Leadership Means being at the Tip of the Spear

By | December 28, 2018

[December 28, 2018]  No one wants to get into ugly controversies.  I know of no one who does.  But leadership means being at the tip of the spear and consciously deciding to make difficult choices; even when the popular mood advises against it.

“We take and must continue to take morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization.” – Reinhold Niebuhr, American theologian, ethicist, and professor

Only strong, resilient leaders can be at the tip of the spear; trailblazing, making hard decisions, and surviving to fight another time.  This is real leadership.  Taking on difficult problems, carefully studying them, and making informed decisions is what leadership is all about.  Anyone can make an easy decision.  It takes strength, agility, resilience, and assertiveness to be on the frontlines of any organization to make hard choices that work.

Only those with the relevant experiences and toughness of mind can get out ahead of a problem with a workable solution.  Leaders who make tough decisions, do so promptly; not waiting for a moment that may never come.  Only they will be the ones people look to in times of crisis and difficulty.

If leaders chose not to act, they will fail.  By going where no one has gone before puts a leader where their inherent responsibility rests.  Fear, moral or physical fear, holds back too many leaders from doing their due diligence.  When others are cowering in the background, anyone with the courage who steps forward is a leader.  These are the people we will always respect and admire.

Like the Infantry leader who says “follow me” to attack the enemy in the face of grave danger, so too do true leaders who are willing to put themselves at risk.  Being at the tip of the spear is dangerous, fraught with unknowns (known and unknown), laden with suspense and intrigue, and can never be disguised as simple or easy.

I’ve been fortunate to personally know senior leaders who were there when great leadership was necessary.  History is full of the stories of these men and women – some I’ve captured in this blog – who were there when their nation needed them.  They are saluted for their courage and strength.  And, they are admired for their spirit.

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.

18 thoughts on “Leadership Means being at the Tip of the Spear

  1. Eric Coda

    Timely, informative, entertaining article. Thanks Gen. Satterfield for bringing this up. TGIF for everyone. Enjoy the upcoming weekend.

    1. Willie Shrumburger

      I agree, great article. I’d heard of this concept before but didn’t have a comlete understanding.

  2. The Kid 1945

    I always wondered what this meant. I guess that there is some thrill also to be at the tip of the, so called, spear. You are the ‘point man,’ the guy/gal who is out front and taking chances. Wow. If only ….. No one who hasn’t been there should complain. Go there and be that person. Start something good for your community and do the hard work required. Then, you will see what it’s like. No complaints from this end. Those people who are at the tip of the spear have my full respect.

  3. Tracey Brockman

    If you want to read what real men who are at the tip of spear are thinking and doing, then read the following U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) newsletter which is unclassified. You will probably get a ‘certificate error’ from your browser like most military website do (remember that Microsoft people are anti-military). Anyway, here is the link. Go there. Enjoy.

  4. Doug Smith

    From the Urban Dictionary:
    tip of the spear
    An American idiom commonly used in military operations to mean the first soldiers to go into a war zone.
    In common usage it means the first to venture into a new endeavor. A trailblazer.

    1. Jerome Smith

      Good definition. Most folks have no idea what we are talking about when discussing this concept. Why? Simple, they are never at the tip of the spear and will never be. They look upon those who are, and wonder.

    2. Lady Hawk

      It’s like ‘freedom’ to be at the tip of the spear. No one else is there. Exilerating.

  5. Army Captain

    How very true. Leaders will always be at the ‘tip of the spear.’

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