to execute missions that affect those within the organization at every level as well as the host nation in which the organization operates. This is still both true and necessary for achieving the mission as set forth by the intent of any Commander. With regard to our history of leadership, mission accomplishment was a top priority regardless of the effects in human costs and subordinate needs. Today we recognize that care for the human side of our Soldiers is a fundamental requirement for the operation of a successful organization. It should never be to a point where subordinates become soft or fall short in standards, but there needs to be a balance between the two. Mission accomplishment is still top priority, but we cannot ignore the human side.

On today’s front, leadership often involves directing and continually encouraging subordinates to execute tasks that would normally be against any human will if given a choice because it places them in danger. For this reason, Soldiers and Leaders need to understand that being a Soldier is not just a “job” and should never be considered just a career. In truth, it is a profession that requires a great deal of personal conviction. We chose our profession and we also chose to lead well, in part or not at all. Whatever measure of effort we put into our leadership, it will be visible through our actions and the performance of our subordinates. Leading Soldiers will always have results and consequences. Choices in leadership will always have effects. Good or bad.

How do we accomplish the task of leading subordinates in the execution of missions that could result in the loss of life? Further, how can we grasp the reality of both our will and that of our Soldiers to strive for mission success during which it’s execution we’re acutely aware that it could be our lives that are lost? We as leaders must also be prepared to both witness and deal with the loss of those that we serve with as leaders and those with whom we lead. We’ll also deal with the emotional effects of our remaining subordinates that will be brought on by the death of a peer. I want to pose two questions for thought and a genuine inward reflection for all of us as leaders. This is the only time that “self” needs to come first; when assessing one’s character as a leader. What if that loss of life was due to the failure on our part to lead effectively? Do you really think Soldiers will be unaware of our part in this failure? This is reason for absolute personal conviction within every Soldier.  Most especially those in the ranks of the Infantry and Combat Arms, but all Soldiers facing adversity and genuine risk of death fit this category.

With regard to personal conviction, if Soldiers and Leaders do not have within themselves a sense of duty and belonging to each other, their unit and Nation, they do not possess genuine personal conviction. Conviction and belief in the preservation of the well-being of our subordinates and one another are the traits of selfless service. These traits are present within the character of only a few. Most new Soldiers use the military as a “test bed” for figuring out their lives and what they want. Leaders have the responsibility to instruct their Soldiers on the importance of selfless service. Further, while it’s ok for them to figure out their lives in the Army, leaders must help them grasp the reality that the effects of their choices have much more “gravity” when the organization as a whole must deal with the outcome. All Soldiers must understand that our purpose is greater than ourselves and we must implement sound judgment in every decision that we make both on and off duty. This personal conviction motivates these Soldiers and Leaders to give of themselves. When Soldiers see their peers wounded and regrettably at times their death, it will cause them to appeal in action on behalf of those around them that have fallen. The decision to step forward and take this action is the ultimate form of selfless service. This kind of selfless service happens often within our ranks. Our appreciation to one another for such actions is evident, but seen only by those who endured with us.

In one previous unit, our Battalion Commander made it clear that there must be a complete “buy in” in the unit mission and the Commander’s intent for that unit to succeed. Perhaps this instruction came from higher. I agree if the cause is just and there is no violation of moral character or ethics during mission execution. This applies to both tasks within the organization or any act carried out among the populous of the host country. In the countries we operate, there will be those of a mindset that follow extremist beliefs that justify the deaths of their own people. This will make it difficult for Soldiers to execute a Commander’s intent without individuals of this mind-set feeling as if the Americans are violating their morals and ethics. Their beliefs are not only contrary to good civil order, but also the entitlement of every human being to dwell peacefully. Our efforts are generally an “effect” of good leadership during the execution of operations that preserve the human entitlement of peace. Peace that at times cannot exist without selfless service and sacrifice for those who are unaware what is given for them. It is a basic human need. When viewed from the perspective of humanity, freedom can no longer be restricted within the boundaries of our country.

Each and every one of us should reflect inward and ask ourselves, “Am I here just for a career or just to be a Soldier and Leader?” If the answer is “just a career” you have no purpose within the ranks of the Infantry or any branch of the Military service. If a Leader or Soldier is only interested in a career alone or the pay, their first thought will be for “self” rather than “others”. During training and actual missions, the benefit of others and the organization will not be first in their minds. If leaders think this way, what will be the outcome of their decisions? Soldiers and Leaders of this character will never be willing to give of themselves or only give enough if there is some personal gain to be attained. Such gains could be the possibility for advancement in rank or to produce a “false perception” of one’s character in an effort to look good in the presence of superiors and not living sound leadership daily.

True leadership serves a higher purpose and benefits those above and below us. Leaders focused on “self” do not see the results of the implementation of good leadership. The end-state is the efficient execution of any task. Tasks or missions executed more efficiently will result in less chance of fratricide and the unintentional killing or wounding of civilians. All of which will affect the organization at every level. Genuine leadership is often thankless and any leader not driven by a “career” must understand that the best leadership often goes unseen, even by those that they lead. Subordinates are usually unaware of the sacrifices that leaders make on their behalf. Sacrifice of time, sleep or food. The list can go on. I am comfortable with this, because the daily tasks that need to be carried out are done so efficiently. This creates an environment with less stress. The “machine” runs smoothly. An atmosphere with less stress on subordinates keeps their minds clear and focused when it comes time to execute missions that have a high level of stress and personal threat. The same holds true for tending to the needs of Soldiers with regard to spiritual and emotional needs. For this reason, it’s necessary for leaders to be involved in the lives of their subordinates. Even simply stopping by the barracks during the week-end for a brief check on their Soldiers is important. At the time the subordinate may feel as if their leader is intruding, but usually it is appreciated even if the subordinate never expresses it. Caring for the well-being of subordinates does not stop after the unit gets back from the field, refit is complete, and everyone is on their way after the safety brief. A subordinate’s problems become the problems of their leaders all the way up through the Chain of Command and NCO Support Channel. Don’t ignore it or expect that the Soldier knows how to best deal with the issue. When deployed, if a subordinate learns that they have lost their spouse either to death or even if it’s a fidelity issue, their mind will not be clear during missions. It would be wise to leave this Soldier off of a few patrols in conjunction with seeing the Chaplin and other elements within the military that are present to help service men and women deal with problems.

Leadership is never executed for the recognition of “self” by higher leaders. Leadership is any action on my part to train and move my subordinates, conveying to them that this action must be executed for a greater good that affects their lives as well as others. It is more important than ourselves, and requires our genuine attention if it is to be successful. If we fail those who follow us may fail, leaving the task undone. Every action we perform and every decision we make as leaders will have an effect on someone. This is why knowing the “definition” of leadership is not leadership. Our actions, decisions and our example are what “cause” the desired “effects” needed for a successful organization.

Our country was founded on an unwavering belief in God and self-sacrifice for the whole rather than “self”. Our history reflects that we have a great nation, so I am inclined to believe that their belief in God and selfless actions were just. Regardless of belief in faith, race or ethnicity, leadership is required to succeed. Human needs are the same for all. Self-sacrifice will be demanded of any nation that expects to prosper and preserve the freedoms of its populace or the freedom of other nations who cannot stand for themselves against an oppressor that deprives them of such basic human entitlements. Leaders should never forget that even though his or her selfless service goes unseen, there is always someone looking for our faults as leaders. It will either be someone who only has the intention to point out our faults simply to correct and develop us or it very well may be a leader who is focused on “self” and looks for fault only for the gratification of holding their authority over you. Regardless of which, if we maintain our character and hold ourselves responsible for our duties, they will find very little to point out. But, this requires genuine leadership, daily selfless actions and the ability to look inwardly at our own character. When there is fault, do not let pride prevent the correction of your actions and character. If we are not cautious, we as leaders can become more concerned about how we look with regard to our Officer Evaluation Reports (OER) and Non-Commissioned Officer Evaluation Reports (NCOER) rather than taking care of our subordinates and the greater good of the organization. If we do not conduct an occasional “self-check”, a leader can develop a “power trip” or an attitude of “self” rather than executing good leadership. Subordinate leaders and Soldiers will see through it as well. This is often seen in a few newly promoted leaders advancing to a higher level of responsibility. Leaders should always be humble enough to remind themselves that the Army is still a “human organization”.

That being said, we as leaders can make mistakes. We must never let anything prevent us from addressing our short comings. We all must understand that no matter how high in the Chain of Command or NCO Support Channel we advance to, we can still learn more, improve and develop ourselves. The truth is never tasteful when it is not in our favor. One simple example is choosing the “easy wrong” over the “hard right” or being guilty of choosing “self” over the benefit of those around us. It happens more than we may think. It is still a truth that will eventually be seen, revealing our intent. We need to correct whatever prevents the truth from being in our favor. The majority of Leaders are of genuine character, but being human it’s always good to check our own character, giving our “moral compass” a quick shake to be certain that we’re on the right path regarding our leadership and that “self” comes last. The Seven Army Values are a good corner-stone if we as Soldiers and Leaders practice the values rather than just committing them to memory. If all Soldiers and Leaders choose to serve others rather than “self”, the organization as a whole will be in good care. The choice of “self” will never need to be addressed because your peers and leaders will see to your well-being and you theirs.

