Leadership Found and Fought at the Alamo

Some historians regard the Mexican defeat in the Texas Revolution as among the most influential developments in the emergence of the United States as a hemispheric and, eventually, a world power.

The Diamond6 Alamo Leadership Study offers thought-provoking insights from a battle and campaign that seem familiar—but are not generally well understood. On-the-ground study of this Revolution opens up discoveries that can benefit today’s leaders as they grapple with unpredictable change, inter-cultural influences, powerful personalities, a highly volatile environment, and competing stakeholder aims.

The chaotic conditions in Texas and Mexico in 1836 presented leaders on both sides with wickedly complex challenges. In San Antonio both groups operated at the far end of their range of influence. Misunderstandings of the situation and of the opposition’s aims and qualities forced Samuel Houston, Travis, and David Bowie on the Texian side and Santa Anna and his political and military aides on the other to guess and improvise almost every day.

For the Anglo-Tejano rebels, unexpected attacks on their legal rights, uncontrolled influx of American adventurers, and economic penalties imposed by Santa Anna’s government provoked an ill-organized, mutually suspicious resistance. Disagreements over the question of independence or reform and disputed leadership at state level put Travis and Bowie in a tough, risky position in San Antonio early in the year. Their Tejano partners, led by Navarro and Seguin, faced choices that were doubly hard. In both groups a mistaken conception of Santa Anna’s intention and abilities led them to dangerously false assumptions and compelled rebel leaders to make snap decisions that had decisive effects.

On the other side, Santa Anna saw the resistance in Texas as yet another instance in a long line of Yankee incursions into Mexico. Insecure in power and dealing with opposition in Mexico City and in other states, he had to force a quick decision. His response was ingenious in some respects but deeply flawed in others. The leadership environment he imposed on his army and government played a central part in the contest’s outcome and is notably useful for study today.

The perceptions of observers on all sides constrained their choices and created problems analogous to those that leaders face today. The neutral citizens of Mexico, the population and government of the United States, several European powers, and the Native American tribes of the region all figured in the choices that the opposing leaders had to make.

San Antonio became a decisive point for both sides, unwittingly for the rebels and deliberately for Santa Anna. In the Alamo Leadership Study, participants examine how the actions of Travis and Santa Anna brought on a crisis for both sides. Diamond 6’s expert historians and authorities on leadership theory assist them in developing new ideas about the case itself and about the application of leadership principles to current problems. Past participants from both the private and public sectors have enhanced their leader skills individually and as teams through this event.


Don Holder is an independent consultant on leadership, Joint Force and Army doctrine, and training.  As one of six Battle Command Training Program (BCTP) Senior Mentors, he coached commanders of Army corps, divisions and brigades in advanced training exercises.  He advises doctrine writers and force designers on future operations and lectures on theater operations at foreign and US service schools.

THIS is More Important Than Leadership Development…

I’m going to let you in on a secret about Diamond6….

Even though the word “leadership” is in our name, we often consider it secondary to a much more important topic – your health. Let me explain.

When I ask you to visualize a hardworking, successful leader what do you see?

This?

 

 

 

 

Or this?

 

 

 

 

 

My guess is picture number one.

The expectation is that to be effective, successful and respected by colleagues and subordinates a leader should be doing something all the time. Days are full of meetings, phone calls, emails and 24/7 accessibility. Every moment of the day must be filled or else we aren’t working hard enough. “No rest for the weary!” or “I’ll sleep when I’m dead!” are all too common phrases that we hear – either from others or we tell ourselves.

Our lives are hectic, there’s no doubt about that. Technology makes us accessible no matter where we are or what time it is, causing work time to flow over into our personal time. Who hasn’t checked work email at dinner or been on a conference call during soccer practice?

We know that putting aside time for health and self-care is important. But, we don’t make it a priority like we do work-related tasks. Habits like exercising, eating well, drinking plenty of water, and spending time outside are squeezed into whatever open space may be left in an already overflowing calendar. If we do make time for, or prioritize self-care it often comes with feelings of guilt and shame. Guilt for making ourselves a priority and shame because we’re afraid what others might think. “She should be working on that big report instead of going for a walk!”

The Rippe Health Assessment Study of Senior Executives found that senior executives are at a higher risk for heart disease and are more inclined to having elevated cholesterol and high blood pressure. This study further concluded that 73 percent of the executives who participated were not active enough, and nearly 40 percent were obese.

This study was conducted by Dr. James Rippe, associate professor of medicine (cardiology) at Tufts University School of Medicine and founder/director of the Rippe Lifestyle Institute and Rippe Health Assessment. In response to the results, Dr. Rippe said, “The critical levels of risk factors for heart disease among senior executives affect everyone in the business world, from employees to stockholders.  And because risk factors multiply each other in relation to the risk of heart disease, an overweight, inactive senior executive is something that no American company can afford.”

I would add that inactive, sick employees is also something your organization cannot afford.

If you are not regularly practicing self-care habits you are doing a disservice to yourself, your organization and those you lead. A sick, tired, and stressed leader will be ineffective, making all other knowledge about leadership completely obsolete. This is why we believe that your health is of utmost importance.

All leaders must lead by example. This cannot be more true than when it comes to the health of the people in your organization. When others see you practicing self-care habits it gives them permission to do the same for themselves.

Here are three self-care habits you can start TODAY and lead others to taking care of themselves as well.

  1. Walk: Studies have linked sitting to a greater risk for a variety of cancers, as well as type 2 diabetes. And, more than half of our waking hours are spent sitting. Walking meetings are a great way to incorporate movement into your day, while still getting work done and getting others motivated to move. For example; set aside an hour once a week for your walking meeting and put it on your calendar. Let colleagues know if they wish to discuss something with you they are welcome to join you for your walk. Encourage others to follow suit and schedule walking meetings into their calendars as well.
  2. Drink: It seems simple enough, but most of us don’t drink enough water. My recommendation is to drink half your weight in ounces. For example; if you weigh 150 lbs you should be drinking 75 ounces of water each day. To get others on board with drinking water make sure to bring your water to meetings or offer a bottle of water to anyone who comes into your office. Make sure employees have access to clean drinking water by providing a water cooler or water fountain close by.
  3. Learn: The wonderful part of being in an office setting is that you have built in teammates. Learning together about health and wellness is a great way to get motivated and consequently hold each other accountable to practicing new self-care habits. It can also foster team building, compassion and awareness for one another. Reach out to a local health expert to conduct a “Lunch and Learn” class or bring in a yoga instructor once a week to do a short stretching class.

Check out my upcoming webinar!

During this class I will share a step by step guide for making lasting changes to the way you eat, my favorite clean-eating staples and much more! Click the image below to reserve your spot. 

Of course, I encourage you to lead by example and share this class with your team, colleagues or organization! I look forward to speaking with you then.


Tanya McCausland is the COO at Diamond6 Leadership and a Holistic Nutrition Consultant. She is board certified by the National Association of Nutrition Professionals and teaches executive wellness to leaders at all levels.