Most of my learnings about Leadership come from my study of Military Leaders.
I learned experientially (and in the class room) throughout my 12 years as a US Army National Guard Combat Engineer officer.
I’d venture to say that Army training is as much about developing Leaders at EVERY level as it is about Physical Fitness and technical “Job” abilities . . . From the Private to the General.
Serving in the Military started a fire in my belly (in 1981) for being a life-long student of Leadership, and so I read MANY books . . . and I’m acutely aware that the books with the most formative thoughts (for me) around leadership come from current and former Military Leaders.
In his book The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today, Thomas E. Ricks writes:
“. . . generalship in combat is extraordinarily difficult, and many seasoned officers fail at it . . . personalities matter . . . During World War II, top officials expected some Generals to fail in combat and were prepared to remove them when that happened. The personalities of these Generals mattered enormously, and the chief of staff of the Army, George C. Marshall, devoted much effort to finding the right men for the jobs at hand. When some did not work out, they were removed quickly – but often given another chance in a different job.”
Later: “driven by the twofold ability first to anticipate problems and devise solutions and then to get people to execute the resulting plans.”
So devising great strategy is only validated through appropriate ACTION and execution (Mission Accomplishment)
General Marshall listed the qualities of the successful leader in the following order:
- “good common sense”
- “have studied your profession”
- “physically strong”
- “cheerful and optimistic”
- “display marked energy”
- “extreme loyalty”
These are some refreshing ideas in the sense that there is a fine distinction in the handling of “Failure.”
Great Leaders know that failure to complete a mission/task is good cause for “removal” of the person in charge . . . but in no way indicates the probable “usefulness” of that person in a different environment.
We honor all people’s potential to succeed, and we know that all people “fail” once in a while.
In fact . . . when we see someone who seems never to fail, we wonder . . .
Is she Superhuman?
Is this environment not challenging enough for her?
This may be revealing of a wealth of untapped potential.
The best Leaders take “The Law of 2 Feet” VERY seriously”
“If at any time you find yourself in a place where you are neither contributing nor receiving anything of value (exercising your human potential), then it is YOUR responsibility to use your 2 feet to take yourself to a place where you can contribute and/or receive value . . . Go be useful!
In every event, though . . . Personalities Matter!