SSG David Allen Hickman
C CO, 2nd BN, 11th IN RGT


[i] Army Leadership: Competent, Confident, and Agile.” Washington, DC: Headquarters, Department of the Army. 2006. Print. p. 1-2.

 [ii] “Leader Development for America’s Army – Pamphlet 350-58” – 13 October 1994 – Page 5 (and see Figure 3, page 6) – http://www.apd.army.mil/pdffiles/p350_58.pdf – Accessed 13 February 2012 – Army Publishing Directorate (APD) – http://www.apd.army.mil/

Fundamentals of Naval Leadership

Posted in Books, Naval Leadership, Reading Room with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 7, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

by Department of Leadership and law, U S. Naval Academy ~ Karel Montor

The Navy defines leadership 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 the Navy’s mission through people.[i]  To accomplish this, the Navy leader employs the principles of leadership, core values and the qualities that lead to success.  A Midshipman at the United States Naval Academy, a student participating in an ROTC program, or an individual going through Officer Candidate School (OCS) are introduced to the fundamental leadership skills necessary to become a successful Naval and Marine Corps officer.

“Fundamentals of Naval Leadership” is a Naval Academy text book, and is the companion piece to “Naval Leadership: Voices of Experience – Second Edition.”  In essence, the book builds from the discussion of the concepts of leadership; human behavior, motivating people (and ourselves), conflict resolution, evaluating performance, the structure and function of groups.  In the second half of the book, it transitions into discussion of the dynamic qualities of leadership that are required to be successful; moral leadership, leading by example, and virtues & traits.  It finishes with the topics of personal relations with people, counseling & interviewing, discipline, training, and organization & administration.  Of course, as a military academy text book, it covers aspects of being a Naval (or Marine Corps) Officer in the greatest Navy in the World; rights, responsibilities, code of conduct, traditions & customs, etc.  The parallel to managing and leading in the business world are obvious, and it is easy to interchange military and branch-specific references to themes, situations and experiences in a civilian corporate environment.  At the end of the text book, there are case studies, again geared toward leading in the Navy.  The situations and scenarios are comparable to day-to-day experiences to any manager in any field of expertise.  The book goes back to basics, and presents the many aspects of leadership at almost an introductory level – approaches to and styles of leadership, examples of effective leadership, the psychology of leadership, and the factors and traits of the effective leader – to teach its readers to become more effective leaders.[ii]

The Naval tradition places special emphasis on the development of leadership ability. This emphasis is found with regard to both institutional efforts and individual efforts. Elaborating on the responsibility of naval officers to develop leadership skills,[iii] Admiral William V. Pratt (Chief of Naval Operations – 1930 to 1933) said, “The greatest problem facing the career naval officer is leadership.  Yet this most important factor in a man’s life frequently is allowed to grow like a flower in a garden surrounded by rank weeds.  So many feel that if they follow the average course of naval life, experience will finally give them the qualities of the great leader, and opportunity may reward them with high command.  Few realize that the growth to sound leadership is a life’s work.  Ambition alone will not encompass it, and if ambition alone be a man’s sole qualification, he is indeed a sorry reed to lean upon in time of stress.  The path of qualification for leadership is a long, hard road to travel.  It is a path of life.  It envisages all of a man’s character, his thoughts, aims, and conduct of life.  It requires the wisdom and judgment of the statesman, the keen perception of the strategist and tactician, the executive ability of the seaman; but above all, it requires sterling worth of character and great human understanding and sympathy.[iv]

In his Forward to the second edition of Naval Leadership, Admiral Arleigh Burke (Chief of Naval Operations – 1955 to 1961) wrote, “No matter what mark an officer may leave in history by his deeds in battle, or in intellectual contributions, or in material inventions, his greatest legacy to his country will be the example he has given as a man and as a leader of men.”[v]
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United States Naval Academy page banner

The Naval Academy has a unique clarity of purpose, expressed in their mission:

“To develop Midshipmen morally, mentally and physically and to imbue them with the highest ideals of duty, honor and loyalty in order to graduate leaders who are dedicated to a career of naval service and have potential for future development in mind and character to assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship and government.”[vi]

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This was one of the books I listed in last week’s “The Development of a Reading Program,” and is the second book I will read from my 2012 reading list.  I encourage you to go online to order a copy for yourself and add it to your library.  If you are interested in learning more about this book, and would like to acquire it, please visit this link at Amazon.com.
 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] ibid.

[iii] Al-Harbi, Toraiheeb. Navy Definitions of Leadership and LMET/NAVLEAD Competency Clusters Compared to Selected Leadership Theories. Thesis. Naval Postgraduate School, 1995. http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA306113 – Accessed 7 February 2012.  The Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC®) – http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/

[iv] 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 77. (from Selected Readings in Leadership, U.S. Naval Institute, Annapolis, MD, 1957, page 1)

[v] ibid. page xviii. (from the Forward to the second edition of Naval Leadership, the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD, 1959)

[vi] Mission of USNA –  http://www.usna.edu/mission.htm – Accessed 7 February 2012 – United States Naval Academy | Home Page – http://www.usna.edu/

Authoritarian Leadership vs. Democratic Leadership ~ The Officer Corps Explained

Posted in Leadership, Toxic Leadership with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 2, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

a.k.a. Autocratic Leadership vs. Participative Leadership

I recently came across a post called “The Officer Corps Explained.” In this post, the author features a series of cartoon screens that depict a Roman military officer having a conversation with what is portrayed as a younger, lower rank soldier. In the cartoon, the officer and the soldier have a conversation that becomes a debate about authoritarian (or autocratic) leadership vs. democratic (or participative) leadership.  In order to understand the context of what I’m about to discuss, I encourage you to visit the blog post “The Officer Corps Explained” before continuing with this post.

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Obviously, the cartoon is a satirical view of officership in the military, and military leadership in general. But, there are a few things that should be highlighted from their conversation. I’m not going to dissect this frame-by-frame or word-for-word, and I don’t want to insult your intelligence by defining what you’ve already read and figured out. But I do want to discuss some important parts of it.

First, there is a certain level of respect to be rendered to a commissioned officer, usually in the form of a salute and/or courteous greeting; even before true trust and respect are earned by that officer. And, that is illustrated by the soldier when he said that respect is earned, especially if he didn’t know the officer. But, at the same time, an officer should not demand such respect. In this example, however, there is a military protocol where there should be a customary rendering of respect by the junior soldier; in this case, a salute.

Second, it is obvious that the person posting this cartoon is attempting to express his opinion of how the social status of an officer within a military establishment is harsh and totalitarian. It is quite possible that he has experienced this first-hand in his life as a member of the military. It may not be a true depiction of his experiences, but it seems he has observed or experienced a military officer who was autocratic, domineering and/or rude. But, if we cut through the cynicism and sarcasm, you can obviously see the point of his post. Unfortunately, if it is true that he has seen, or experienced, this type of officer, that is a shame; especially if the officer threatened him with certain punishments for failure to obey or conform. Don’t get me wrong, we have to follow orders, but we must do the right things, for the right reasons, at the right times.

Unfortunately, this cartoon’s portrayal, to some extent, remains a factor in today’s military among those who lead and those who follow. There are a few ego-driven officers and NCO’s (non-commissioned officers) who think they can bully their way, through fear and intimidation, to better performance of their team. Power, titles and rank seem to be more important to a few officers than taking care of their troops and earning their trust; it gets to their heads. So, I won’t sit here and deny that there are leaders like this in the military. Autocratic leadership had been the standard in the military. But, the military has realized, gradually over the last couple of decades, that kind of leadership style is somewhat archaic. It is becoming less top-down and hierarchical leadership structure. As a result, the number of officers and NCO’s who practice an autocratic leadership style is diminishing.

At one point in the conversation between the soldier and the officer, the soldier asks him, “what if you’re wrong about something? Can I question you then?” The officer’s reply is, “only if I let you, and only if you do it like you’re tiptoeing on egg shells.” As I stated on this blog in a recent post, the military is moving more toward the type of leadership organization where it invites participatory involvement in decision-making; where people at every level, from the sides and the bottom, have a voice and a view, and are permitted and encouraged to provide feedback. In the private sector, more leadership organizations will find that transforming to a more ‘democratic’ leadership style, where everyone is a leader, everyone has a voice, and leadership at every level produces better, timely and more successful results.

I resent the notion that many (or most) military leaders conduct themselves in this fashion. Too often, military leaders are painted with a broad brush as tyrannical and authoritarian. Maybe we can thank Hollywood:

Of course, this is boot camp, and those of us who lived the 8 to 13 weeks of Hell at basic training can relate to this, and know that the real military is nothing like it. But, my point of using this video was to illustrate Sergeant Harman’s tyrannical, authoritarian leadership style. He is your typical drill instructor portrayed by Hollywood, and much of what you see in that Full Metal Jacket clip can no longer be done or said in today’s military boot camp; no, not even the Marine Corps. Boot camp, as well as military academies, have become more instructional. An example is at The United States Military Academy at West Point’s R-day (receiving day), the first day of Beast Barracks, where new Cadets (Plebes) are to report to the ‘Cadet in the Red Sash.’ Watch the following video to see the contrast in instruction and interaction between these Cadets, from what you saw with Sergeant Harman.

