Military Review English Edition July-August 2014 - Page 27

STRATEGIC LEADERSHIP the commander’s intent. Mission command requires investment in subordinate development—a time-intensive process. Strategic leaders foster a climate that promotes mission command principles all the time, not just during deployments and exercises. They provide a clear commander’s intent for routine matters as well as complex operations. They coach, teach, and mentor. Strategic leaders are transparent and easily understood. Commitment to mission command allows you to enable and be comfortable with the independent initiative of your subordinate leaders because you are reasonably certain those subordinates understand your expectations. See yourself accurately. An interesting story about the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius says that as he paraded through the streets of Rome receiving the accolades of his fellow citizens, his servant would whisper into his ear, “You’re just a man … just a man.” Humility is critical to your success as a strategic leader. It keeps you grounded in the mission and the interests of your soldiers. It helps prevent toxicity. Most of us do not see ourselves very well without some sort of outside look, and at the strategic level, it is easy to assume things are better (or worse) than they really are. Climate surveys and 360-degree evaluations are valuable tools for you to get that outside look and gauge your success, or determine where you need to improve. Seeing yourself as others see you provides valuable perspective on your performance. Remember that we are all on the same side. There are many players on the joint team, and an inclusive approach is beneficial. At the strategic level it is always best to presume those with whom we disagree are operating in good faith. Strategic leaders know that no one wins in a personal conflict, and those who make professional differences personal develop negative reputations quickly. Look for opportunities to compromise, keep an open mind, and remain focused on the strategic objective. Save your energy for the battles you need to fight against the enemy, not your teammates. Develop decision points ahead of policy. Often we hear that we have to get policy right first. At the strategic level, it is absolutely true. Set the policy correctly and the rest follows. However, events on the ground often outpace policy. MILITARY REVIEW  July-August 2014 A viable practice, uncommon but effective, is to work backwards from policy implementation to develop your decision points. Then, should circumstances create gaps between policy and necessary decision points for implementation, you have at least bought some time to work with policy makers to close those gaps since you have identified issues earlier in the process. Hurried decisions generally produce poor results and bring regret. It is wise to discuss ideas informally with the trusted agents on your staff to determine what they really think about decisions you are about to make. Candid feedback is a rare thing; seek it out. Use all the tools available. Clausewitz said, “When all is said and done, it really is the commander’s coup d’œil, his ability to see things simply, to identify the whole business of war completely with himself, that is the essence of good generalship.” This statement is no less true today. However, commanders now have many more tools at their disposal to inform their strategic decision making and problem solving—to enhance their coup d’œil. Humility is critical to your success as a strategic leader. It keeps you grounded in the mission and the interests of your soldiers. It helps prevent toxicity. Your staff, your subordinate commanders and their staffs, and your peers all have skills that can help you solve complex problems. Do not work alone; build a convergence of perspectives from multiple sources to make well-informed decisions. Never underestimate the effectiveness of using indirect leadership to build consensus and organizational support. Take care of people. Taking care of people is a strategic imperative. Leaders take care of people by training and developing them so they achieve success in the Army profession and as part of the joint team. 25