[February 28, 2017] An old axiom in the U.S. military is that to be the best leader possible, one must chose the right people and give them the authority and freedom to do their jobs. Choosing good people is not an easy task but is necessary to ensure the smooth functioning of any organization.
“Leadership consists of picking good men and helping them do their best.” – Admiral Chester W. Nimtz, U.S. Navy Fleet Admiral and World War II veteran
Choosing the right people means that foremost, such persons have the “character” to demonstrate ‘good’ in any situation. Secondly it means they “fit” the organization’s core values and have a history of doing so. And third, but not last, those right people must possess a positive attitude, a sense of purpose, and moral courage to do the right thing. I think these are universal traits representing goodness.
A recent example to illustrate this is the newly appointed U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations: Nikki Haley. She has good character, is a fit for the new president Donald Trump, and possesses the right universal traits for the position. A few days ago she addressed the media after attending her first Security Council meeting on the Middle East issues. She said that the council is supposed to discuss how to maintain international peace and security … “but it focused on criticizing Israel, the only true democracy in the region.”1
Of course, picking the right people is not just for successful military missions but the concept works for any human endeavor; whether it be a private business, scientific discovery team, choosing a political leader, or even marriage. Sometimes, due to circumstances beyond our control, we are not able to choose but that is rare.
That is typically a condition of junior leadership positions and then it is incumbent upon them to improve upon the hand they are dealt; a test of their leadership skills. I’ve never heard of any circumstance where a more senior leader is prohibited from making choices about those within their organization. Although there will be realistic restrictions due to time, money, and available personnel; senior leaders at least can pick some, if not all, of their immediate staff.
Experienced senior leaders rarely fail catastrophically. The reason is that their relevant experience has demonstrated that they have done a good job of choosing the right people to support the organization. It works and it works well when the right individuals support a leader.; an unforgettable lesson.
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