The Minute Book
Monday, 28 September 2015

Dark Leadership
Topic: Leadership

Dark Leadership

Dark Leadership in the Ranks: How the U.S. Armed Forces Can Address Narcissism and Toxic Leadership, by David J. Boisselle and Jeanne McDonnell, 2014

"At one point or another in your career, you will work for a jackass, because we all have. People who are terrible to their subordinates may be perfectly civil and respectful up the chain of command." – Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates [speaking to] West Point cadets.

Retired Army Lt. General Walter Ulmer served as the chief executive officer for the Center for Creative Leadership and has written about the problem of toxic leadership in the Army. Additionally, he compiled the following observations which toxic leaders frequently display:

  • They rarely take blame or share glory.
  • They are not toxic all the time, or to all people.
  • They are rarely if ever toxic when in the company of "the boss."
  • They sometimes have good ideas and accomplish good things.
  • They can be charming when the occasion fits.
  • They are frequently described as extremely bright and hard-working.
  • They often have a coterie of devoted "fans" who keep appearing on their staffs.
  • Most have been seen as toxic by subordinates since early in their career.
  • Their boss either does not know or pretends not to know, and almost never records, their abuse of subordinates.

Through interviews, surveys, literature, as well as reviews of numerous real-life cases, General Ulmer summarized that "Toxic leaders are individuals whose behavior appears driven by self-centered careerism at the expense of their subordinates and unit, and whose style is characterized by abusive and dictatorial behavior that promotes an unhealthy organizational climate." It is interesting to note that the first part of General Ulmer's definition noted toxic leaders are "driven by self-centered careerism." This supports studies of toxic leadership completed by retired Army veterans Joe Doty and Jeff Fenlason which found most, if not all, toxic leaders suffer from narcissism.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 25 September 2015

Basic Philosophy of Soldiering
Topic: Leadership

Colonel Glover Johns
Basic Philosophy of Soldiering


Col. Glover S. Johns Jr.

1.     Strive to do small things well.

2.      Be a doer and a self-starter—aggressiveness and initiative are two most admired qualities in a leader—but you must also put your feet up and THINK.

3.      Strive for self-improvement through constant self-evaluation.

4.      Never be satisfied. Ask of any project, How can it be done better?

5.      Don't over-inspect or over-supervise. Allow your leaders to make mistakes in training, so they can profit from the errors and not make them in combat.

6.      Keep the troops informed; telling them "what, how, and why" builds their confidence.

7.      The harder the training, the more troops will brag.

8.      Enthusiasm, fairness, and moral and physical courage - four of the most important aspects of leadership.

9.      Showmanship—a vital technique of leadership.

10.      The ability to speak and write well-two essential tools of leadership.

11.      There is a salient difference between profanity and obscenity; while a leader employs profanity (tempered with discretion), he never uses obscenities.

12.      Have consideration for others.

13.      Yelling detracts from your dignity; take men aside to counsel them.

14.      Understand and use judgement; know when to stop fighting for something you believe is right. Discuss and argue your point of view until a decision is made, and then support the decision wholeheartedly.

15.      Stay ahead of your boss.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 23 September 2015

10 Diseases of Leadership
Topic: Leadership

Richard Holmes'
'10 Diseases of Leadership'

A Sandhurst Guide, Pilot version, Easter 2012

Brigadier Edward Richard Holmes, CBE, TD, JP
(29 Mar 1946 – 30 Apr 2011

1.     Lack of moral courage. In the military physical courage is often supported by the sense of team and shared commitment to a specific task. Moral courage is often a far lonelier position and so that much harder to undertake in practice.

2.     Failure to recognize that opposition can be loyal. Encourage constructive dissent rather than have destructive consent.

3.     Consent and evade. Do not consent to a plan that you do not agree with then evade its implications by doing something different without telling your commander.

4.     There is a need to know and you don't need to know. Some people use information and access to it to reinforce their leadership position.

5.     Don't bother me with the facts I've already made up my mind. There is always a point where the detail of a plan is confi rmed, after which there is a tendency to ignore any new information that might suggest a change to that plan is required. The British as a people have a greater tendency than most to succumb to this.

6.     The quest for the 100% solution. A good plan in time is better than a great plan too late.

7.     Equating the quality of the advice with the rank of the person providing it. Wisdom and insight are not linked inextricably to rank and experience.

8.     I'm too busy to win. Failure to exploit opportunities that arise by being focused on routine work.

9.     I can do your job too. Avoid the temptation to slip back into your old comfort zones. It will smother subordinates.

10.     Big man, cold shadow. Consider the effect of your presence and involvement in a task. Will it help or hinder?

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Qualities of the Leader
Topic: Leadership

Qualities of the Leader

Leadership, Courtesy and Drill, War Department, Washington, February 1946

Ridicule, sarcasm, and insulting remarks create resentment and should never be employed. Surliness and uncontrolled anger indicate lack of poise and selfcontrol, often concealing inability and lack of knowledge.


A leader is self-confident and commands his subordinates. He is not arrogant, nor does he look down upon subordinates as inferiors lacking in intelligence, in self-respect, or in the desire to do their share. The leader must possess the soldierly qualities of obedience, loyalty, neat8ness, precision, self-control, endurance, courage, and coolness in the face of danger in a sufficiently high degree to be a fitting example to his men. Mutual respect and loyalty are essential in a team.


