Apr 14 2009
Leadership at the Point of the Bayonet
By now I’m guessing that if you have any interest at all in World War II that you’ve seen the HBO mini series Band of BrothersÂ created by Tom Hanks and Steven Speilberg. If you haven’t then I strongly encourage you to do so. The series was based on the Stephen Ambrose book of the same name.Â I have seen the film several times and recently read the book. It’s worth doing both.
One of the primary sources for the Band of Brothers book was Dick Winters. In the aftermath of the mini series he penned his own version of events in the book Beyond Band of Brothers. There’s a lot of overlap between the Winters book and the Ambrose book, of course, but Winters offers a different perspective on some of the Band of Brothers events. Ambrose focused on the enlisted man’s view mostly. Winters brings in the wider picture he had as an officer and unit commander. To my mind it adds some nice depth and color to the story of Easy Company.
At the end of Beyond, Winters has included some of his thoughts on leadership. He was very highly regarded by those who served under him, so clearly there is something worth absorbing. To that end, Winters presents what he calls “Leadership at the Point of the BayonetÂ - Ten Principles for Success”. Those principles are:
1 )Â Strive to be a leader of character, competence, and courage.
2 ) Lead from the front. Say, “Follow me!” and then lead the way.
3 ) Stay in top physical shape – physical stamina is the root of mental toughness.
4 ) Develop your team. If you know your people, are fair in setting realistic goals and expectations, and lead by example, you will develop teamwork.
5 ) Delegate responsibility to your subordinates and let them do their jobs. You can’t do a good job if you don’t have a chance to use your imagination or your creativity.
6 ) Anticipate problems and prepare to overcome obstacles. Don’t wait until you get to the top of the ridge then make up your mind.
7 ) Remain humble. Don’t worry about who receives the credit. Never let power or authority go to your head.
8 ) Take a moment for self-reflection. Look at yourself in the mirror every night and ask yourself if you did your best.
9 ) True satisfaction comes from getting the job done. The key to a successful leader is to earn respect – not because of rank or position, but because you are a leader of character.
10 ) Hang tough! – Never, ever, give up.Â
Based on my own leadership experience, I can’t disagree at all with anything said here.
Here are some other posts which might interest you:
- Book Review: The Way of Zen
- Go ahead and fix the blame, later
- When Genius Failed Again
- Gold Looks A Couple Weeks Away From A Big Move
- Speculators to Blame for Run Up in Oil? Hmmm…