“Democrats are growing uneasy with the number of generals President-elect Donald Trump has tapped for his administration, citing concerns about the amount of sway the military will have in the government. Trump has so far named three generals to top positions –– and there’s the potential for more.”
There seems to be a great degree of uncertainty, concern, queasiness or even disdain for the fact that Donald Trump appears to be surrounding himself with generals. The degree to which these people are accepted or cleared into key positions within his administration remains in the future; he hasn’t even been sworn in yet and there are a lot of people floating scenarios, ideas and suggestions for preventing that occurrence.
While you wait for the calendar to flip, consider what a general must have learned by the time stars arrived for shoulder boards.
“Generals understand the scope and scale of large problems.”
Generals are “able and willing to coordinate their activities with a number of other” high-level and highly-capable individuals.
It’s a maxim that a good general must understand logistics. Logistics must certainly be a major consideration in making a nation function efficiently.
Generals have significant experience in the management of large and diverse organizations.
“The willingness to allow yourself to be influenced by other people and to share your ideas openly enhances the know-hows, while being psychologically closed can cause problems. Leaders who are psychologically open seek diverse opinions, so they see and hear more and factor a wider range of information into their decisions. Their openness permeates the social system, enhancing candor and communication. Those who are psychologically closed are secretive and afraid to test their ideas, often cloaking that fear under the guise of confidentiality. They’re distant from their direct reports and have no one outside to bounce ideas off of or to provide information that counters their own beliefs. In the new environment of complexity, being psychologically closed makes it particularly difficult to reposition the business, because the leader lacks perspectives from diverse disciplines, functions and cultures….”
Generals know how to recruit (enroll into his assigned mission), manage, trust, motivate, respect and push teams.
Qualities of an Effective Leader
There are five personal attributes or qualities of an effective leader: courage, will, intellect, presence and energy. Courage can be described as both physical courage and moral courage. Will is defined in terms of both boldness and tenacity. Intellect is explained as the use of innovation, flexibility and judgment. Presence is used to rally and to inspire. And energy is a characteristic that provides dynamism to the other qualities, animates those who are following, and as an intensity that gets things accomplished.
Physical courage in warfare is more important than it is in athletics. But if we think of danger less in terms of personal physical harm than as a threat to the competitive presence of the team, then courage in sports has more to do with hanging tough, sucking it up, sticking it out, taking one for the team, stepping up, and so on. Among soldiers and athletes, phoniness and the lack of guts are soon discovered.
In warfare, we think of physical courage in terms of the officer leading the charge up the hill. In sports leadership, we must think more in terms of moral courage. We must recognize and appreciate that the leader is under the scrutiny of everyone in or observing the contest. The leader has the ability to make a decision, and the courage to act on the decision. With time and experience, those decisions will increasingly be the right ones. The leader is one who, having made a decision, has the resolution and the determination to stand firm and not waver when the issue remains in doubt.
Leadership is, in part, visibility. But moral courage is quiet, the calm determination that exists in and operates in the minds — and hearts — of the team, and strengthens the will against uncertainties and frustrations. It is what makes the strong-minded appear that way and enables you to stand against anything the opponent can muster up against you.
Leadership and moral courage have to do with responsibility. In warfare, that responsibility is sobering. In sports, life itself does not hang in the balance. In a team context, the leader must be capable of making others accomplish their mission in spite of their shortcomings. Two opposing elements of will are boldness and tenacity.
Boldness suggests a daring action, one that balances the risks with the outcomes. Boldness suggests flair, and perhaps impetuous action, but boldness without effective use of the mind is rash behavior with potentially disastrous consequences. When is the time for boldness and when is the time for caution? How does the leader go about deciding where and how to be bold?
Proper boldness is a calculated risk. The situation has been carefully reviewed. Meticulous planning has been involved. Risk and potential have been weighed. The opponent’s situation, resources and weaknesses have been assessed. Thought has been given about what can be done. Wishful thinking has been eliminated. Every means available has been used to eliminate the possibility of error. Then a time and place for a bold action is selected, when conditions will be favorable. This is not to say that bold action cannot be instant. It can, but it must be based on skill, experience and knowledge, on awareness and intuition.
Tenacity is the characteristic that enables the leader and his or her followers to hold out, no matter how adverse the odds or conditions, until the mission has been accomplished. Tenacity arises from an underlying sense of duty, rests squarely on discipline, and is aided by will. At such times, it seems the team cannot go on, but it must. Everyone has been pushed to their limits. Relief is nowhere in sight, unless quitting provides it. If you’re the leader, you can’t tell your group any baloney; they know what they’re up against. You can’t let talk or even thoughts of defeat creep into your mental fortress. You will improvise. You must continue to think, to strategize, to communicate. You
will squeeze every drop of value out of what your team has to offer.
Leadership in any major sphere is a clearly-defined professional discipline, but it is also a highly-personalized art.
Leadership is embodied in the individual, and no where is this more evident than in the area of presence. Presence in a military setting is again dominantly a physical and geographical concept; face-to-face contact is important in any relationship, but when the general shows up at the front, it has an immediate and visible impact. Presence as a means of rallying means using personal example and force
of character to bring order out of potential chaos during a critical turn of events.
At all times, the leader must be sincere. Insincere and repetitive appeals soon lose their value. A leader’s “presence” is best used when it is absolutely necessary to get people’s attentions, when it is useful in terms of changing people’s mindset or attitude, when it is essential to accomplishing the mission. In its most practical sense, the leader’s inspiration must produce the results he seeks before he arrives at the place and time where he thought his “presence” would turn the trick.
Pure brainpower is a critical element in leadership. In order to make judgment, flexibility and innovation work for you, you’ve got to be able to think clearly, you have to have done your homework, and you must develop and update an accurate assessment of and insight into what is happening in front of you.
Any of those qualities of intellect can help you produce a successful result.
Judgment is the ability to make a sound assessment of what is known about the opponent, the situation and capabilities of those on your team, to decide upon a practicable course of action, and to act.
Flexibility is the ability to shift mental gears under pressure without confusion of purpose. An accomplished leader has learned all of the principles or maxims of his craft. But the leader with experience learns to recognize the moment when the game’s maxims can be bent or disregarded. Innovation, of course, is the creation of change, of finding a new way of attacking the same problem. Having scouted and studied the opponent in front of him, having charted his tendencies, strengths, weaknesses and character, the leader has the information that will enable correct judgment when it is required. Having drilled his own team, with a clear and effective system of signs and signals, he is better assured of flexibility.
Energy does not stand alone as an attribute of leadership. It is the foundation and the cement that provide continuous support to the leader’s expression of courage, will, intellect and presence. Indeed, an energetic leader who cannot express the other four attributes will not achieve her goals; the followers will be aimless, or soon absent.
Spend a few dollars and a few hours; order the book and sit by the fireplace.
Leaders and Battles: The Art of Military Leadership, Lt. Col. William Wood, U.S.Army War College, Carlisle, PA.
The whole idea of emotional intelligence comes into focus too. You need not spend a lot of time reading the history of battles past; you are immersed in a massive battle right now. Look around you, and open your eyes.
I am more afraid of an army of 100 sheep led by a lion than an army of 100 lions led by a sheep.