Successful practical experience gives the leader confidence in himself and inspires it in his men. Intelligence and knowledge derived from the experience of others may serve as substitutes initially, but handling men is an art developed through experience. It is the duty of all leaders to afford their subordinates opportunities to practice leadership, and to encourage suboirdinate leaders to solve their own problems by giving them maximum responsibility for their units, subject only to necessary supervision. Inexperienced leaders may ask the advice of their superiors, experienced subordinates, and other experienced leaders, but they should not depend on others to make their decisions for them. The decisions and the responsibility should be theirs alone.

Relationship With Subordinates.

a.     The leader should adopt a sensible and natural attitude in dealing with his subordinates. It is always a grave mistake for a leader to try to gain popularity by undue familiarity, coddling, or currying favor, because it is an inescapable fact that intimate association between leaders and those they lead tends to destroy discipline and lower prestige. In the interests of good discipline, officers are required to wear a distinctive uniform, to live apart from the men, and to confine their social contacts in the Army to other officers. This age-old distinction prevails in all armies. Enlisted men understand and appreciate the reasons and necessities which prevent undue familiarity with their leaders and have little but contempt for the officer or soldier who, forgetting his own place, deliberately crosses the dividing line reserved for the other. The wise leader will walk the thin line between friendship and familiarity, and at the same time be parent, brother, and father-confessor to his men. It has been said that "a good leader has the patience of Job, the loyalty of Jonathan, and Martha's willingness to serve." However, this is never a one-sided relationship, because experience has shown that if the leader will take care of his men, they'll take care of him.

b.     It is important that a commander keep himself accessible at all times to the men of his unit. Thoughtful consideration must be given to complaints. The man who makes a complaint thinks he has suffered an injustice. If he has, the-fault should be remedied; if not, his faulty impressions should be corrected at once. In this way no grievances, real or imaginary, will be allowed to develop.

Decisiveness, Initiative, Resourcefulness.

a.     The unexpected is always a test of leadership. The ability to grasp the facts in a situation quickly and to initiate prompt intelligent action is invaluable. A clear understanding of the objective to be attained will usually guide a leader to a sound decision.

b.     Decisiveness is of great importance. Indecision, or hasty decisions which must be changed, destroy confidence. Stubborn adherence to faulty decisions creates resentment, while frank admission of error with prompt corrective action inspires respect and confidence.

c.     In some situations, action may be necessary which is beyond the scope of the leader's authority or contrary to his orders. In such circumstances, he reports the situation to his superior with his recommendations, or, when the urgency warrants it, takes action himself and reports his actions to his superior as soon as possible. Soldiers unite quickly behind 'a leader who meets a new and unexpected situation with prompt action.

d.     New situations and absence of means due to enemy action or other cause demand resourcefulness in a leader. Military supply, organization, and training are designed to meet all normally expected situations, but sometimes fail under combat conditions. Inactivity or passive acceptance of an unsatisfactory situation because of lack of normal means or ways of dealing with it are never justified.


Thoughtfulness includes the forethought essential to planning and such qualities in relations with others as courtesy, consideration, sympathy, and understanding.

a.     Proper planning is essential to the success of any mission, whether in training or in combat. The welfare of the men is an important element in all plans, second only to the accomplishment of the mission.

b.     Courtesy is discussed in chapter 3.

c.     A leader's consideration for his men, like the spirit of obedience, is ever present. It reveals itself in 'many little ways, such as letting them be at ease during explanations at drill, insuring that they get hot meals on marches or in combat, taking advantage of lulls to let them rest or sleep, commending work well done, and understanding and discussing with them their points of view and their individual problems.

d.     Sympathy should be intelligent. It should not encourage men to shirk, feel sorry for themselves, or rebel. It should not produce that familiarity which breeds contempt or lack of respect. It should not blind the leader or his men to the realization that orders must be obeyed even when the reasons for them are not understood, that hardships are to be expected and must be endured, and that the impossible may have to be attempted and achieved.

Justice and Impartiality

a.     Everyone resents injustice and favoritism. In assigning duties, recognizing merit, granting privileges, or awarding punishment, the leader must be just and impartial. He must be accessible, willing to listen to and investigate complaints, and prompt in taking corrective action when necessary.

b.     Commendation is more effective than criticism, but indiscriminate praise reduces the value of commendation, and failure to point out faults is unjust. An incompetent subordinate should be removed, but the leader should not condemn him until he has pointed out his errors to him and given him a chance to correct them, unless it is clearly obvious that to do otherwise would threaten the success of a unit's mission.

c.     To accept slipshod performance as satisfactory is to court disaster in battle. Likewise, to accept willing, competent performance without recognizing it with commendation or other reward is a serious neglect that ultimately produces discouragement and destroys that willingness which is an essential element of obedience.

