An administrator examines the war colleges and the joint professional military education institutions and calls on the schools to employ the optimal mix of military and civilian faculty to encourage the rise of new thinking in vital areas and...
This was my attempt to provide some additional perspective to the debate about the relevancy and effectiveness of the war colleges. I wanted to share some insights from having been a student and faculty member in the system of professional military education as well as a faculty member and administrator in non-military settings. I hope it provokes some discussion, especially with regard to policies and procedures relating to the faculty.
In her book Toxic Leaders: When Organizations Go Bad, Marcia Whicker describes toxic leaders as “maladjusted, malcontent, and often malevolent, even malicious. They glory in turf protection, fighting, and controlling rather than uplifting ...
Jean Lipman-Blumen is a wonderful person and a world-class scholar. This interview was part of a graduate course where the students prepared the questions and introductions while I played the host. They read her work before the class. We later turned off the lights and camera and engaged in a wonderful dialogue.
Here's a nice summary of some of my thoughts on Toxic Leadership by my friend and ace San Diego Fire Chief, Brian Fennessy. I think he knows my work better than I do. I love it when insights like these cross contexts.
Michael Soupios and Panos Mourdoukoutas have reviewed the writings of the Classical philosophers and selected ten ideas that will positively impact our leadership effectiveness in The Ten Golden Rules of Leadership. Not surprisingly, the philosophies of classic figures remain relevant in today's workplace.
Early on the authors suggest that the raw material of leadership is not latent in just about everyone and it “just takes a nudge to trigger its unfolding.” Further, the “special qualities of genuine leadership are remarkably complex and rare.” It is true that good leaders are not as common as they need to be and that we do confuse administration with actual leadership as they suggest, but the potential is there in each one of us. The problem is that it remains latent in many of us. We choose not to do the work necessary and instead assume reading “Leadership Lessons I Learned from My Cat” is enough to unlock our potential.
The authors do expose the real culprit at the end of the book: “Achieving the rank of genuine leader is a daunting task that most will find prohibitively challenging.” In short, “leadership requires a special form of courage: the courage to fashion a code of conduct governed by principled conviction.”
Genuine leadership is not complex but it is difficult because it requires that we do the inner-work on a continual basis. And that is a lot to commit to. It’s lifelong. And what we want to do is to check it off and mark it as good enough. Sustainable leadership requires a radical life-long commitment to rule one of leadership: Know Thyself.
Rule 1: “Know Thyself.” –Thales This is an intimidating task and one that many leaders never really get around to. It never seems as important as the task at hand. The larger issue though is that we all possess a “powerful tendency to obscure, distort, and fictionalize on behalf of a fabricated reality.” The authors note that “Knowing Thyself means bringing a fresh transparency to our hidden motives and identities.” They suggest that a would-be leader commit to “an agenda of spirited self-indictment.”
Rule 2: “Office Shows the Person.” –Pittacus Giving a person power reveals their inner qualities. “Specifically, power discloses whether or not a person has disposed f the psychological deficiencies that negate the possibility of real leadership.”
Rule 3: “Nurture Community at the Workplace.” –Plato Plato insisted that “there is no greater evil than discord and faction and no greater good than the bonds of communal sentiment.” The idea that if one part of the body suffers, we all suffer. “Foster a cultre of cooperation and collaboration by defying the myth of the exceptional individual, and by explaining the corporate gains of working together.”
Rule 4: “Do Not Waste Energy on Things You Cannot Change.” –Aristophanes The Athenian playwright Aristophanes wrote in his play titled Peace, “Never will you make the crab to walk straight.” Some things we cannot change. “Leaders must assume a posture of flexible response.”
Rule 5: “Always Embrace the Truth.” –Antisthenes Antisthenes wrote, “There are only two people who will tell you the truth about yourself—an enemy who has lost his temper and a friend who loves you dearly.” “Honest assessment is an essential requirement of effective leadership.” The problem is that the higher up the ladder you go, the less likely you will receive complete and accurate information.” Seek the truth. Hire a heretic.
Rule 6: “Let Competition Reveal Talent.” –Hesiod Hesiod suggested that competition that releases selfishness is destructive, but competition that releases ingenuity and creative is a constructive use of competition. Strife than is not the byproduct, but inner excellence and personal development.
Rule 7: “Live Life by a Higher Code.” –Aristotle Aristotle wrote of the “magnanimous man” or the “great-souled” person. He is referring to a person that lives by a higher or more rigorous code than the average person. But not in a vain way. “When it comes to the great-souled individual, personal honor, not ego, is the ultimate priority and concern.”
Rule 8: “Always Evaluate Information with a Critical Eye.” –The Skeptics “Leaders should never assume that the information they receive is unsoiled by hidden agendas or political agendas.” The problem though is even more personal than that. Socrates reminded us that “we must be vigilant against the conceits of wisdom [and] that we are all strongly inclined to assume we understand things that in truth we fail to genuinely comprehend.”
Rule 9: “Never Underestimate the Power of Personal Integrity.” –Sophocles In the play Philoctetes by Sophocles, one of the two central characters believes that the ends justify the means; “one should not allow moral concerns to impede the necessities of practical achievement.” In the face of this seductive idea, the other main character, Neoptolemus, responds, “I would prefer even to fail with honor than win by cheating.” It’s easy to rationalize wrong behavior.
Rule 10: “Character Is Destiny.” –Heraclitus Our character or our moral essence determines the course of our lives. While we can’t control the world around us, “Heraclitus was correct to insist that we are, to a very great extent, the authors of both our own blessings and our own burdens.” “A well formed character,” write the authors, “is the priceless reward paid to those who have done the hard work of coming to know themselves.”
It’s tough at the top, and once you get their, staying there means developing a leadership footprint, a way of thinking, communicating and doing that takes YOUR people forward at the speed of change. The new ecosystem is a trajectory of change, challenges, hyper-competition and opportunities that have become the NEW normal and will only continue to grow. There are many reasons why the focus of my work is the optimization of human potential and results in disruptive times. My passion for 3Q Leadership™ is the fire that lights my day, my work and my commitment to helping those who lead, and those who aspire to greater leadership succeed.