You can see that the ‘Cadet in the Red Sash’ is giving orders and instructions in a much different tone of voice than Sergeant Harmon. The senior Cadet tells the Plebe what he expects, instructs him how to accomplish the task, and observes his actions. For example, as soon as the new Cadet does not salute properly, the instructor quickly corrects the Plebe in a mentoring fashion, and teaches the Plebe a more proper way of saluting. It may seem insignificant or trivial about how to properly salute, but what is really happening here is the senior Cadet is teaching the Plebe, while establishing trust and credibility. He is not yelling at him; he is not in his face. He is not coming across as the boss, with a “you better listen to me” attitude. He is practicing a more democratic/participative style of leadership, although the Plebe doesn’t have much input in the decisions that are made, nor the way tasks are to be completed. The tone is more professional and tactful, and the senior Cadet is able to get more out of his subordinate. The senior Cadet is quickly establishing the required level of respect and trust necessary to successfully lead his followers. Let’s look at a similar example from the Naval Academy’s I-Day (Induction Day):

What is important, above all else, in these examples is for the Plebes to pay attention to detail and complete the task properly and completely. You can see in this video that the Plebes were not completely following instruction. The senior Midshipmen patiently instructed them until they mastered the task. The Plebes continued to work on getting it right until their senior instructor was satisfied. The group of Plebes worked as a team, and so did the senior Midshipmen in the way they instructed.

Then you have Colonel Nathan R. Jessep, fictitious officer in the United States Marine Corps, from the Movie “A Few Good Men.” In A Few Good Men, Col. Jessep, commanding officer at the US base in Guantanamo Bay, orders a couple of low-ranking NCO’s to haze a weakling in their unit — an unofficial military procedure otherwise known as a ‘code red.’ Unfortunately, this kid dies in the process, and the colonel lets his subordinates take the fall. When Jessep is finally asked to explain his actions, he barks that what he has done might be considered offensive to some — but, ultimately, American soil is a little safer because of his unpopular executive decision. This, again, is an example of an autocratic style:

I think (and I hope) the extremely autocratic, authoritarian military leader gets washed out early in their career before they can damage the morale and effectiveness (esprit de corps) of the troops under their command. There are much more mentor and servant-oriented leaders in the military, and I am certain that the new and improved leadership style is cascading down the ranks to the young officers and NCO’s, and also to the military academy Midshipmen, Cadets and Airmen. The “in your face” style is old; the servant leader is the leader of the future. Hopefully, once the changes in leadership styles take hold in the military, the stereotype of the military leader changes as well.

Copyright © Dale R. Wilson

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There are a few online resources that discuss this very topic specifically.  Rather than attempt to echo what they say, and risk plagiarizing their content, I will provide you the various links.  I encourage you to check them out:

“Toxic Leaders” – By Colonel George E. Reed, U.S Army – Military Review – July – August 2004 (pages 67 thru 71) – http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/milreview/reed.pdf – Accessed 1 February 2012 – Maxwell Air Force Base (Montgomery, Alabama), United States Air Force Air War College, Gateway to the Internet Home Page – http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/

“Toxic Leadership in the U.S. Army” – By Colonel Denise F. Williams, U.S. Army – Report Date 18 Mar 2005 – http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA431785 – Accessed 1 February 2012 – The Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC) – http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/

“Toxic Leadership: Part Deux” – By Colonel George E. Reed, Ph.D., U.S. Army, Retired and Lieutenant Colonel Richard A. Olsen, D.Min., U.S. Army, Retired – Military Review – November – December 2010 (pages 58 thru 64) – http://usacac.army.mil/CAC2/MilitaryReview/Archives/English/MilitaryReview_20101231_art011.pdf – Accessed 1 February 2012 – http://usacac.army.mil/ – United States Army Combined Arms Center

“Antecedents and Consequences of Toxic Leadership in the U.S. Army: A Two Year Review and Recommended Solutions” – By John P. Steele – Technical Report (2011-3) – Center for Army Leadership – Report Date 30 June 2011 – http://info.publicintelligence.net/USArmy-ToxicLeaders.pdf – Accessed 8 February 2012 – Public Intelligence – http://publicintelligence.net/

Decision-Making in the New ‘Leadership Organization’

Posted in Leadership, Video of the Week with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 26, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

Last Friday, I posted Leading The Charge: Leadership Lessons from the Battlefield to the Boardroom as the Video of the Week.  The video featured General Anthony Zinni, retired four-star Marine Corps General and a former Commander-in-Chief of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM).  If you haven’t seen that post yet, please take some time to view it.  If you do not have the time to watch the video, I have provided a comprehensive summary of what General Zinni said in his lecture.

In that video, at the very end, following his lecture, around the 50th minute, General Zinni conducted a question and answer session with the audience.  A few of the questions were focused on World affairs and military actions in Afghanistan.  However, the second question that was asked (at approx. minute 56:43) led to one of the most poignant and educational messages of the entire video.  The answer that General Zinni provided compelled me to write this post.  I summarize the question and its answer below:

Question – Military teaches that leadership is a two-way street.  However, that thought process seems to be missing in the civilian sector.  Corporate executives are often viewed as ‘first in the chow line.’  How can we change this culture?

Anthony Zinni.jpgGeneral Zinni’s AnswerWhat’s important is how you view the leadership in your organization.  If you view the leadership as top down, the leadership is a structure – there is a line and a chain – There are designated bosses.  So, leadership in your organization is through that line, through that chain, through those tiers, through those individuals, and comes from the top and goes down to the bottom, which is a common way people think about it.  You’re missing the boat.

Think about your organization, in total, as a leadership organization, where you invite participatory involvement in decision-making; where people at every level, from the sides and the bottom, have a voice and a view, and are permitted and encouraged to provide feedback.  If you delegate more, if there is more distributed decision-making, then you see an organization that is a ‘leader organization.’

When we went to the all-volunteer military, after the Vietnam War, we changed to that model.  And, what became important, when we used to give an operations order, the commander gave a mission statement and a set of tasks.  And, we added to that what was called “Commander’s Intent”; the intention of the commander.  That overrode the tasks and the mission, because you were given a set of missions and tasks that were based on what you knew at that moment.  Like everybody knows, no plan survives the first shot that is fired.

By giving that intent, by making sure your unit and your organization understood your style of leading – what your expectations were – what you wanted to achieve – what you hoped those tasks would achieve – if those tasks don’t work, the freedom of subordinates to act within the intent, and not to the letter of the law.

In many ways, this is what frustrated our enemies.  The Soviet system was pure “top down.”  The commanders at the smallest levels did not have transmitters in their combat vehicles; they could only receive.  We wanted sergeant’s and corporal’s to input and respond.  We wanted to have a pool system; “tell me what you’re seeing up front?”  To take independent action, but it was very difficult because you had to create a culture and an understanding of where we were heading.  Everybody knew where we were heading and what we wanted to do.

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General Zinni then proceeded to talk about when he was a regimental commander, talking to his junior officers who wanted to know what ‘intent’ meant.  He said to them, in a role-play-oriented conversation:

“Lieutenant, when you’re sitting on a hill, and you have no communications, you’ve executed your last mission and you don’t know what to do next, you’re going to say to yourself, “What would Colonel Zinni want me to do right now?”  And, you’d be able to answer that question, and act.  And I would have known I had succeeded in communicating intent, creating an environment (an organizational environment) that we understood how we operated.  That would have been a successful way we do business.”

(That lieutenant) is part of the leadership.  He isn’t just the receiver of instructions, he is an executor of intent.  He provides leadership; sometimes laterally, sometimes from the bottom up.  He makes recommendations.  He doesn’t just report.  “Don’t just tell me what you see, lieutenant, tell me what YOU think should happen up there.”  He has a say.  It’s integrated into the decision-making process. 

So, the answer has to be, and what the military learned through tough experience, the hard-line monkey tree doesn’t work.

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What was General Zinni referring to, a ‘monkey tree’ organization?  Much earlier in the video, General Zinni described the “Monkey Tree.”  It goes like this:

“The leadership chain-of-command is like a tree full of monkeys.  When you look from the top down, you see a bunch of smiling faces.  When you look from the bottom up, the perspective’s a little different.”

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Not everybody gets it in the military yet.  You want to change that perception from the bottom up.  (Everybody is part of it).  It’s a leadership culture – it’s a leadership organization, as opposed to a leadership structure that just comes top down.  That’s the philosophy and the way we’ve got to approach leadership in successful organizations today.

That SEAL Team Six leader has to make decisions on that ground, he doesn’t have the next command up – the next command up – the next command up sitting next to him.  How does he make those decisions?  He is what we call in the military “the strategic corporal”; that young NCO (non-commissioned officer) on a street corner can make or break the entire operation if he makes a bad decision.  A (video or television) camera is going to be right on him.  (For example), those NCO’s at Abu Ghraib devastated the mission and the good work of thousands of troops by a lack of leadership and a lack of understanding what they were doing.

The organization has to be all glued in to the same intent, and have buy-ins and believe they are part of the leadership, and have input and have a say.  That’s the way we have to change the culture in that kind of environment.

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That concludes the General Zinni portion of this post.  But, regarding decision-making, taking action, and risk-taking, I wanted to bring General George S. Patton, Jr. into the discussion.  To hit upon each of these topics, below I present General Patton’s philosophy –

PROVIDE CREATIVE SPACE –

“Never tell people how to do things.  Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.”