Additional Qualities

a.     There are other positive qualities which create respect. These are honesty, truthfulness, decency, dependability, and sincerity. Possession of these create self-reliance and engender self-respect. Many attributes, such as sincerity, enthusiasm, friendliness, and good humor, are invaluable to a leader; these should be natural and not forced or exaggerated. If not inherent, they can be acquired over a period of time by observation of others and thoughtful application of the results of this observation to one's needs.

b.     Dissolute habits must be avoided and undesirable traits of character must be corrected. Immorality, obscenity, drunkenness, gambling, and continued indebtedness undermine morale fiber and destroy the will as well as being outward indications of self-degradation. Ridicule, sarcasm, and insulting remarks create resentment and should never be employed. Surliness and uncontrolled anger indicate lack of poise and self-control, often concealing inability and lack of knowledge.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 16 September 2015 12:08 AM EDT
Sunday, 13 September 2015

Toxic Leadership (Ulmer)
Topic: Leadership

Toxic Leadership

Toxic Leadership: What Are We Talking About?, by LTG Walter F. Ulmer, Jr. (US ARmy Retired), ARMY, June 2012.

The U.S. Army War College study, "Leadership Lessons at Division Command Level-2010: A Review of Division Commander Leader Behaviors and Organizational Climates in Selected Army Divisions after Nine Years of War," surveyed and interviewed 183 officers from four divisions just returning from deployment in Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom. The study summarized officer views of toxic leaders as "self-serving, arrogant, volatile, and opinionated to the point of being organizationally dysfunctional … very persuasive, responsive, and accommodating to their seniors." In those interviews, the report continued, "it seemed clear that officers were not describing the 'tough but fair,' or even the 'oversupervisor,' or the 'not really good with people,' or even the 'rarely takes tactical initiative.'" These officers' perceptions make a discernible, important distinction between tough and toxic. An assessment of a leader as inferior or even unsatisfactory based on decision-making inadequacies, clumsy interpersonal skills or lack of drive did not automatically label him as toxic. It is also possible to "make tough, sound decisions on time," "see the big picture [and] provide context and perspective," and "get out of the headquarters and visit the troops"—the top behaviors of a highly regarded senior leader as reported in a 2004 division commander study—and still be conspicuously toxic as judged by a majority of subordinates. In other words, while all toxic officers are ultimately poor leaders, not all poor leaders are toxic. The forthcoming version of Army Doctrine Publication 6-22, Army Leadership notes, "Toxic leadership is a combination of self-centered attitudes, motivations and behaviors that have adverse effects on subordinates, the organization and mission performance." A recent study on ethical behavior by the Army Center of Excellence for the Professional Military Ethic, "ACPME Technical Report 2010-01: MNF-I Excellence in Character and Ethical Leadership (EXCEL) Study," stated, "The Army should develop leaders who understand the line between being firm … and being abusive; and identify and separate those found to be abusive." Identify and separate are the important words.

A proposed definition: Toxic leaders are individuals whose behavior appears driven by self-centered careerism at the expense of their subordinates and unit, and whose style is characterized by abusive and dictatorial behavior that promotes an unhealthy organizational climate. Other observations about toxic leaders from surveys, interviews and literature—most derived from research and discussions about senior leaders or managers—are:

  • They rarely take blame or share glory.
  • They are not toxic all the time, or to all people.
  • They are rarely if ever toxic when in the company of "the boss."
  • They sometimes have good ideas and accomplish good things.
  • They can be charming when the occasion fits.
  • They are frequently described as extremely bright and hard-working.
  • They often have a coterie of devoted "fans" who keep appearing on their staffs.
  • Most have been seen as toxic by subordinates since early in their career.
  • Their boss either does not know or pretends not to know, and almost never records, their abuse of subordinates.

elipsis graphic

Two of the categories used in data collected from selected CGSC and War College student samples during 1996–2010Estimates in population
Essentially transformational: Inspirational, encouraging, puts mission and troops first; coaches, builds teams and a healthy climate; sets high standards for self and others; generates and reciprocates trust.30–50 percent
Essentially toxic: Alienates and abuses subordinates; creates a hostile climate; often rules by fear; rejects bad news; seen as self-serving and arrogant; is skillful in upward relationships; usually bright, energetic and technically competent.8–10 percent

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 13 September 2015 12:08 AM EDT
Monday, 7 September 2015

On the Psychology of Military Incompetence
Topic: Leadership

On the Psychology of Military Incompetence

A Sandhurst Guide, Pilot version, Easter 2012

Norman Dixon's book [On the Psychology of Military Incompetence] looks at incompetence in military leaders throughout history and considers whether, rather than being random occurrences, they are, in fact, a result of the military system. In particular he considers whether people with certain psychological characteristics are drawn to a military career, and whether the military insulates and exacerbates these characteristics in them.

Some might feel that Dixon's study has little relevance to the British military of today, with much of his evidence drawn from the characters and experience of the late-Victorian and Edwardian army. He bases many of his hypotheses on the mostly public school background of military officers, theories that perhaps require revision in an age when the demographic of officer candidates is considerably broader. Modern military readers might also struggle to relate to Dixon's fascination with the issue of toilet-training and its influence on character, as well as his perception of military men inevitably being the progeny of distant, disciplinarian parents and affection-starved childhoods.

