Chapter 11 Readings

This week i read a couple of articles about leadership.  Although each uniquely different in their own right, they all exhibit elements of a true leader. 

Friends til the end:  the first article I am going to discuss is about the connection made between a Lt. during WWII and a jewish concentration camp survivor.  This was a truly  touching piece about how a Lt. John Withers went against the regulations of the Army to help a young man who had recently been liberated from Dachau.  At first hearing of his Company housing two jewish men, Lt. Withers initial reaction was to make them leave.  This was not only because it was against Army regulation but because he wanted to make sure that his recorded was not tainted in the process.  After seeing these two men, he instantly changed his mind and let them stay at the camp.  Not only did he give them food and shelter, but he taught them to speak english, shoot a gun, and drive.  He made a decision to put his own needs aside and think of those that his decisions would affect.  He wanted to set the right example for the men that looked up to him, and to maintain his own moral values.  As an African-American living in the South he knew what it was like to be discriminated against.  He knew by making the boys leave, he would be no better than the people who made use a different entrance.  He displayed true leadership because he was true to himself and to his values.  he did not let his own personal needs cloud is judgement.

The Price of a Man:  the next article was about a Marine whose career was ended because he believed the value of a mans life was worth more than a couple of hours driving time.  Although going against orders from the general, Col. Joe Dowdy decided that he would not risk the lives of his men to save them a couple of hours of driving time.  Although, in my opinion he exercised good leadership but thinking of how his decision would affect other lives and taking full responsibility as to what happened on the battlefield, Col. Dowdy was released from his position after the completion of a mission without any formal reasons for dismissal.  Although to those who knew him, he was revered as a spectacular leader whose main goal was to keep him men alive and well.  My question is, how can a man who was so well-loved by all who knew, and who would not put the lives of United States Marines lose his title?  An un-answerable question but one that requires reflection on both ends. 

Put yourself last:  this article was about how good leaders put the interest of the company before their own personal interests.  This means that they are upholding not only the integrity of the company and their value but the values they hold for themself and the integrity that comes with holding that kind of position of authority.  Having that kind of power can cause most leaders to forget who they were when they first enter into a position of authority and become overwhelmed with the new found rights and privileges that come with being a manager.  In others words, to be a good leader you have to put the integrity of the company before your own personal interests. 

New wine, Old Bottles:  This article by Stephen Covey discuss a different kind of leadership style called a servant leader.  Basically the idea is to repackage old leadership with a new and fresh outlook.  One that does not require them to micromanage their subordinates, or scare them into submission.  It suggests that you build a new kind of relationship.  One of trust, understanding, and a confidence in your employees to let them do their work without interference.  It also suggests that once this kind of relationship is established that you now are only used as an addition source of information that they cannot find themselves or do not have access to.  In general, this is not really a new idea but one that most leaders do not consider because they lack the trust in their employees.   However, it is with building this trust that this leadership is built.

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