Patton believed in exploiting, encouraging, and rewarding individual initiative.  Patton saw leadership as mostly training and motivation.  The object of leadership is to create people who know their jobs and who can reliably supply the how to your what.

Source – Axelrod, Alan. Patton on Leadership: Strategic Lessons for Corporate Warfare. Paramus, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1999. Page 165.

INDECISIVENESS –

“In case of doubt, ATTACK!!!”

Instead of waiting to see what might develop, attack constantly, vigorously, and viciously.  If you’re standing around trying to figure out what is happening or what the enemy is up to, you are making one hell of a good target out of yourself and your men.  Never let up.  Never stop.  Always attack.  “L’audace, l’audace, toujours l’audace.*

Source – Province, Charles M. Patton’s One-minute Messages: Tactical Leadership Skills for Business Management. Novato, CA: Presidio, 1995. Page 46.

* Translation is, “audacity, more audacity, and even more audacity.”  Audacity, if you look in a thesaurus, also translates to boldness, daring, courage, bravery and nerve.  So, when in a position of indecisiveness, “L’audace, l’audace, toujours l’audace.”

TAKING ACTION and AVOIDING INACTION –

“Lack of orders is no excuse for inaction.”

It’s everyone’s job to strive unceasingly toward goals and objectives to ensure total victory.  Don’t think that you’re finished just because you’ve reached one objective.  Don’t wait for orders to continue the battle.  While you’re working and fighting for the current objective, you must be planning for the next assault.  History is full of tragic accounts of campaigns lost because leaders stopped on the wrong side of a river, because they didn’t have the initiative to exploit the advantage of a battle just won, and because they failed to obey the basic requirement to constantly be on the offensive.  Patton said, “I assure all of my officers and soldiers that I have never and will never criticize them for having done too much.  However, I shall certainly relieve them for doing nothing.”  When orders fail to come, they must act on their own best judgement.

Source – Province, Charles M. Patton’s One-minute Messages: Tactical Leadership Skills for Business Management. Novato, CA: Presidio, 1995. Page 55.

RISK-TAKING –

“Take calculated risks.”

The key word here is calculated.  Almost everything in life is a risk to some degree, especially the outcome of a battle.  If you have well-trained soldiers, you have a good chance of winning, even though the odds may not be in your favor.  The key to a calculated risk lies in the esprit de corps of your soldiers.  If you and your enemy have a parity of resources in weapons, supplies, and men, the purely statistical chances of winning will be fifty-fifty.  However, If your men are well-trained, are highly motivated, have good morale, and possess a fighting and winning spirit, they’ll have what it takes to tip the scales and make the fight ninety-ten in your favor.  You’ll most probably win.  Your soldiers’ good morale and winning attitude can allow you to take a calculated risk.

Source – Province, Charles M. Patton’s One-minute Messages: Tactical Leadership Skills for Business Management. Novato, CA: Presidio, 1995. Page 77.

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Copyright © Dale R. Wilson

Leading the Charge: Leadership Lessons from the Battlefield to the Boardroom

Posted in Video of the Week with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

Presented by General Anthony Zinni, USMC (ret.)

The Video of the Week

Video Length = 1:08:57

General Anthony Zinni is a retired four-star Marine Corps General and a former Commander-in-Chief of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and the current Chairman for The Spectrum Group.  He graduated from Villanova University with a degree in economics.  He has attended the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, Amphibious Warfare School, Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and the National War College. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and two Master of Arts degrees, one in international relations and another in management and supervision.

After his retirement in 2000, General Zinni served his country as the U.S. Peace Envoy in the Middle East and as the Special Envoy to the Henri Dunant Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (Indonesian, Philippines and Sudan peace efforts), and was an instructor in the Department of International Studies at the Virginia Military Institute.  In the Spring of 2008, he joined as an instructor at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University, where he became the Sanford Distinguished Lecturer in Residence, and currently teaches a course at the Hart Leadership Program.  He is also a public speaker, and an author of two best-selling books on his military career and foreign affairs; Battle for Peace: A Frontline Vision of America’s Power and Purpose and Leading the Charge: Leadership Lessons from the Battlefield to the Boardroom, as well as his memoir, Battle Ready, co-authored with Tom Clancy

In today’s video of the week, General Anthony Zinni, USMC (ret.) is speaking at the 2nd Executive Leadership Forum of the George C. Marshall Foundation, on May 4, 2011, at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham, Michigan.  If you don’t have the time to view the entire video, I have summarized it below.  But, I encourage you to watch the entire video; maybe watch it in 15 minute sections.

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General Zinni was asked to teach a course for senior undergraduates at The Sanford School of Public Policy (Sanford Leadership Center) at Duke University.  At the same time, a publisher he was working with wanted him to write a book about leadership.  At first, he thought that anything that he could write about leadership had already been written.  He wanted to write about the leadership of today.

When researching to write his book, General Zinni found that there were three kinds of leadership books:

1)      Reflections on leadership by great leaders

2)      “Feel good”  and motivational books

3)      Text Books

In General Zinni’s previous book, “Battle for Peace,” he had written about how the World had changed since the collapse of the Soviet Union, in the last twenty years.

1)      The rise of globalization

2)      The rise of information technology

3)      Mass migrations

4)      The urbanization of humans around the World

The book discussed how these things were impacting every facet of our lives.  Not just the way we govern, and the politics, but also in business.  Although he saw some traditional strong leadership traits that can be carried over to today, he recognized that the kind of leadership that was needed might be different; this is a different World.  Does it present different challenges and different requirements?  The challenges that leaders face today are much different, much more involved and much more complex than they were 20, 30, 40, or 50 years ago.

What is 21st Century leadership?  How is it different?  Where is it the same?  Who is succeeding and who is failing?  What do people think about leadership?  What do those who we lead think about us?

General Zinni wanted this leadership book to be across every spectrum of society in leadership, not just political leadership, or business leadership, or military leadership.  He researched a variety of surveys conducted by many institutions that studied leadership; surveys that take the pulse of the people about how they feel they are being led.  He approached Harvard, The University of Maryland, and many other institutions to see what people are saying about leadership.

In the 2008 Results of these surveys,  80% of the people said that we had a crisis in leadership in our society.  When looking at the breakdown of the surveys, not one element of leadership in our society  achieved over 50% approval rating; not political leadership, not religious leadership, not business leadership.  He was shocked that this is how they felt about it.  He thought that maybe some of this could be attributed to the economy; some of it to the pessimistic view people have now; things don’t seem to be going that well – maybe politically, maybe our foreign policy, maybe some of the business and economic disasters, or military issues.

This caused General Zinni to ask why?  Why is this happening?  The first thing he wanted to find out was why are leaders failing?  Why is there a sense of broad failure?  Why do leaders fail?

He didn’t want the book to be anecdotal.  He didn’t want it to be a personal opinion.  He wanted to base it on his own research.

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General Zinni found that there is one of three reasons leaders fail –

1)      Lack of confidence

2)      Lack of caring for their people

3)      Lack of the appropriate personal conduct

CONFIDENCE –

Today’s World is much more complex and difficult.  The amount of things people need to know is far greater.  The amount of skills you need to have to be a leader in any field is far greater.  Regardless of what you do for a living, your knowledge base has to be broader.  Successful leaders have to mushroom out, and need to possess skills and knowledge their predecessors never had to have.

General Zinni, when he first left the military and entered the business World, was an executive vice president working for a CEO who was ‘schooling him up’ on the World of business.  This CEO told him, “one thing we don’t like in business is tall, thin people.”  Zinni explained that these are people who have great leadership potential, but grow up in a narrow area.  People who possess a talent or a skill that everybody recognizes, who all of a sudden finds themselves at the top, and they realize that the narrow base that, for decades, they had been successful in isn’t sufficient.

Successful leadership development programs identify leaders early on and expand their base of knowledge early on.  Companies are taking potential leaders of the future and placing them in one department or area of focus, such as finance or accounting.  Then, after about a year, moving them into possibly marketing, or another fundamental discipline of the company; to spread them out and expand their knowledge and broaden their experience.

Being competent is much more difficult because the requirement to be much more knowledgeable, to be technically proficient, to have a broad-based education, and to continue to learn.  Leaders that succeed never stop learning.

CARING AND TAKING CARE OF PEOPLE –

We lead a very different workforce today.  It is most significant in its diversity.  Today’s diversity goes two ways:

1)      Racial, origin/ethnic, gender, sexual orientation, etc.

2)      Generational (silent generation, baby boomers, millennials, generation x, generation y, and the new silent generation)

Their upbringing and their environment have shaped them in a very different way.

In the Marine Corps, they say every Marine is green.  General Zinni insists they’re not all green.  Each of them is different.  Everybody’s (push) buttons are different.  The leaders that are successful can touch those buttons.  It’s been said that every individual is a story.  The great leaders want to know all of those stories.  That’s how you connect to everybody.  Organizations have to shape their leadership to fit that diversity; to fit that individualism.  Leaders have to understand where those differences are, and why they are different.  People respond to different motivations.

The greatest act of respect is listening.  How much time do we spend listening to those that work for us, or those we are responsible for?  That act of listening is the most significant thing.  And, that brings the leader the greatest respect, if you show interest in who they are, what they are, how they think, and how they care.  And, their feedback into what is being done.