If one persists, there is much in Dixon's book that remains applicable to the British military today. Most military readers are likely to find something of themselves in his examples. His assertion that the institutional culture of the military breeds an intellectual conservatism, resulting in dangerous 'group-think', should serve as a warning to all military leaders. He also cautions against military leaders becoming so invested in their own plan that their mind fi lters information, accepting that which reinforces their perception of a situation, but discarding that which doesn't. Dixon draws attention to the military need for order and discipline, suggesting that this conditions military minds to comfortable certainties, despite disorder and uncertainty being the prevailing characteristics of the battlefi eld. He also argues that most military failures result not from being too bold, but from not being bold enough, and that the higher a military leader rises in rank the more they are motivated by fear of failure, rather than hope of success, resulting in a reduced willingness to take risks.

Dixon's book is also very useful in helping to understand how the culture, values, and ethos of British military leadership have emerged from a largely amateur tradition. He divides leaders into two broad types, task-specialists, concerned principally with output, and social specialists concerned principally with the maintenance of harmony and cohesion in a group. Dixon considers the phenomenon of how some of Britain's most incompetent military leaders were still loved by their men, despite leading them to slaughter. He concludes that, although poor task specialists, they were excellent social specialists, with reputations, often made as junior leaders, for being brave and caring. Principally, their incompetence resulted from being promoted beyond their capability.

Obviously, the ideal military leader is both a task and social specialist, and reading Dixon's book, the reader will no doubt see how much more output-related modern military leadership has become. Never-the-less the book challenges the reader to look at some of the cultural attitudes that do persist in our military today and ask if they are still relevant. Is it still important that our leaders are gentlemen, or have a 'sense of otherness'? Given the much improved educational standard of our soldiers, can we still assume that the leader is more knowledgeable than those he leads, and if not should this result in a less autocratic, and more cooperative style of leadership?

This is a challenging and informative book that should be read with an open mind. It highlights some uncomfortable truths about the military psychology and the dangers inherent in the military culture for decision-making and leadership, and provides useful warnings to be heeded from its negative historical examples.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Topic: Leadership


ARDP 6-22—Army Leadership, Headquarters Department of the Army, Wahington, August 2012

Foundations of Army Leadership Character

Character, comprised of a person's moral and ethical qualities, helps determine what is right and gives a leader motivation to do what is appropriate, regardless of the circumstances or consequences. An informed ethical conscience consistent with the Army Values strengthens leaders to make the right choices when faced with tough issues. Army leaders must embody these values and inspire others to do the same.

Character is essential to successful leadership. It determines who people are, how they act, helps determine right from wrong, and choose what is right. Elements internal and central to a leader's core are:—

  • Army Values.
  • Empathy.
  • Warrior Ethos and Service Ethos.
  • Discipline.

Army Values

Soldiers and Army Civilians enter the Army with personal values developed in childhood and nurtured over years of personal experience. By taking an oath to serve the nation and the institution, one agrees to live and act by a new set of values—Army Values. The Army Values consist of the principles, standards, and qualities considered essential for successful Army leaders. They are fundamental to helping Soldiers and Army Civilians make the right decision in any situation. Teaching values is an important leader responsibility by creating a common understanding of the Army Values and expected standards.

The Army recognizes seven values that all Army members must develop. When read in sequence, the first letters of the Army Values form the acronym "LDRSHIP":—

  • Loyalty.
  • Duty.
  • Respect.
  • Selfless service.
  • Honor.
  • Integrity.
  • Personal courage.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 29 August 2015

Toxic Leadership
Topic: Leadership

Toxic Leadership

Toxic Leadership, Colonel George E. Reed, U.S. Army
Military Review – July–August 2004

In 2003, 20 [U.S. Army War College] students focused on the topic of command climate and leaders' roles in shaping it. The students provided a well-considered description of toxic leaders:

"Destructive leaders are focused on visible short-term mission accomplishment. They provide superiors with impressive, articulate presentations and enthusiastic responses to missions. But, they are unconcerned about, or oblivious to, staff or troop morale and/or climate. They are seen by the majority of subordinates as arrogant, self-serving, inflexible, and petty."

A loud, decisive, demanding leader is not necessarily toxic. A leader with a soft voice and façade of sincerity can also be toxic. In the end, it is not one specific behavior that deems one toxic; it is the cumulative effect of demotivational behavior on unit morale and climate over time that tells the tale. Toxic leaders might be highly competent and effective in a short-sighted sense, but they contribute to an unhealthy command climate with ramifications extending far beyond their tenure. Three key elements of the toxic leader syndrome are:—

1.     An apparent lack of concern for the wellbeing of subordinates.

2.     A personality or interpersonal technique that negatively affects organizational climate.

3.     A conviction by subordinates that the leader is motivated primarily by self-interest.

elipsis graphic

Toxic leadership, like leadership in general, is more easily described than defined, but terms like selfaggrandizing, petty, abusive, indifferent to unit climate, and interpersonally malicious seem to capture the concept. A toxic leader is poison to the unit—an insidious, slow-acting poison that complicates diagnosis and the application of an antidote. Large and complex organizations like the military should look for the phenomenon since culture and organizational policies might inadvertently combine to perpetuate it.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 13 August 2015

General Montgomery
Topic: Leadership

General Montgomery

Leadership in a Desert War: Bernard Montgomery as an Unusual Leader, by David Weir, Review of Enterprise and Management Studies, Vol. 1, No.1, November 2013

On taking command of the Eighth Army in the Western Desert on 13 August, 1942, Montgomery, who was not even a full general, only an acting lieutenant general, summoned his staff to an impromptu meeting at which he addressed them from the text of a speech that he had written out in the plane. It is one of the great speeches of history.

