Leaders don't need to be Generals

Nearly all leadership models are composed of tactics. Combined with our short attention span the military model of leadership seems to be what people understand and sensationalize. The trouble with applying this model in everyday circumstances is:

  • It assumes near complete control of the team
  • The team are automatons
  • The main sub text of this leadership is violence and aggression
  • Leaders can use nearly any means necessary for compliance
  • War and violent events create sensational news stories that punctuate our memory, hence military heros stand out as a part of that sensational event.

So what is everyday life like ? Would you apply these techniques on your kids ? Co-workers ? In a classroom ? I feel military leadership has a place, that is, when someone is asked (or made) to ultimately sacrifice their lives to protect a free and peaceful society from ideological aggressors. When bullets are flying, we don't have the luxury of collaboration. But by its very nature, the violence of war and fighting negate the fundamentals of everyday leadership, which is to foster the best in us. Violence is the exact opposite of this; it is the worst in us.

So we need to dissolve the notion that the 'man on the balcony' style of leadership is anything more than a softened military general. Leadership is participatory. Without keen and active participants, leaders are just dictators.


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