Seven Facts to Know Before you Lead:
1. One person can make a difference between success and failure
2. Success comes from the help of others
3. You don’t need to be a manager to be a leader
4. The Combat Model is the most basic model
5. Essence of leadership: motivate people to perform their maximum potential to achieve goals as objectives
6. Leaders are not born
7. Good leadership doesn’t depend on good deals or pleasant working conditions
Here is a very interesting interview on the topic of culture and accountability. HBR spoke to Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Tom Ricks and author of The Generals. The interview is named, “How a Culture of Accountability Can Deteriorate.” Again, Ricks demonstrates the universality of strategic leadership whether in the private sector or in the military.
Executive Command has been using real-time strategy games as a learning delivery system for nearly ten years now. It is a very effective model to introduce not only complex strategic leader competencies (such as strategic thinking and communication) but also the most appropriate means of balancing them. You can probably guess our pleasant reaction to reading the following in Reason magazine.
“What researchers found is that participants engaged in ‘real-time strategy’ gaming…improved their cognitive flexibility. That is to say, they got better at switching between thinking about different concepts, and at thinking about multiple concepts simultaneously”
Our age of specialization has in some respects overshadowed the value of the generalist. This shouldn’t be a surprise considering the sophisticated, technological age we live in. For instance, to be a “business strategist” today requires a qualifier, signifying an expertise in a particular field, such as marketing, sales, or IT. What about the general business strategist? Isn’t this the professional who integrates all of the input of the experts? And by what technical right can this person legitimately tell an expert what to do or what not to do? David Ben-Gurion, the prime minister of Israel, who is the fourth statesmen presented in Supreme Command: Soldiers, Statesman, and Leadership in Wartime, provides an interesting and helpful perspective.
Even to this day Winston Churchill is a controversial figure in politics. Despite their debates, many of his critics admit that his wartime leadership was a crucial factor in ensuring Allied Victory in 1945. Eliot considers Churchill as the “greatest war statesman of the century.” What stands out about Churchill’s performance as key player of the Allies is Churchill’s inquisitive nature. The chapter title, “Churchill asks a Question” says it best: he questioned everything and everyone, no matter there position. When the Prime Minister wanted answers to questions, he found them one way or another.
Probably one of the greatest traps for strategic leaders is to enter the world of tactics and get stuck in there, “buried in the weeds” of everyday operations. No doubt tactics are important, but when the daily crisis dominates your everyday thinking and agenda you are not driving strategy and actualizing your ROI. A great example of a strategic leader who learned to fluctate between tactics and strategy was Georges Clemenceau, Prime Minister of France during the latter years of World War I. It was his supervision of his army that is a great lesson for any business leaders today.
Clemenceau is the second statesman in Supreme Command. The French wartime Prime Minister earned the nickname, “The Tiger”, for his force of character, unwavering focus and optimism, and for his willingness to fight for what he wanted. The Tiger had an enormous challenge as he came to power during a dire time during World War I, when victory was distant and world powers were almost bled white.
I think it is fair to say that delegation as an effective business tool is a sacrosanct notion. And why should it not be? As a strategic leader you must delegate responsibilities, at least for the very fact that the amount of goals and objectives to be achieved, to include the multitude of derivative tasks and sub-tasks, is too much for one person to handle by themselves. In this respect alone delegation makes practical sense.