This is what he said:

I want first of all to introduce myself to you. You do not know me. I do not know you. But we have got to work together. Therefore we must understand each other and we must have confidence in each other. I have only been here a few hours. But from what I have seen and heard since I arrived I am prepared to say, here and now, that I have confidence in you. We will then work together as a team. And together we will gain the confidence of this great Army and go forward to final victory in Africa.

I believe that one of the first duties of a commander is to create what I call "atmosphere", and in that atmosphere his staff, subordinate commanders, and troops will live and work and fight.

I do not like the general atmosphere I find here. It is an atmosphere of doubt, of looking back to select the next place to withdraw, of loss of confidence in our ability to defeat Rommel, of desperate defence measures by reserves in preparing positions in Cairo and the Delta.

All that must cease. Let us have a new atmosphere.

… Here we will stand and fight; there will be no further withdrawal. I have ordered that all plans and instructions dealing with further withdrawal are to be burned, and at once. We will stand and fight here. If we can't stay here alive, then let us stay here dead.

Our mandate from the Prime Minister is to destroy the Axis forces in North Africa. I have seen it, written on half a sheet of note paper. And it will be done. If anyone here thinks it can't be done, let him go at once. I don't want any doubters in this party. It can be done, and it will be done, beyond any possibility of doubt.

Now I understand that Rommel is expected to attack at any moment. Excellent. Let him attack.

I would sooner it didn't come for a week, just to give me time to sort things out. If we have two weeks to prepare we will be sitting pretty. Rommel can attack as soon as he likes after that and I hope he does.

Meanwhile, we ourselves will start to plan a great offensive. It will be the beginning of a campaign which will hit Rommel and his Army right out of Africa.

… I have no intention of launching our great attack until we are completely ready. There will be pressure from many quarters to attack soon.

I will not attack until we are ready and you can rest assured on that point.

… I understand there has been a great deal of "belly-aching" out here. By "belly-aching" I mean inventing poor reasons for not doing what one has been told to do. All this will stop at once.

If anyone objects to doing what he is told then he can get out and at once. I want that made very clear right down through the Eighth Army.

What I have done is to get over to you the atmosphere in which we will now work and fight. You must see that that atmosphere permeates right down through the Eighth Army to the most junior private soldier. All the soldiers must know what is wanted. When they see it coming to pass there will be a surge of confidence throughout the Army. I ask you to give me your confidence and to have faith that what I have said will come to pass.

… The Chief-of-Staff will be issuing orders on many points very shortly and I am always available to be consulted by the senior officers of the staff. The great point to remember is that we are going to finish with this chap Rommel once and for all. It will be quite easy. There is no doubt about it.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 28 July 2015 6:08 PM EDT
Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Elements of Leadership
Topic: Leadership

Essential Elements of Leadership

From the Basic Infantry Officer Course, Phase II, Pre-Course Study Package, October 1998

Modern research shows that there is no single trait which consistently differentiates leaders from followers, except perhaps intelligence, so how do you differentiate between leaders and followers? This trait concept is perhaps best summarized by Field-Marshall Earl Wavell. In his "Soldiers and Soldiering" he re-emphasises the essential elements of leadership which are:

a.     robustness;

b.     practical sense/common sense;

c.     energy and courage;

d.     flexibility;

e.     interest and knowledge of humanity;

f.     fighting spirit;

g.     spirit of adventure — touch of gambler — takes risks; and

h.     maintains discipline and inspires devotion through:

(1)     justice;

(2)     competence and concern for welfare of men; and

(3)     attention to administration.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 16 July 2015

Taking Care of People
Topic: Leadership

Taking Care of People

Leadership for the 21st Century: Empowerment, Environment and the Golden Rule, General Dennis J. Reimer, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, 1996 Military Review Article

My leadership philosophy is very, very simple. It can be summed up in three basic points. First, if we empower people to do what is legally and morally right, there is no limit to the good we can accomplish. That is all I ask of anyone: Do what is right. Leaders must look to their soldiers and focus on the good. No soldier wakes up in the morning and says, "Okay, how am I going to screw this up today?" Soldiers want to do good and commanders should give them that opportunity. An outstanding soldier, Command Sergeant Major Richard Cayton, the former US Forces Command (FORSCOM) sergeant major, summed up a leader's responsibility this way: "Your soldiers will walk a path and they will come to a crossroad; if you are standing at the crossroad, where you belong, you can guide your soldiers to the right path and make them successful."

The second point of my leadership philosophy is to create an environment where people can be all they can be. Many soldiers enlisted und er this recruiting slogan, and we have a responsibility to assist them in developing mentally, physically, spiritually and socially to their full potential. It is essential that leaders develop the initiative of subordinates.

Our doctrine values the initiative, creativity and problem-solving ability of soldiers at all levels. Valuing these traits has always been the hallmark of America's Army. In the Civil War, General Ulysses S. Grant's instructions to Major General William T. Sherman reflect this concept: "I do not propose to lay down for you a plan of campaign. … But simply to lay down the work it is desirable to have done and leave you free to execute it in your own way." During World War II, Lieutenant General George S. Patton Jr. allowed his subordinates to be all they could be by being tolerant of their errors. He said, "Never tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity."

Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower's guidance for the invasion of Europe remains the classic example of this concept. He was told, "You will enter the continent of Europe and, in conjunction with the other United Nations, undertake operations aimed at the heart of Germany and the destruction of her armed forces."

The third point of my leadership philosophy is to treat others as you would have them treat you. A leader must have compassion-a "basic respect for the dignity of each individual; treating all with dignity and respect." This is a simple restatement of the Golden Rule—but it is a critical issue. Every soldier must feel he is being treated fairly and that you care and are making an honest attempt to ensure he or she reaches full potential. Initiative will be stifled and creativity destroyed unless soldiers feel they have been given a fair chance to mature and grow.

There is nothing extraordinary about these three points. They are very simple, but I challenge you to think about them.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 13 July 2015

Corporal Ray Sheriff
Topic: Leadership

Corporal Ray Sheriff

Quoted in To Revel in God's Sunshine; The story of the Army career of the late [Sandhurst] Academy Sergeant Major J.C. Lord, MVO, MBE, compiled by Richard Alford

John Lord went on to describe the moving circumstances in which Ray Sheriff arrived at Stalag XIB, a memory always recalled by him with great emotional strain.

elipsis graphic

In the Third Battalion, The Parachute Regiment I had a Corporal Ray Sheriff, he was a very good Corporal of great spirit, a good athlete and boxer and he had fought with the Battalion in North Africa, Sicily, Italy and Arnhem. In searching through our men and trying to get accounts of what had happened to them, I could find no trace of Corporal Sheriff.

We had been in the prison camp for three months with still no news when I heard that he was in the German reception hut and was in bad shape. I collected together what few cigarettes I could and using my pass, which enabled me to move around a little, I went to the reception hut.

I can see this long low gloomy hut now, packed with men of different nationalities. I looked around for Corporal Sheriff and eventually saw him to my far left—sitting on the floor with his head hanging down. He was dressed in some strange uniform which had been provided for him. I walked over to him and said, "Hello Corporal Sheriff, how are you getting on?" and that Corporal—three months after the battle—with no great cause to love me at all, with great dignity stood up to attention, faced me and said, "Hello Sir, it's good to hear your voice." and I realised that he was blind … this was the most harrowing experience I think of my whole life. I don't claim—I would not claim that he was saying this to me personally, but here he was for the first time after all the suffering of the past three months, and he heard a voice from the family. Even in those circumstances he felt that he was back with the family …"

Placing aside John Lord's account again, Ray Sheriff writes: "I was rather a late-comer to the camp as I dropped off at a couple of hospitals en route to see if anything could be done for my sight and to operate on my poorly leg."

"I shall never forget this day, a bitterly cold day in mid January, 1945.1 was carried into a hut by two Germans who placed me on a pile of straw on the floor of a wooden hut. I gathered from the volume of noise that the interior was pretty full and all the voices were foreign. I learned later that the majority were Polish. I felt alone, helpless and not a little frightened, and I drifted into half sleep. Suddenly I heard a voice and could I believe it was it a dream? Instinctively I stood to attention as the voice of RSM John Lord enquired about me! I honestly think that this instant proved to be the turning point for me. Life would be okay again, and I would describe my meeting on that occasion with J.C. as a life-saver."

elipsis graphic

[John Lord] went on to close his lecture with the words, "Even in those circumstances Corporal Sheriff felt that he belonged again, and he was back in the bosom of the family. Now that's soldiering, that's spirit, that's understanding. That's all the things I've been trying to say."

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Orders and Morale
Topic: Leadership

Confidence and pride in leaders must be bred by the leaders themselves.

Orders and Morale

"Morale," by Lieut.-Colonel J.G. Shillington, D.S.O., Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, Vol. XCV, February to November, 1950

Confidence and pride in leaders must be bred by the leaders themselves. All leaders from the lowest to the highest should consider the effect their orders will have on those who have to carry them out. In this connection the following principles are applicable:—

(a)     Never give an order which cannot be obeyed, and be prepared to represent your subordinate's case to your superior if such an order comes from above.

(b)     Always ensure that an order once given is obeyed. Give ample time for it to be carried out, but make sure that in due course you see for yourself with your own eyes that you have been obeyed, i.e., practise "the eye of the Master" Do not suspect disobedience or irregularities, but always exercise normal supervision and be prepared to help, i.e., "act as a watchdog not a bloodhound."

(c)     Never put your men into battle without adequate support, and let them know this. It will be remembered that Field-Marshal Montgomery stressed this particularly when he made his many addresses to the 21st Army Group before the invasion of Normandy.

(d)     Ensure that your men know the object of everything they are called on to do, be it in peace or war. A man will carry out orders more willingly, however irksome they may be, if he knows why they are given. If there is not a good reason an order should not be given.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 7 July 2015 12:11 AM EDT
Monday, 29 June 2015

Of Rice And Leadership
Topic: Leadership

Of Rice And Leadership;
Orde Wingate Trains His Cbindits

Men at War; True Stories of Heroism and Honor, Robert Barr Smith, 1997

Brigadier Mike Calvert was a Chindit, fabulous commander of one of the British long-range penetration brigades inserted deep behind Japanese lines in Burma and supplied entirely by air. He was also a disciple of Orde Wingate, the charismatic leader whose brainchild the Chindits were.

