Gung Ho Leadership

By | December 3, 2018

[December 3, 2018]  About ten years ago, a little-known book made a splash in business management circles.  The reason, I believe, was because the book’s theme was that managers must learn to be leaders if they plan on getting anything of value accomplished.

Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles wrote the book titled, “Gung Ho! Turn on the People in Any Organization”, 1997.  Like me, they proclaim that Gung Ho leadership is an invaluable tool that provides managers with methods to increase productivity bypromoting good morale in the workplace.

Back when I was a buck Private in the army, my low-ranking friends and I were quick to dismiss anyone who had been in the military more than a couple of years.  “Lifer” was the derogatory term we used to refer to soldiers who showed any gung ho behaviors.  Fortunately, that attitude left me later and is rare these days.  Today, you are more likely to find gung ho leadership in the military than in the past few decades.

Why gung ho leadership?  I think the answer has its seeds in the Vietnam War.  Those who were privates and second lieutenants at the time saw for themselves what low morale, low standards, and an aversion to discipline did to the average military trooper and their mission.  Things were bad and these junior soldiers swore they would do something about it.

Since Vietnam, those privates and lieutenants have now gone to retirement, but they left the service as Sergeants Majors and Generals.  They were able to bring another dimension that the U.S. military needed badly.  Call it esprit de corps, comradeship, fighting spirit, or simply gung ho; the attitude to get ‘er done became pervasive to a military that needed a kick in the butt.

Gung Ho leadership was back after many decades.  It means, at its very core, to motivate others.  People have many layers and levels of self-motivation but there is nothing like external motivation to help improve your performance at home, work, or play.  Being an external motivator is the main trait of leaders known as gung ho leaders.

I first met these gung ho leaders back in 1974 as a Private (the lowest rank in the military).  These were mid-grade sergeants who had all seen combat in Vietnam and wanted to instill motivation in us “newbies” so that we wouldn’t make the same mistakes they had.

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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

21 thoughts on “Gung Ho Leadership

    1. Ed Berkmeister

      Yep! That’s why I keep coming back. Although, I think it’s okay for us to make recommendations on topics or even write some too. What does everyone think?

  1. Bryan Lee

    Waking up early this Monday morning, waiting for the bus to take me into work and reading your blog on my iPhone. Nice job, Gen. Satterfield. I’ll be showing this article to my lame boss. But I won’t tell him I consider him ‘lame.’

  2. Bill Sanders, Jr.

    Like so many people who grew up in a rural area of the US (but could be any country), I was a bit shy around people of the city because they knew so much more than me. At least that is what I was told was the case. I learned over time that I knew right from wrong and they just knew “stuff”. I’m better off because growing up I had teachers who were gung ho leaders and push me hard to do good for others. That made the difference. Those kind of teachers cannot survive in city schools.

    1. Willie Shrumburger

      Right! Gung ho teachers won’t make it in a city school because there is too much PC ideology in education today. You have to coddle the students and teachers are no longer allowed to punish. Most schools no longer even allow homework to be assigned because it might ‘shame’ those who fail to do the work.

  3. Martin Shiell

    Wow, gung ho leaders have motivated me too. That helped me more than I can even understand. My point is that I did some really great things in my life that I would not have done without them.

    1. Tony B. Custer

      I have to agree with you that leaders push people (or pull depending on your perspective) into doing the right things. That’s what we should expect of them and those I know, delivered.

    2. Ronny Fisher

      You bet, Martin. Today, however, things have changed outside the military and very successful orgs. Now people see themselves in light of their skin color or gender. Hard work, being helpful & courteous, and staying out of legal trouble is no longer important.

  4. Fred Weber

    Hey man, cool article about gung ho leadership. I wish I’d been in the military to have witenssed it. I’m sure it’s not the same just watching it occur on tv. Anyway, thanks for a great article.

  5. Lynn Pitts

    As I look back over my life and think of those who made the biggest different in what I did and didn’t do, it was the gung ho leaders that I ran into during that time. They made me who I am today and I’m proud of it.

  6. Drew Dill

    I too joined the US Army at the end of the Vietnam War and was fortunate to meet some of the greatest NCOs that help me immnesely to get my s*** together. I didn’t like them at the time and, in fact, thought they were cruel. Ultimately, I came to understand they had my best interests at heart. I’m glad they helped me understand that being strong and a good soldier is important.

    1. Lady Hawk

      Good point, Drew. Always good for me to read your stories. 🙂

  7. Army Captain

    As usual, you hit the nail on the head with your blog today. Thanks. Also, I concur with Janna that I also enjoyed your guest blogger weekend.

  8. Janna Faulkner

    BTW, great weekend of guest bloggers as I enjoyed all of them. Of course, Army Vet is a regular contributor but all were worth the reading.

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