Monday, September 12, 2005

The Category 5 General: Example of Leadership

The Washington Post answered my previous post on what leadership looks like. He's U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honore -- now in charge of Gulf Coast and New Orleans military operations. A no-nonsense leader gives us some significant attributes to aspire toward.

Leadership Attribute No. 1 -- Take Command, Communicate Clearly

It takes a big personality to command the army east of the Mississippi River. A reporter told Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff that a Louisiana politician had complained there was too much red tape facing victims. Before Chertoff could answer, Honore snapped: "That's b.s.!" He isthe kind of commander you don't mess with, you don't cross, who punctuates pronouncements with barked questions like "Everybody got that?"

Leadership Attribute No. 2 -- Serve Those You Lead

He's a soldier's soldier, the man you want in the trenches with you, the kind of man who'll cover your back. Read his conversation with Spec. Amy Firestone to see the perfect example. "This ain't about me," he says, there amid the troops. "This is about us."

Leadership Attribute No. 3 -- Create the Mission and Take Action

It's better to ask for forgiveness than for permission. What Honore has done is understood his role and understood the broad mission. He will make somebody mad. He will step on somebody's toes and probably do some things wrong, albeit very few things wrong.

Leadership Attribute No. 4 -- Be Accountable and Expect Accountability

"I got in the military and I liked what I was doing and the opportunity to be judged by your performance as opposed to other measures." He is talking about race, but he does not want to elaborate. Rather than talk about the racism of those days, he says, "I'm more about the future than the past."

Fending off early criticism of the federal government's response to the crisis, he says, "It's like the first quarter of a football game. You're losing 25 to nothing. What in the hell is the coach gonna do?"


At 2:23 PM, Anonymous Tyler said...

Being in the military myself I totally appreciated what you had to say about aspiring to be a leader. Lt. General Honore is a great example (among many) in the service that we should all desire to follow into leadership roles. You made some valid points in your leadership attributes and I couldn't help but understand the General's methods of dealing with the situation at hand.

First you said, "Take Command, Communicate Clearly". This, I believe, is the most vital role of a true leader. In any leadership role you must establish you are in control of the situation. This is the military style and it has been effective at accomplishing many military objectives. Why too wouldn't it work in this virtual battle zone?

Second you said, "Serve Those You Lead". I will always be more interested in following a leader who can understand where I am coming from. The idea that the General is willing to work as hard as his troops to accomplish his mission speaks volumes for his leadership abilities. If all leaders were willing to get in the "trenches" with the troops we would have more effective leaders!

Third you said, "Create the Mission and Take Action". A true leader has a plan and puts it into action as soon as he hits the ground. Missions would never get accomplished it they never left the drawing board! You were right when you said he'll step on some toes and I hope he does! Apparently things were handled with "kid gloves" before and nothing was getting done! It's time to "Take Action".

Finally you said, "Be Accountable and Expect Accountability." There are going to be mistakes made and there will be someone who pays for those mistakes. It is always best to step up to the plate as a leader and admit your errors. People will follow that type of leader and not be afraid of admitting their own. A leader who is accountable for his own actions can certainly expect the same from his troops.

In all I think every point you made was excellent! I think you really nailed the idea behind a leader and Lt. General Honore is a good example thus far. Good leaders (true leaders) lead by example and with your "Leadership Attributes" how could a leader go wrong!


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