[May 11, 2015] Combat is a crucible that leaves little room for making mistakes. Those who have engaged in combat with an enemy know that small unit leadership is what makes a difference because it’s about solving problems. Combat is chaos, some say “organized chaos” but nonetheless chaos, and thus it demands that decisions be made quickly with little information on which to make them.
Any time we have people in a setting with others – at work or at play – whether in family, at our job, or in any group, the dynamics require leaders to help move things forward. Leaders must keep their eye on the dynamics of that group and be on watch to ensure group members maintain the leader’s trust. Groups of people always have a goal; called tasks, missions, etc. and these require every member to contribute trust and some level of problem-solving skills.
“Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.” – Colin Powell
Colin Powell is a highly respected leader of men and women – whether in combat as an officer or in government as a civilian. He had a lot to say about leadership but his insight on leadership at the team level is particularly insightful. In this quote he noted something that seems counterintuitive. When those people we lead stop “complaining” or bringing problems to you, the leader has lost their confidence. Many leaders would not even notice and how sad is that.
Comradeship is formed in combat, of course, but also wherever people have experienced stress as part of a team. Who hasn’t been part of a group that worked hard to accomplish an important task under unusual (and stressful) circumstances? There is something about the experience that forges a bond.
The bottom-line is that leaders solve problems and they solve them in a group setting with a bond formed that is the basis of success for that group. To fail as a leader is easy, to succeed difficult. Yet the most successful of leaders know that they must use their intellect to forge a team of individuals, create a bond, and do so by solving the everyday problems that occur in any organization of people.
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