The organizations, institutions, and companies that are interested in these things tend to be much better.

PERSONAL CONDUCT –

We live in a World that is under greater scrutiny.  Personal conduct, ethical behavior, and moral behavior have greater focus and greater attention.  Even though that is the case, there are still leaders who still do not get it.  There are still leaders who don’t understand that their personal conduct is under direct scrutiny, and it reflects on the organization.

The organizations that tend to succeed, and the leaders who tend to succeed, are interested in feedback at every level, and interested in developing subordinates.  The demand for counseling, mentorship, and coaching has been the greatest change in organizational and individual development.  Organization programs that focus on young, developing leaders to:

1)      Understand themselves

2)      Have greater self-awareness

3)      Understand who they are

4)      Understand where their leadership levels are

5)      Understand where their skill levels are

6)      Help them identify their limitations

7)      Identify the good things, and capitalize on the good things

Organizations have to work with these young leaders and have to provide the means for them to develop their skills.  These young leaders have to see, interact with and get to know senior leaders that have succeeded that they can relate to.  They need to be paired up with people who have the skill or knowledge that they have limitations in, to help develop it.

Putting young future leaders in a ‘no harm, no foul’ situation; where they were put in a leadership environment and allowed to make mistakes; where you wanted to hear how they felt about themselves; to learn where their limitations might be; to be open and honest with them, but not in a way that it was going to affect their evaluation in any way.  All of this so that you can help them improve.  That takes a lot of trust from both the young leader and the coach/mentor.  Young leaders need to get this feedback, and get that feedback from someone they can trust to help develop them.

Successful leaders today are willing to admit what they need to work on, and they work on those things.  They don’t try to hide them or protect them.  And the organizations they work for help them with that process.

Great leaders today are great communicators.  They can communicate internally and externally; and, very effectively.  They’re the voice.  They give the vision.  The people of the organization can relate to them, and the leader has a personality that comes across.  Leaders don’t fear that communication.  The communication is constant.  Especially in an environment where there might be fear and uncertainty.  Hearing the leader’s voice becomes critically important.

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CRISIS AND CHANGE –

Every organization goes through crisis or change.  Crisis and change both have the same effect on an organization.  Managing your way through crisis and change is the mark of a good leader.  These leaders who guide organizations through crisis or change understand their organization.

The most successful organizations have become flat in their structure, streamlined, and flexible.  They team and restructure themselves as the demand requires; the demand from their customers, demand from their competitors, etc.  They are constantly changing and morphing.

General Zinni told a story about a small software company that he had come across that regularly restructured and reorganized; weekly, sometimes daily.  This restructuring may have been based on the demands of their contracts (what they had to do, and what the tasks were to deliver on the needs of the customer).  This company was unafraid to move around lines of authority, and change teams and restructure.  That is the ultimate in flexibility and adaptability.  This is not easy to do in any size or type of organization.  The old days of having one person in charge, one solid line of accountability and authority no longer exists.

Now, there are webbed or matrix organizational structures, where teams are temporarily built for a particular purpose, and then readjusted.  The military has learned that lesson and operates this way.  The way the military fights and goes into different missions doesn’t reflect their peace-time or structure is.  The old Napoleon staff system (Napoleonic structure staff), which the military had relied on for decades and centuries, is still reflected a lot in the business World or in government; it doesn’t work anymore.

General Zinni commented on when he was commander of U.S. Central Command in Iraq, managing the war in his headquarters in the war zone, his superiors, including the President of the United States, had the ability to see right into the battlefield.  It prevented him the opportunity to give context to what they were seeing on the battlefield.  But, it is the reality of the technology we have today.  Being beamed into the White House Situation Room, and the living rooms of every American, is something that is raw that doesn’t have the opportunity of time and analysis to go through to put it in context.  That is the World we live in.  You can get lost in the shuffle, get behind the power curve, or lost in time if your organization has too many tiers.  Organizations now don’t need it because of the technology out there.

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TECHNOLOGY TODAY –

The leaders today that can master technology, particularly communication and information technology, tend to do best.  Technology is changing so rapidly that systems that might be current and useful to an organization now might become obsolete in a very short period of time.  It gets expensive.  But, technology dominates our World.

There are pros and cons to technology’s advancement and dominance.  The pros are that it flattens the organizations, allows for greater span of control, and it provides you with more information.  The cons are that it requires speed to react to, and it can be overwhelming.  Through this, we’ve lost the ability to think, analyze, and strategize.

Companies are receiving tons of information, and they are responding to it in knee-jerk reactions.  They fall into the trap that faster is always better.  Sometimes it is.  Sometimes 80% solutions given in time are better than 100% solutions now.  But, it becomes a trap, and there is no thinking that goes on.

The new generation (with email, texting, Twitter, Facebook and many other social forums) is receiving literally thousands of pieces of information, and transmitting thousands of pieces of information.  General Zinni is concerned with what goes on between the reception and the transmission; “Are there any brain cells being engaged.”  The ability to process the information is symbolic of our World.

General Zinni, when he was the commander of Central Command, had to conduct video teleconferences with his field commanders around the World.  It might be 3:00 in the morning wherever these participants were during these video teleconferences.  Zinni, looking at all of these different screens, is trying to give them direction and guidance, and he is trying to look into their eyes and see if they got it, if there’s some uncertainty, or lack of understanding.  In his opinion, the certain technology has affected the personal touch necessary in communicating with people.  Some people need (require) that personal touch when communicating with others.

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STRATEGY –

Strategy is a lost art.  We no longer think strategically.

It starts with an organization’s vision statement; what and where does the company want to be five and ten years from now?  CEO’s are too focused on the next fiscal quarter.  Companies operate from quarter to quarter without having a vision for the long-term.

Leaders have to have a long-term vision and strategy; for leaders to know where they are going, and they know how they want to get there.  They know what the goals and objectives are, and the action plans that will accomplish them.  They know how to allocate their resources to make things happen.  Any organization that is operating short-term, while losing site of the long-term, is heading for big trouble.

It is not only important to plan for the long-term, but to communicate it to everyone in the organization; to give them a sense of where they are heading.  It helps build some of the confidence against that apprehension that they have in this kind of environment.

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VALUES –

The leaders today that are successful also have a strong set of values; they have a code.  They have a personal code, and a code on how an organization is going to be run.  The code is more than the standards of conduct posters on the wall.  Some companies are quite proactive to give their employees multiple choice tests online on company ethics, and then show the companies statistics of knowledge on the standards of ethics within the organization.  What these things don’t tell you is if the people are living and breathing that kind of ethical behavior.  Is it really permeating and understood within the organization.  As a leader, you want to know the true behavior of your people.

You can’t run a large organization without problems and issues.  Sometimes people are well-meaning, and might compromise on standards because they think they’re doing something better for the company, or they’re willing to take a short cut to get something done.

How much do the senior leaders demonstrate personally the standards of conduct and values?  It means a lot to the employees, because they have certain expectations and images of them.  If the boss takes shortcuts, or is willing to compromise the values, then there is no ethical system within the organization.

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CRITICAL THINKING –

At the Marine Corps University, they teach course on how to think; critical thinking, systems thinking, creative thinking.  They teach how to do an analytical assessment of the issues and problems you might face.

In many companies, the big boss says, “we have a problem,” and calls all of the middle managers into the conference room.  Everybody gathers into the conference room and the boss says, “We’re going to solve the problem.”  But, nobody stops to define the problem.  Nobody stops to determine what they are exactly trying to get at; what are we facing?

It’s important to stop and define the issue and problem.  Sometimes it is not the problem you thought it was; it could be worse, it could be less.  It could be a different problem altogether.  Sometimes it might not even be a problem.

Actionable Intelligence – You have raw intelligence, but it has to be analyzed and put together in a way that leads you to be able to make the decisions and the actions necessary to resolve the issue.

Analysis – To tackle the problem, you’ve got to break it down and analyze it.  You have to break it down into its parts.  Then, you synthesize it and put it back together in a way you can use it; a way that is meaningful to the problem solvers.  Synthesis is part of the analytical process.  Then, you have to look at the issue within its context.  The analogy would be that we all live within a system; and we live within a system of systems.  You can’t pull something out and look at it in isolation, because it affects a number of other things.  When you try to deal with a problem in isolation, you don’t know how it will impact the other parts of the system.  You’ve got to analyze what part of the system it is, and how does that system interact with other systems.

Analytical Decision-Maker –When you learned to drive a car, you were an analytical decision-maker.  You have a lot of information and data coming at you from all different directions and you have to make decisions in a reactionary way.  You looked at a situation, analyzed it, and then decided the proper (and safe) course of action.

Recognitional Decision-Maker – You’ve been through so many different situations over and over again over time that you can recognize what is going on, or what is going to happen, and know what you need to do.  These become decisions that at some point you don’t even think about it, you just know what to do.  There are patterns that you see, and you see them accurately.  You can see these patterns, and you understand, from examined experience, where it is taking you.

Intuitive Decision-Maker – These people know, with a quick glance, what course to take.  They understand the intangible parts of a situation.  They have a sense of a situation that comes from extensive experience and knowledge.  They develop their ability to make decisions through an analytical, recognitional to an intuitive process.  You’ve learned lessons from what you’ve gone through and can make intuitive decisions.

