[October 23, 2016] If we were to have an official slogan for leadership it would be Follow Me! From the beginning of human existence, those who lead have inspired others to follow them to perform a task, to complete a mission, to engage the enemy on the battlefield, or to win on the playing field. It means that the leader is out front, exposed to the same risks as everyone else, if not more.
One style of leadership is leading from behind but it is nevertheless leadership. My belief is that this style is weak, generates confusion, and is less effective (see my earlier comments on it here and here). Leaders who employ follow me ideas in leadership are out front on issues/problems and have the courage to put themselves, sometimes their careers and their lives, in jeopardy.
Failure at the senior leadership level occurs less because they lack the requisite skills or experience but because of a flaw in their character. This explains, in part, why the current U.S. presidential campaign has so often been about each of the candidates’ character rather than skills or experience. The voting citizen seems to understand the difference and have largely been repulsed by one or the other of them due to perceived character problems.
While attending the U.S. Army Infantry School in 1983 (where we wore the Follow Me unit insignia and patch) I remember hearing about a study by the Israeli army on how to increase the killing power of their tank forces. After much research the conclusion was determined that the most effective way was to improve tank crew technical and leadership training. Improving the tank design, which most thought was the solution, was not a significant factor.
Whether in an Israeli tank force, in a business, in politics, or in the family, solving problems and getting the right things done right means leading from the front. Like in the U.S. Army Infantry1, individuals of good character who lead in any pursuit should be proud to adopt the Follow Me idea on leadership.
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