Wingate insisted on using ordinary British and Indian battalions in his Chindit units; he wanted no elite forces because he believed these rank-and-file soldiers, properly trained and led, could beat the Japanese in their own jungle. Wingate was right, as his Chindits proved, but implementing his ideas sometimes took some doing. Here is one such case, just as Mike Calvert told it to me one pleasant day in London:

The Indian companies were based around the cooking pot. They carried a huge cooking pot, which would take two and a half hours to cook the rice. So sometime midday everything had to stop while they cooked this rice. I'd seen this on the retreat from Burma. And I told Wingate this, and so he had us…we had the 3/2 Gurkhas with us, and they were pretty junior. In my column I only had one Gurkha officer who was over the age of twenty-two. I remember meeting them, and they were all twenty-one, nineteen, eighteen, so on.

And so Wingate called the battalion around, young Gurkhas sitting around the bottom, then the older Gurkhas, then the British officers were around the sides. They were shaking their heads; they didn't think Wingate could teach them anything. And Wingate took some dried sticks from out of his pack. And he showed us…this was Boy Scout stuff…after you made a fire you picked up a sufficient number of sticks for the next fire. He was ready.

And he put these sticks on the ground and he lit them with a match. He measured out some water in a normal can, waited till the water boiled, and then he took a sock out of his pocket, measured out some rice and put it in. Then he set his alarm clock for twenty minutes and he just sat there on his haunches and everybody else watched in absolute silence and then after twenty minutes he took it off and showed it to them, and then sifted it and put some salt on it.

And he took a spoon and…I was looking at the Gurkhas' faces…and he got a spoonful of rice and munched it, and a terrific smile spread across his face, and they all smiled and then he handed the can around. According to their religious customs they're not supposed to do that kind of thing, but they all took a bite. And it was all right.

So in less than an hour he had converted the whole battalion to how to move and then of course you cook your own rice and that makes all the difference in your movement and maneuver-ability. You couldn't send out small parties before. It converted the whole battalion so they could be self-reliant.

And that is what good officers call leadership.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 21 June 2015

L'Initiative des Militaires
Topic: Leadership

L'Initiative des Militaires

"L'Initiative des Militaires," Colonel F. Gory, 1909

"For the ambitious, initiative consists in seizing every opportunity to increase notoriety."

"For disciplinarians, initiative on the part of subordinates is a misconception of their duties."

"For imaginative people, initiative is the right to do anything which suddenly strikes them."

"For lazy people initiative is the right to pass all irksome duty on to their subordinates."

"For the easy-going, initiative consists in modifying to their liking any order thay may receive."

"For the timid, initiative is the right to shirk responsibility."

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 14 June 2015

Critical Requirements of a Leader
Topic: Leadership

Critical Requirements of a Leader

Leadership in the Canadian Forces, 2007

1.     A successful leader seeks and accepts responsibility and accountability.

2.     A successful leader performs effectively under stress.

3.     A successful leader correctly applies skills and knowledge.

4.     A successful leader demonstrates initiative and decisiveness.

5.     A successful leader seeks and accepts advice and constructive criticism.

6.     A successful leader inspires team spirit, performance and co-operation.

7.     A successful leader plans effectively.

8.     A successful leader communicates effectively.

9.     A successful leader supervises effectively.

10.     A successful leader delegates effectively.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 5 June 2015 1:47 PM EDT
Friday, 8 May 2015

A Short Talk With Chief Petty Officers (USN 1917)
Topic: Leadership

Summary of Points; from
"A Short Talk With Chief Petty Officers."

The Bluejacket's Manual, United States Navy, by Lieutenant Norman R. Van Der Veer, U.S. Navy, 1917

1.     You have a position in which you must have expert knowledge of every detail that applies to your branch of the profession.

2.     Your duties in training and instructing men of lower ratings are even more important than your duties in connection with the matériel.

3.     Your conduct must be entirely above reproach, and your daily life such as to set an example both from a personal as well as from a professional point of view.

4.     Whatever may be your special branch, always bear in mind the military side of the life. Comply strictly with the formalities of military life and require the same of your juniors.

5.     Yours is a position of honor and responsibility. Do your work from a sense of duty. Be thorough in all you do, and require of your subordinates thoroughness and military exactitude.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 4 April 2015

The Human Factor
Topic: Leadership

If you tell the soldier what you want, and you launch him properly into battle, he will always do his part—he has never let the side down. The British soldier is easy to lead; he is very willing to be led; and he responds at once to leadership.

The Human Factor

The Memoirs of Field-Marshal Montgomery, 1958

But the key to success in battle is not merely to provide tanks, and guns, and other equipment. Of course we want good tanks, and good guns; but what really matters is the man inside the tank, and the man behind the gun. It is 'the man' that counts, and not only the machine. The tank, and the men inside it, are a team; the best tank in the world is useless unless the crew inside it are well trained and have stout hearts. One of the chief factors for success in battle is the human factor. A commander has at his disposal certain human material; what he can make of it will depend entirely on himself If you have got men who are mentally alert, who are tough and hard, who are trained to fight and kill, who are enthusiastic, and who have that infectious optimism and offensive eagerness that comes from physical well-being, and you then give these men the proper weapons and equipment--there is nothing you cannot do.