To develop leaders to become critical thinkers and good decision-makers, companies should put future leaders into actual experiences and pressure situations, learning lessons from what they’ve been through, to help them build up a bank of capabilities.  General Zinni emphasized this by talking about his experience in Vietnam as a 2nd Lieutenant.  Today, 40 years later, he still looks back on that time and those experiences, and draws lessons from those experiences.  These are lessons he has come to realize over time, and after reflecting on other experiences he’s had throughout his career.  He has had the ability to analyze things in a broader context due to how he developed, matured and was educated.  Now, he can see things, and draw a lesson from them that he might (or could) not have been able to do immediately afterward.

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In the 21st Century, it is a much more complicated, complex World.  When a remote thing happens in the most isolated part of the World, it affects everybody.  Why would we be in a situation where a bunch of rag-tag people living in mountains and hills in Afghanistan cause the World to turn totally around, and affect everything we do?  Ultimately, down to our businesses and to the way our government reacts, our foreign policy, how we’re viewed around the World.  It’s the nature of the World now.  There are no small things that go on in the World.  It’s a much more confused World.  This World has become too complicated.

Education and curiosity – curious leaders try to understand everything.  Leaders have to have a broad base of interests, not just focus on one part.

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At the very end of the video, around the 50thminute, General Zinni conducted a question and answer session with the audience.  For the most part, the questions were primarily focused on World affairs and military actions in Afghanistan.  However, the second question asked (at approx. minute 56:43) led to one of General Zinni’s most poignant, thought-provoking, and on target messages of the entire video (the answer runs through minute 1:01:33).  If you haven’t watched the video, or haven’t gotten that far into the video, I encourage you to look at this specific part of it while you’re reading this post.  His answer was so good, I have decided to discuss this single piece of the lecture in a separate blog post, because the topic deserves its own separate forum.

The question was, “Military teaches that leadership is a two-way street.  However, that thought process seems to be missing in the civilian sector.  Corporate executives are often viewed as first in the chow line.  How can we change this culture?”  Next Week, we will continue with General Zinni’s answer to this question and some further analysis.

Copyright © Dale R. Wilson

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Sources –

“Anthony Zinni”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Zinni – Last modified on 13 January 2012 – Accessed 19 January 2012 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page

The Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale Award for Inspirational Leadership

Posted in Leadership, Naval Leadership with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 18, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

Vice Admiral (VADM) James Bond Stockdale was a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, a fighter pilot and one of the most highly decorated officers of the Navy.  In September 1965, he ejected out of his A-4E Skyhawk over North Vietnam.  For eight years, Admiral Stockdale was held prisoner and was frequently tortured.  He organized the American’s resistance against the North Vietnamese.  VADM Stockdale was awarded 26 personal combat decorations and four Silver Stars.  In 1976, he received the Medal of Honor.  From October 1977 until August 1979, he served as president of the Naval War College in Newport, R.I.  Admiral Stockdale died in 2005 and is buried at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

Admiral Jonathan Greenert, the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), presented the Vice Admiral James Bond Stockdale Leadership Award to two commanders at the Pentagon in the Hall of Heroes on January 5th.  The Navy established the award more than three decades ago, in part to recognize VADM Stockdale’s distinguished naval career that symbolizes the highest standards of excellence in both personal character, example and leadership.  The annual honor recognizes two active-duty commanding officers, one from each coast, below the rank of captain, who are in command of a single ship, submarine, aviation squadron, or operational warfare unit, whose service shows personal character and excellent leadership.  These commanders are nominated by their peers, and recommended by their fleet commanders, for consideration by a panel of senior officers.

Commander (CDR) Robert B. Chadwick II, representing the Atlantic fleet, former commanding officer (CO) of the USS Roosevelt (DDG 80), based in Mayport, Florida, and CDR Gerald N. Miranda Jr., representing the Pacific Fleet, former CO of the San Diego-based submarine USS Asheville (SSN 758), both received this year’s award.  They were given the award due to their leadership, personal initiative, exemplary performance and contribution to the overall success of the operational units they commanded.  By receiving this award, they are considered to be the best in the fleet, according to their peers.

CDR Chadwick credited his success to his crew on the Roosevelt.  “Although this award is being presented to me I honestly feel as though it is a unit award,” said Chadwick. “This award is for inspirational leadership and if that is true inspiration flowed both ways because I was inspired every day by the Sailors of Roosevelt. I won’t presume that I fully earned it the highest compliment I could receive would be that I was a commanding officer that Roosevelt’s remarkable crew deserved and I accept this award on their behalf.”

Chadwick said, “I was inspired every day by the sailors of Roosevelt” and “Whenever you are in a leadership position, your mindset needs to be, I am here for them…I think where leaders can get in trouble is if they ever take the approach, ‘They are here for me’. If you take that service approach, ‘I can only be successful if they are successful’, then I think you can’t go wrong.”

Chadwick said part of his leadership style is to build the confidence of sailors and give them the opportunities they need to succeed. That worked well on the Roosevelt, he said.

CDR Miranda said that, to him, the Stockdale award means being a role model for crew members and commanding officers both at work and at home.  “Although my name is on the plaque, it’s really a crew award. Without my courageous and dedicated crew this recognition would not be possible. Each and every Sailor onboard shares in this award’s prestige; they are a group of ordinary men doing extraordinary things,” said Miranda.  “Being a commanding officer is a 24/7, 365-days-a-year job that requires constant and unrelenting standards,” Miranda said. “It means doing the right thing all the time regardless of the obstacles and pressures to do otherwise, as well as being the example for others to follow.”

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Command Leadership is a challenging undertaking, even under the best of circumstances.  Being in command of these ships and squadrons is not all about winning awards and accolades.  It’s about leading Sailors through some of the toughest personal and professional challenges imaginable.[i]

The Vice Admiral James Bond Stockdale award embodies all of what the core values and leadership principles represent.  The recipients of this award have demonstrated their ability to gain the trust of their respective crews, have gained their loyalty, and have ultimately succeeded at inspiring and influencing them to accomplish the mission of the ship.  These two Naval officers were proud, yet unselfish in their acceptance of this award; giving all of the credit to their respective crews.  In the military, officers don’t spend a lot of time bragging about what they’ve accomplished.  They focus on how they can help their team.  They instill a sense of belief in their people, and, in turn, their people are confident that they can accomplish their goals and objectives.  Officers in the military should not focus on advancing their careers, as much as they should work to advance the knowledge and experience of their subordinates.

Commander Chadwick and Commander Miranda have demonstrated their ability to influence others through emotionally intelligent interaction, ability to demonstrate a strong team approach, and ability to understand the personal and professional motivators of their crew that provided the impetus for organizational progress.  Congratulations to both of these fine officers and gentlemen.

Copyright © Dale R. Wilson


Sources –

“Sub CO, former skipper earn top Navy honor” – By Jill Laster (staff writer) – Posted Tuesday, September 6, 2011 – http://www.navytimes.com/news/2011/09/navy-sub-co-former-skipper-earn-top-navy-honor-090611/ – Accessed 17 January 2012 – http://www.navytimes.com

“31st Annual Stockdale Leadership Awards Presented by CNO” – By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Shannon Burns, Defense Media Activity – Navy – Release Date: January 5, 2012 – http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=64644 – Accessed 17 January 2012 – http://www.navy.mil

“ ‘Aye-Aye Skipper!’ There Should Be More Stories Like This… ” – By Darlene Iskra – Posted January 17, 2012 – Battleland Blog (where military intelligence is not a contradiction in terms) – http://battleland.blogs.time.com/2012/01/17/aye-aye-skipper-there-should-be-more-stories-like-this/ – Accessed 17 January 2012 – http://www.time.com


Footnote – 

[i] Vice Admiral James Bond Stockdale Leadership Award Winners: A League of Extraordinary Officers and Gentlemen – By Captain Mike Lambert – The Real Navyhttp://therealnavy.com/default.aspx, accessed 17 January 2012

Photo Credits –

Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Shannon Burns, Defense Media Activity – Navy – Accessed 17 January 2012 – http://www.navytimes.com

Qualities that Lead to Success

Posted in Leadership, Traits with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 9, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

In recent posts, I have been introducing the core values and the eleven principles of leadership that are the foundations of an effective and successful leader.  I continue that discussion here with the traits that are the dimensions of the professional leader that are the guiding tenets that drive toward success and victory.

These 14 leadership traits are qualities of thought and action which, if demonstrated in daily activities, help leaders earn the respect, confidence, and loyal cooperation of their followers, peers and superiors.  It is extremely important that you understand the meaning of each leadership trait and how to develop it, so you know what goals to set as you work to become a good leader and a good follower.  Knowledge of the following leadership traits is essential for the practice of good leadership.

JUSTICE

Definition: Justice is defined as the practice of being fair and consistent. A just person gives consideration to each side of a situation and bases rewards or punishments on merit.

Suggestions for Improvement: Be honest with yourself about why you make a particular decision. Avoid favoritism. Try to be fair at all times and treat all things and people in an equal manner.

JUDGMENT

Definition: Judgment is your ability to think about things clearly, calmly, and in an orderly fashion so that you can make good decisions.

Suggestions for Improvement: You can improve your judgment if you avoid making rash decisions. Approach problems with a common sense attitude.

