Wise Leadership Requires Collaboration

By | September 23, 2019

[September 23, 2019]  Planning for the Allied invasion of the European mainland on June 6, 1944 to overthrow the Nazi regime began many months before the landings at Normandy, France.  This was to begin the greatest military assault in history.  For everything to work, however, it required tremendous collaboration among the Allies.

The magnitude of the invasion and follow-on military effort staggers the imagination.  It included air, ground, and sea forces of more than 20 nations, including the French underground.  It integrated a herculean logistical effort, reconnaissance, weapons’ redesign, mapping, intense secrecy, and deception.  The requirement to destroy the German war machine required the combined efforts of many nations.

The success of the collaboration resulted in a stunned enemy and a surprised world on D-Day.  Lessons from previous landings from Dunkirk, Dieppe, North Africa, Sicily, Anzio, and many others were integrated into the planning effort.  It was complex and no one knew for sure if success would be achieved.  But it worked.

“Everything proceeded according to plan.  And what a plan!” – Prime Minister Winston Churchill commenting on the D-Day invasion

Collaboration was the key to making this effort possible and it was Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower who was selected to pull it all together.  Collaboration is no easy task even when everyone agrees upon the mission and strategy.  Every stakeholder will have strong views on “how” plans are designed and carried out and each has a different cultural-historical view of it.

The first and most important thing Gen. Eisenhower did was to build trust among the many Allies.  Today, we look back and give Eisenhower’s effort a quick comment in passing but the success on the battlefield was the result of the incredibly complex job of gaining the trust of senior-level leaders that intrinsically did not trust one another and among many who hated each other.

Collaboration is what makes leadership.  It is a rare leader who can pull people together to agree upon a common goal, decide what to do and when to do it, and then orchestrate a combined effort to get things done.  In the First Gulf War Coalition there were 35 nations and more than 90 nations in the Iraq War.  Cultures do clash and language barriers accelerate misunderstandings, it is a wonder that WWII for any war since produced a successful outcome.

For many decades to come, these wars will be studied to learn how allies and coalitions were created and held together.  That lesson should never be lost.

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.

24 thoughts on “Wise Leadership Requires Collaboration

  1. Andrew Dooley

    Excellent. One would think this idea would be obvious but “NO”, the average person may intellectually know this but application is a complete other matter. Well done!

  2. Dennis Mathes

    I like the way you worked in Gen. Eisenhower and his efforts for the invasion of Europe to kick out the Nazi military.

  3. Army Captain

    Spot-on analysis of the importance of collaboration and the effort need to ensure it works.

    1. Darwin Lippe

      You got that right. This is a necessary article that points to what almost everyone overlooks in foreign relations. It’s not ‘we are better than you, join us,’ but ‘join us and we all stand taller.’ Thanks Army Captain. Good to see you on Gen. Satterfield’s website this morning.

  4. Dale Paul Fox

    We should never lose site of the main point here; that trust must be built properly and extensively before any real collaboration can be undertaken. This takes time and resources. Never forget.

    1. Willie Shrumburger

      TRUST takes an enormous amount of resources, far more than the average man has available. That is one of the reasons leadership, especially senior leadership, is so difficult. It is hard to have a balanced life and be a senior leader. The family is sacrificed as well as one’s health. Let’s be careful about that.

  5. Bart Rhodes

    An understatement from the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill about the invasion. “What a plan!”

  6. JT Patterson

    Good idea to bring in the D-Day invasion and subsequent battles across Europe as a way of showing how collaboration works, if done correctly. What is not said is that the difficulty to make this happen is beyond the imagination of most of us.

    1. Yusaf from Texas

      Good point, JT. Most people do not know that the skill level of those in the upper-most levels of leadership is far superior to what the rest of us have. We sometimes say they made a stupid mistake but in reality they are far smarter, more experienced, more educated, and down right driven internally than we will ever be.

      1. Tracey Brockman

        This is a spot-on comment, Yusaf. And we don’t realize it because we lack the experience and opportunity.

    2. Bill Sanders, Jr.

      Thanks also JT. You have hit upon a point I keep making to my peers at work. We have no idea the effort it takes to succeed as a senior leader (unless you’ve been there, done that). To say otherwise is, frankly, stupidity at its best.

      1. Danny Burkholder

        Same here Bill. I too make these points at work. My co-workers are often surprise at what I come up with each day. I have this website as my surprise.

  7. Albert Ayer

    Excellent ideas that got me to thinking. First, collaboration is most noted for work at the national level. Second, it is – as noted below – also workable at the individual level. That is where, I propose, the original idea came from. We are, inherently, social beings. Anything short of that makes us weaker.

    1. Scotty Bush

      I was thinking the same thing, Albert. You beat me to the punch with your comment. Let’s figure out ways to make collaboration work for us. Everyone wins. It’s one of those situations that everyone comes out ahead. That is why humans are inherently social animals.

  8. Kenny Foster

    Interesting take on the idea of collaboration. We all know it is necessary for success. Sometimes we call it networking or just having friends who will help. This is why those who succeed, do so because they have people around them that will help. This is the pure definition of what is ‘good’; those things that make us all better persons and more reliable and responsible. Well done here in this article. I know it applies to nations but the idea applies all the way down to the individual level also. Let’s not forget that.

    1. Jung Hoon Kim

      Good to write this Mr. Foster. I think you are about what is good and that is the way of the most happy man.

      1. Eva Easterbrook

        Good to see you back to making comments. We hope you have been well. ?

    2. Shawn C. Stolarz

      Well said, Kenny! I agree that this may influence the idea of what is ‘good’ and what is ‘bad.’ Many believe that the ideas of good and bad are simply socially constructed. While that has some truth in it, the fact is that it also has the origins of mankind built into it too.

    1. Greg Heyman

      Yes, I agree and more. This is the very type of article I look forward to each day.

    2. Otto Z. Zuckermann

      Yes, without my daily dose of leadership at https://www.theleadermaker.com, I’m not sure I would be as successful at work and at home. My wife continues to enjoy our relationship because I’m better at communicating what I want and what is best for us all. She has caught on and now reads this site also. Thanks all !!!!!

      1. Tomas Clooney

        Same here, Otto. All the best to you and your wife. I hope that you continue to be in our group of commentators. Most make a big difference to add to my understanding of the website. Gen. Satterfield tries to be brief but sometimes the meat is cut before the fat.

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