Monthly Archives: April 2014

Book: Supreme Command

By Kevin Black

I’m finishing up Supreme Command: Soldiers, Statesman, and Leadership in Wartime.  The author is Eliot A. Cohen, a professor of strategic studies at Paul H. Nitze of Advanced International Studies of the Johns Hopkins Univ., and who has also taught US Naval War College in addition to Harvard University.

From my research, the book is considered a must-read for senior leaders looking to better themselve in balancing strategic leadership with strategic management.   It is about civil-military balance in wartime.   Should politicians (the leaders responsible for victory) stay out of the military strategy process, leaving it to their military experts? or should they interfere by probing, questioning, and possibly ignoring expert advice?   Cohen examines four world politicians who found the right balance:  Lincoln during the Civil War, Clemenceau during WWI, Churchill during WW2, and Ben-Gurion during the Israeli struggle throughout the 1940s.   Each leader is different by culture, knowledge, and experience; yet, each share remarkable similarities.  Some are:

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Orson Welles on General Marshall

Orson Welles remembering George C Marshall on the Dick Cavett Show

By Kevin Black

George Marshall was not known to be the warmest man, especially considering he fired 600 officers during the Second World War. Yet, Orson Welles’ reminiscence of Marshall supports the general’s unwavering conviction that his organization, the US Army, gravitated around the soldier, first and foremost. This is a great story for anyone interested in how to conduct themselves as a strategic leader. Start the video at 5:50.

Bureaucracies are slow, cumbersome, and self-defeating

LBJ meeting with “Blowtorch” Bob

By Kevin Black

I just read Bureaucracy Does Its Thing: institutional constraints on U.S. -GVN performance in Vietnam by Robert W. Komer.  This is a great summary of how the US and its Ally, South Vietnam, undercut their efforts to stop the spread of communism during the Vietnam War. A ten page executive summary is available.

The message is simple, clear-cut: bureaucracies are slow to innovate as well as reluctant to reevaluate themselves. Mistakes in strategy development and decision-making are inevitable.  Here are a few of my observations from the reading:

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THE STRATEGIC LEADER is up and running!

"The Architecht of Victory", George C Marshall, Chief of Staff of US Army, '39-'45
“The Architect of Victory”, George C Marshall, Chief of Staff of US Army, ’39-’45

By Kevin Black

THE STRATEGIC LEADER is a blog discussing the most important and desired type of leader. Books, reviews, articles, and thoughts of the day regarding strategy, leadership, and of course strategic leadership, will populate this site to support the growing professional – the professional seeking to boost his or her competivitive advantage as well as their ROI. Now let’s learn from one another and have fun!

– Kevin