DEPENDABILITY

Definition: Dependability means that you can be relied upon to perform your duties properly. It means that you can be trusted to complete a job. It is the willing and voluntary support of the policies and orders of the chain of command. Dependability also means consistently putting forth your best effort in an attempt to achieve the highest standards of performance.

Suggestions for Improvement: You can increase your dependability by forming the habit of being where you’re supposed to be on time, by not making excuses and by carrying out every task to the best of your ability regardless of whether you like it or agree with it.

INITIATIVE

Definition: Initiative is taking action even though you haven’t been given orders. It means meeting new and unexpected situations with prompt action. It includes using resourcefulness to get something done without the normal material or methods being available to you.

Suggestions for Improvement: To improve your initiative, work on staying mentally and physically alert. Be aware of things that need to be done and then to do them without having to be told.

DECISIVENESS

Definition: Decisiveness means that you are able to make good decisions without delay. Get all the facts and weight them against each other. By acting calmly and quickly, you should arrive at a sound decision. You announce your decisions in a clear, firm, professional manner.

Suggestions for Improvement: Practice being positive in your actions instead of acting half-heartedly or changing your mind on an issue.

TACT

Definition: Tact means that you can deal with people in a manner that will maintain good relations and avoid problems. It means that you are polite, calm, and firm.

Suggestions for Improvement: Begin to develop your tact by trying to be courteous and cheerful at all times. Treat others as you would like to be treated.

INTEGRITY

Definition: Integrity means that you are honest and truthful in what you say or do. You put honesty, sense of duty, and sound moral principles above all else.

Suggestions for Improvement: Be absolutely honest and truthful at all times. Stand up for what you believe to be right.

ENTHUSIASM

Definition: Enthusiasm is defined as a sincere interest and exuberance in the performance of your duties. If you are enthusiastic, you are optimistic, cheerful, and willing to accept the challenges.

Suggestions for Improvement: Understanding and belief in your mission will add to your enthusiasm for your job. Try to understand why even uninteresting jobs must be done.

BEARING

Definition: Bearing is the way you conduct and carry yourself. Your manner should reflect alertness, competence, confidence, and control.

Suggestions for Improvement: To develop bearing, you should hold yourself to the highest standards of personal conduct. Never be content with meeting only the minimum requirements.

UNSELFISHNESS

Definition: Unselfishness means that you avoid making yourself comfortable at the expense of others. Be considerate of others. Give credit to those who deserve it.

Suggestions for Improvement: Avoid using your position or rank for personal gain, safety, or pleasure at the expensive of others. Be considerate of others.

COURAGE

Definition: Courage is what allows you to remain calm while recognizing fear. Moral courage means having the inner strength to stand up for what is right and to accept blame when something is your fault. Physical courage means that you can continue to function effectively when there is physical danger present.

Suggestions for Improvement: You can begin to control fear by practicing self-discipline and calmness. If you fear doing certain things required in your daily life, force yourself to do them until you can control your reaction.

KNOWLEDGE

Definition: Knowledge is the understanding of a science or art. Knowledge means that you have acquired information and that you understand people. Your knowledge should be broad, and in addition to knowing your job, you should know your unit’s policies and keep up with current events.

Suggestions for Improvement: Suggestions for Improvement: Increase your knowledge by remaining alert. Listen, observe, and find out about things you don’t understand. Study to become more knowledgeable in your field.

LOYALTY

Definition: Loyalty means that you are devoted to your organization, and to your seniors, peers, and subordinates. You owe unwavering loyalty up and down the chain of command, to seniors, subordinates, and peers.

Suggestions for Improvement: To improve your loyalty you should show your loyalty by never discussing the problems of the organization, your team, or members on your team with outsiders. Never talk about seniors unfavorably in front of your subordinates. Once a decision is made and the order is given to execute it, carry out that order willingly as if it were your own.

ENDURANCE

Definition: Endurance is the mental and physical stamina that is measured by your ability to withstand pain, fatigue, stress, and hardship. For example, enduring pain during a conditioning march in order to improve stamina is crucial in the development of leadership. As they say in the Marine Corps, pain is weakness leaving the body.

Suggestions for Improvement: Develop your endurance by engaging in physical training that will strengthen your body. Finish every task to the best of your ability by forcing yourself to continue when you are physically tired and your mind is sluggish.

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In addition to the fourteen leadership traits discussed above, there are seven others that have not been discussed in detail.  six of these seven are mentioned in the book Fundamentals of Naval Leadership, by the Department of Leadership and Law, U.S. Naval Academy.  The additional traits are cooperation, sense of humor, ability to write well, ability to speak effectively, creativity, self-discipline and charisma.  Charisma is the only one not referenced by the United States Navy.  The ability to write well and the ability to speak effectively would easily fall into one central trait, communication.  In a future post, I will define and discuss these additional leadership traits.  Also, we will go into further detail and discussion about all of the leadership traits and qualities that lead to success.

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Source –

Maxwell Air Force Base (Montgomery, Alabama), United States Air Force Air War College, Gateway to the Internet Home Page – United States Marine Corps – Marine Corps Leadership Traits – http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/usmc/leadership_traits.htm

Listen, Learn…Then Lead

Posted in Leadership, Video of the Week with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 6, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

by Stanley McChrystal (as seen on TED.com)

The Video of the Week

(scroll down to see today’s video)

With a remarkable record of achievement, General Stanley McChrystal has been praised for creating a revolution in warfare that fused intelligence and operations. A four-star general, he is the former commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan and the former leader of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), which oversees the military’s most sensitive forces. McChrystal’s leadership of JSOC is credited with the December 2003 capture of Saddam Hussein and the June 2006 location and killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq. McChrystal, a former Green Beret, is known for his candor.

After McChrystal graduated from West Point, he was commissioned as an infantry officer, and spent much of his career commanding special operations and airborne infantry units. During the Persian Gulf War, McChrystal served in a Joint Special Operations Task Force and later commanded the 75th Ranger Regiment. He completed year-long fellowships at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1997 and in 2000 at the Council on Foreign Relations. In 2002, he was appointed chief of staff of military operations in Afghanistan. Two years later, McChrystal was selected to deliver nationally televised Pentagon briefings about military operations in Iraq. From 2003 to 2008, McChrystal commanded JSOC and was responsible for leading the nation’s deployed military counter-terrorism efforts around the globe. He assumed command of all International Forces in Afghanistan in June 2009. President Obama’s order for an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan was based on McChrystal’s assessment of the war there. McChrystal retired from the military in August 2010.

In the following video from TED.com, General McChrystal shares what he learned about leadership over his decades in the military. How can you build a sense of shared purpose among people of many ages and skill sets? By listening and learning — and addressing the possibility of failure. Some of the key points General McChrystal emphasizes in this discussion are:

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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Sources –

TED.com: Ideas Worth Spreading – Listen, Learn…Then Lead: Stanley McChrystal on TED.comhttp://blog.ted.com/2011/04/05/listen-learn-then-lead-stanley-mcchrystal-on-ted-com/

TED.com: Ideas Worth Spreading – Stanley McChrystal’s Profile on TED.com – “Stanley McChrystal: Military leader”http://www.ted.com/speakers/stanley_mcchrystal.html

Eleven Principles of Leadership

Posted in Leadership, Principles with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 4, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

The following eleven principles of leadership may look familiar to those who have served in the United States Navy. They are the guiding principles for leadership for the Navy and the Marine Corps. They are presented here in a universal context that can be applied to both the corporate and military environments.

Developing these 11 leadership principles will help make you a better leader. Together, they will form a set of traits and values that define your character as a leader. Adopting these principles will guide your actions with your employees and your company, and provide direction throughout your career. These principles are also an important tool for self-evaluation. You can use them to identify your own strengths and weaknesses, and seek self-improvement.

1. Know yourself and seek self-improvement

Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. An accurate and clear understanding of yourself and a comprehension of group behavior will help you determine the best way to deal with any given situation.

  • Make an honest evaluation of yourself to determine your strong and weak personal qualities.
  • Seek the honest opinions of your friends and superiors to show you how to improve your leadership ability.
  • Learn by studying the causes of success or failure of other leaders.
  • Develop a genuine interest in people.
  • Have specific goals and definite plans to attain them.
  • Have a systematic personal reading program that emphasizes not only professional subjects but also includes topics to help you understand people, both as individuals, and in their functioning groups.

2. Be technically and tactically proficient

Demonstrate your ability to accomplish the mission and be capable of answering questions. Maintain a high level of competence in your occupation and specialty. Your proficiency will earn the respect of your people.

  • Know what is expected of you, and then expend time and energy on becoming proficient at those things.
  • Form an attitude early on of seeking to learn more than is necessary.
  • Observe and study the actions of capable leaders.
  • Spend time with those people who are recognized as technically and tactically proficient. Learn as much as you can from them.
  • Seek feedback from technically and tactically competent people concerning your own performance. Be willing to change.
  • Seek opportunities to apply knowledge through the exercise of command. Good leadership is acquired only through practice.
  • Prepare yourself for the job of the leader at the next higher rank.

3. Know your subordinates and look out for their welfare

You should know your people and how they react to different situations. Knowledge of your people’s personalities will enable you, as the leader, to decide how best to manage each person and determine when close supervision is needed.

