Leaders Reinforce Success

By | March 16, 2016

[March 16, 2016]  As a young military officer I was curious why I was told that one of the keys to winning on the battlefield meant that leaders always reinforce success.  In the U.S. Civil War, Union General George Meade failed to pursue the Confederate forces after the latter lost at the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863.  That failure to reinforce the success after the most famous battle in American history meant, at least in part, the bloody war would continue for almost another two years.

In the 1980s we were taught on how classical land forces maneuvered in the defense while our air forces attacked rear-echelon enemy forces.  This was known as AirLand Battle and was the U.S. military’s European warfighting framework from 1982 to the late 1990s.  As a member of the Infantry we were told that while defending against an attacking enemy to never allow a breakthrough of our lines, else reserve units will not come to your rescue; they were reinforcing successful actions elsewhere.

Reinforcing success has always been a fundamental principle of a successful military. From time immemorial, battles were won because of the bravery of soldiers and intelligence of their leaders but also on the fact that when success is reinforced; the scale of the victory is magnified many times over when success is reinforced.

Like in the military, businesses that focus on improving on their accomplishments and doing away with their failures are those most likely to succeed in the long term. When Walt Disney created the cartoon Steamboat Willie (with Mickey Mouse), he was unsure if the public was ready for a short animated film with synchronized sound. Not only did it receive tremendous critical acclaim it meant Disney would produce even more cartoons, with increasing levels of technical sophistication; he was reinforcing success.

Leadership means understanding this principle. It doesn’t mean that we should never give our attention to those within our ranks who are failure or poor performers, but that we ought to give our greatest attention to those who help us succeed. No wonder schools give scholarships to their best students; they are reinforcing success.

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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

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

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