There are two essential conditions.

First—such men must have faith in God and they must think rightly on the moral issues involved.

Second—you must have mutual confidence between the commander and the troops; any steps you take to establish this confidence will pay a very good dividend; and once you have gained the confidence of your men, you have a pearl of very great price.

A sure method of gaining the confidence of soldiers is success. And I suppose the methods you adopt to obtain success are a life study. I suggest that a study of the military disasters that have overtaken us in our history will reveal that they have been due, basically, to:

  • faulty command or
  • bad staff work or
  • neglect of the human factor,

and sometimes possibly to all three.

If you tell the soldier what you want, and you launch him properly into battle, he will always do his part—he has never let the side down. The British soldier is easy to lead; he is very willing to be led; and he responds at once to leadership.

Once you gain his confidence he will never fail you.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 13 February 2015

Leaders Win Where Commanders Lose
Topic: Leadership

The 442nd Regimental Combat Team hiking up a muddy French road in the Chambois Sector, France, in late 1944. – "442 regimental combat team" by US Army - Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Leaders Win Where Commanders Lose

"Leaders Win Where Commanders Lose," by Major Richard M. Sandusky, U.S. Infantry, Candian Defence Quarterly, Vol. XVI, No. 3, April 1939

Your stereotyped commander will insist on discipline though he lose morale. The true leader of enduring fame seeks rather the spirit of his men, knowing that when he has this he has all.

Little is taught of such [moral] leadership in our military instruction. We lay great stress on sound strategical and tactical objectives-a frontier, a city, a river, a ridge line. We are interested in things. The army cannot attack until the railroads deliver so many trains of ammunition, so many tons of rock. But morale is assumed to flow constantly as from a spigot. Sometimes it does, and again it doesn't. When the supply of morale is depleted, the stockage of depots and refilling points becomes relatively unimportant. That army cannot win. The spiritual ammunition train is empty.

Our map problems however, fail to emphasize this truth. No student, heedful of the marking committee, would attack a corps with a single division. But if his force had superb morale and if the enemy had none, any real leader would succeed either on paper or in war, because he had the high courage and the prophet's vision to estimate the spiritual as well as the material situation.

It may be difficult to evaluate intangible factors and to establish their coefficient with the physical. But is this any reason for ignoring them altogether, especially when they outweigh so definitely all other considerations? The map-problem room of today becomes the command post of tomorrow. So long as military students are trained to think in terms of numbers and size alone, we shall have an abundance of commanders but no real leaders. For they will have no course in the tactics and technique of moral forces.

Too often and too long has the human factor been allowed to shift for itself. It is in this field, more than any other that, by self-inflicted wounds, we weaken our potential power and fail to produce genuine leaders. If we think of psychology at all in military human relations, it is, in most cases, a warped and outmoded psychology which does not fit at all the problems of leadership of today.

In the end, the methods of leadership are good to the exact extent that they encourage human devotion and co-operative response. Nor is there conflict between discipline and morale. Without discipline an army is a mob; without morale it is a hollow shell. Possessing both, it is invincible. Your stereotyped commander will insist on discipline though he lose morale. The true leader of enduring fame seeks rather the spirit of his men, knowing that when he has this he has all.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Monday, 9 February 2015

Fighting Spirit
Topic: Leadership

Infantrymen of Lieutenant D.S. Barrie's platoon of The Highland Light Infantry of Canada relaxing during a rest period, France, 20 June 1944. Location: France. Date: June 20, 1944.
Photographer: Ken Bell. Mikan Number: 3205673.
From the Library and Archives Canada virtual exhibit "Faces of War."

Fighting Spirit

Notes From Theatres of War, No. 10, Cyrenaica and Western Desert January/June 1942; The War Office, October 1942

The following is a precis of a short "talk" prepared by a platoon commander in the Middle East before starting a period of intense training. It is reproduced in these Notes as it expresses the true infantry fighting spirit, mental state of determination, and ruthless aggressiveness which must form the foundation of all training, and without which we shall never destroy our enemy.

"From the start this morning I want to make one thing clear. The object of this training is to give you confidence in your ability to carry out any task asked of you.

"The first essential is discipline, the second aggressiveness. You have got to train yourself to think and to act hard, toughen yourselves up bodily and mentally, and start right from this moment. At all times you must be keen and alert. Think about, and live, your job always.

"Most of you have played games at one time or another and you no doubt always followed the code of sportsmanship. Well, now is the time to forget it. You are up against a ruthless enemy who has no code of sportsmanship or honour; he is a trained killer, capable and sure of himself, in perfect physical condition, and all out from the word 'go.' We must beat him in his own style. Blow for blow is no good, you must give him two for every one received. In this war you must kill to exist—that's your motto—KILL TO LIVE.

"You men at the moment are fit, but not fit enough. You are going to be taught fighting, wrestling, and unarmed combat. Throw yourself body and soul into all your work, for physical fitness is the keynote of all your operations.

"Finally, remember, to enable us to play our particular part in this war, we must have aggressiveness, fitness, keenness of mind, and a cold, callous, hard-fighting nature."

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST

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