  • Put the welfare of the women and men for whom you are accountable before your own welfare.
  • See the members of your unit, and let them see you, so that every one of them may know you and feel that you know them. Be approachable.
  • Let them see that you are determined to fully prepare them for the accomplishment of all missions.
  • Know your unit’s mental attitude; keep in touch with their thoughts.
  • Ensure fair and equal distribution of rewards.

4. Keep your subordinates informed

Informed employees perform better and, if knowledgeable of the situation, can carry on without your personal supervision. Providing information can inspire initiative and will ensure your people have enough information to do their job intelligently.

  • Whenever possible, explain why tasks must be done and any pertinent amplifying instruction.
  • Arrange to get sufficient feedback to assure yourself that immediate subordinates are passing on necessary information.
  • Be alert to detect the spread of rumors. Stop rumors by replacing them with the truth.
  • Build morale and esprit de corps by publicizing information concerning successes of your unit.
  • Keep your unit informed about current policies and initiatives affecting their pay, promotion, privileges and other benefits.

5. Set the example

Set the standard for your employees by personal example. Your employees will watch your appearance, attitude and personal example. If your personal standards are high, then you can rightfully demand the same of your employees.

  • Show your subordinates that you are willing to do the same things you ask them to do.
  • Be physically fit, well-groomed and correctly dressed.
  • Maintain an optimistic outlook.
  • Conduct yourself so that your personal habits are not open to criticism.
  • Exercise initiative and regard the spirit of initiative of your subordinates within your unit.
  • Avoid showing favoritism to any subordinate.
  • Delegate authority and avoid over-supervision, in order to develop leadership among subordinates.

6. Ensure the task is understood, supervised and accomplished

Before you can expect your employees to perform, they need to know what is expected of them. Communicate your instructions in a clear, concise manner, and allow your people a chance to ask questions. Check progress periodically to confirm the assigned task is properly accomplished. But, avoid micromanaging your people or the task.

  • Issue every directive as if it were your own.
  • Use the established chain of command.
  • Encourage subordinates to ask questions concerning any point in your instructions or directives they do not understand.
  • Question subordinates to determine if there is any doubt or misunderstanding in regard to the task to be accomplished.
  • Supervise the execution of your orders.
  • Exercise care and thought in supervision. Over-supervision hurts initiative and creates resentment; under-supervision will not get the job done.

7. Train your unit as a team

When training or instruction is necessary, train your employees with a purpose and emphasize the essential elements of teamwork and realism. Be sure that all employees know their positions and responsibilities within the team framework.

  • Study, prepare and train thoroughly, endlessly.
  • Encourage unit participation in recreational and company events.
  • Do not publicly blame an individual for the team’s failure or praise just an individual for the team’s success.
  • Ensure that training is meaningful, and that the purpose is clear to all members of the team or organization.
  • Train your team based on realistic conditions.
  • Insist that every person understands the functions of the other members of the team, and the functions of the team as a part of the unit.

8. Make sound and timely decisions

Rapidly estimate a situation and make a sound decision based on that estimation. There is no room for reluctance to make a decision. Should you discover you have made a wrong decision, revise it. Your employees will respect the leader who corrects mistakes immediately.

  • Develop a logical and orderly thought process by practicing objective estimates of the situation.
  • When time and situation permit, plan for every possible event that can reasonably be foreseen.
  • Consider the advice and suggestions of your subordinates before making decisions.
  • Make sure your people are familiar with your policies and plans.
  • Consider the effects of your decisions on all members of your unit.

9. Develop a sense of responsibility among your subordinates

Show your employees that you are interested in their welfare by giving them the opportunity for professional development. Assigning tasks and delegating authority promotes mutual confidence and respect between the leader and the team.

  • Operate through the chain of command.
  • Provide clear, well-thought-out directions.
  • Give your subordinates frequent opportunities to perform duties normally performed by senior personnel.
  • Be quick to recognize your subordinates’ accomplishments when they demonstrate initiative and resourcefulness.
  • Correct errors in judgment and initiative in a way which will encourage the individual to try harder.
  • Give advice and assistance freely when it is requested by your subordinates.
  • Let your people know that you will accept honest errors without punishment in return.
  • Resist the urge to micromanage.
  • Be prompt and fair in backing subordinates.
  • Accept responsibility willingly, and insist that your subordinates live by the same standard.

10. Employ your team or organization in accordance with its capabilities

Successful completion of a task depends upon how well you know your group’s capabilities. Seek out challenging tasks for your organization, but be sure they are prepared for and has the ability to successfully complete the mission.

  • Avoid volunteering your unit for tasks that are beyond its capabilities.
  • Be sure that tasks assigned to subordinates are reasonable.
  • Assign tasks equally among your subordinates.
  • Use the full capabilities of your unit before requesting assistance.

11. Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions

Actively seek out challenging assignments for your professional development. Seeking responsibilities also means that you take the responsibility for your actions.  You are responsible for all that your team does or fails to do. Stick by your convictions and be willing to accept justified and constructive criticism.

  • Learn the duties of your immediate senior, and be prepared to accept the responsibilities of these duties.
  • Seek a variety of leadership positions that will give you experience in accepting responsibility in different fields.
  • Take every opportunity that offers increased responsibility.
  • Perform every task to the best of your ability.
  • Stand up for what you think is right; have courage in your convictions.
  • Carefully evaluate a subordinate’s failure before taking action against that subordinate.
  • In the absence of orders, take the initiative to perform the actions you believe your senior would direct you to perform if present.

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Sources –

Maxwell Air Force Base (Montgomery, Alabama), United States Air Force Air War College, Gateway to the Internet Home Page – United States Navy – Leadership Principles – http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/navy/leadership_principles.pdf

Marine Officer “The Basic School” – Quantico, Virginia – Marine Officer – Leadership Principles – http://officer.marines.com/marine/making_marine_officers/basic_school/principles

Leadership Principles

Posted in Leadership, Principles, Video of the Week with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 30, 2011 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

Leadership in Battle

Hal MooreConsidered one of the top battlefield commanders in world history, Lieutenant General Harold G. Moore (US Army Retired) established his place in military history in 1965 when he led his vastly outnumbered troops to prevail in the first major battle of the Vietnam War.  Both on the battlefield and off, he has spent his lifetime studying and encouraging strong, principled leadership as a soldier and a human being.

The following video lays out Lt. Gen. Moore’s four main principles for a leader in battle.  Although they are discussed in the context of battlefield leadership, one can easily apply these leadership principles to a corporate environment by slightly adjusting the circumstances to a team or workplace scenario.  No matter if it is on a battlefield or in a corporate boardroom, leading a team to victory is the common goal.

Below are the four leadership principles for a leader’s conduct in battle, as discussed in the video:

1. Three strikes and you’re not out! There is always one more thing you can do to influence any situation in your favor.

There are two things a leader can do:

  • Contaminate his environment, and the unit, with his attitude and actions.

OR

  • He can inspire confidence.

A leader must be visible on the battlefield.  He must be self-confident, with a positive attitude, and exhibit confidence under any set of circumstances.  The determination to prevail must be felt by all, no matter what the odds or how desperate the situation.  He must have and display the will to win by his actions, his words, the tone of his voice, his appearance, his demeanor, his countenance, and the look in his eyes.  Instill the will to win. There can be no second-place trophies on display—awarded or accepted.

He must remain calm and cool; NO FEAR.  He must ignore the noise, the dust, smoke, explosions, screams of the wounded, the yells, and the dead lying around him; that is all normal.  He must not give off any hint or evidence that he is uncertain about a positive outcome; even in the most desperate of situations.

2. There’s always one more thing you can do to influence any situation in your favor.  And, after that, one more thing…and, after that, one more thing, etc., etc.

A leader must ask himself, “What am I doing that I should not be doing, and what am I not doing that I should be doing, to influence the situation in my favor?

3. A leader must always be ready! When there is nothing going wrong, there’s nothing going wrong except there is nothing going wrong.  That is when a leader should be most alert.

4. Trust your instincts.

In critical, fast-moving battlefield situations, Instincts and intuition give you an immediate estimation of a situation.  Your instincts are the product of your education, your reading, your personality, and your experience.  TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS.  When seconds count, instincts and decisiveness come into play.  In quick, developing situations, the leader must act fast and part confidence to all around him; he must not second-guess the decision.  MAKE IT HAPPEN!!!  Face up to the facts, deal with them, and move on.

In addition, General Moore had a few more principles for military leaders to apply to their course of conduct:

  • Everything in leadership boils down to judgment. Intelligence and good character does not imply you have good judgment.
  • Study history and leadership qualities. Pay special attention to why leaders fail.
  • A person in a position of authority does not automatically become immediately respected or trusted. This is earned.
  • Every person in an organization is as important and necessary to a mission as the next person. That goes from the top to the bottom.
  • Never deprive a person of their self-respect. NEVER!
  • To do well in any field of endeavor, it is an advantage to work with good people.
  • Strive to have one or two people around you who are totally trustworthy.
  • Spend quality time with the team, learning who they are and what motivates them. Create a family.
  • Great leaders learn to lead themselves first. Before you can lead others, leading yourself successfully must be accomplished day in and day out.
  • Successful leaders create the future.
  • Leaders must lead. Be the first boots on the ground and the last boots off.

 

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