Diamond6 in Hawaii; Leadership and Pearl Harbor

Ww2_pearl_harbor_resolve_posterOn July 9-10, 2013, Diamond6 partnered with First Canoe Strategies and Consulting, Inc. to host a very special leadership event for a major US company with international interests.   First Canoe, based in Honolulu, includes leadership training and leader development among its core competencies, primarily working with companies based in Hawaii or conducting business there.   Seminars can also be packaged for groups from companies based on the mainland that are traveling to or through Hawaii for conventions, off sites, strategic planning sessions or other similar events.

Those who are familiar with the Diamond6 leader training that takes place on the Gettysburg battlefield would recognize the format of the recent event hosted by First Canoe in Honolulu. The foundation of the seminar is based on one of the toughest, best known crucibles for leaders in America’s history—the attack on Pearl Harbor on “A Date Which Will Live in Infamy”, December 7, 1941.  On that day, leaders were forged, leadership lessons were learned, and principles were tested that hold enormous value—and relevance—for the leaders of any organization who face tough decisions and the requirement to “make it happen” in an environment of great uncertainty or crisis.

Similar to the Gettysburg experience, Diamond6 and First Canoe facilitators took participants to key vantage points overlooking the sites where leaders took action, made decisions, and otherwise shaped the course of the battle that day, ultimately setting the course of history.  At each stop the conversation focused on an important leadership topic:

  • Pearl Harbor and “Battleship Row”—How does the company adapt to new technologies?
  • Hospital Point (the site of the emergency grounding of the USS Nevada after the initial attack)—How can our leaders make fast decisions in a crisis and get out ahead of the competition or a looming problem?
  • Hickam and Wheeler Airfields—Where do we see examples of “groupthink” in the company, and does it have us “lined up on a runway” vulnerable to unexpected surprises?
  • Fort Shafter (“The Pineapple Pentagon”)—What is the difference between authority and responsibility?  Do we have each allocated appropriately?
  • The Punchbowl—Do we understand our organizational culture, and is it conducive to our operations?

The seminar also included time for group discussion and reflection.  Some key insights that participants surfaced at these sessions included:

  • The Power of the Few:  how individual leaders can make a difference for the entire organization.
  • Inspirational Leadership:  the importance of a motivated and motivational leader.
  • Crisis—Danger and Opportunity:  how to seize the opportunity and hedge against the effects of danger
  • Information and Knowledge:  the difference between the two, and how to turn information into knowledge.
  • Decision Making:  how and when to make decisions, or decide not to.
  • Leading the Boss:  how to get the decisions and guidance you need to do your job.
  • Effective Communications:  how to make them the standard in the company.

Based on the survey administered at the end of the session, the experience was both valuable and enjoyable.  Some sample comments:

  • “Well prepared, planned, and executed by very professional people…” (An assistant to the company’s vice president)
  • “All of the seminar was highly impactful, not just one particular part…”  (A mid-level manager)
  • “I would definitely recommend this seminar to my industry friends…”  (A mid-level manager)
  • “The participants were “wowed”, with some saying that it was their best training ever!”  (Corporate Vice President)


For more information on First Canoe or the “Date Which Will Live in Infamy” Leadership Seminar, go to http://firstcanoe.com or send an e-mail to Crissy Gayagas (President and Founding Partner) at info@firstcanoe.com.  Seminar information is also available through Diamond6 at www.diamondsixleadership.com or info@diamondsixleadership.com

The top three leadership lessons from the battle of Gettysburg

Article was originally published in The Guardian on July 2, 2013

Gettysburg_General_Armistead_Picketts_Charge_smallThe United States has fought many battles in its history. During two battles, however, the fate of the entire nation hung in the balance. The first was Yorktown where the combined forces of George Washington’s Continental army and a French fleet defeated the British army and forced its surrender. If Washington had lost at Yorktown, the American war for independence might well have failed. The second was at Gettysburg during the American civil war.

For three days, 1-3 July 1863 the future of the US as one nation was in jeopardy. A Confederate victory could have resulted in recognition of the south as an independent state by several European powers, and Abraham Lincoln would likely have lost the election in 1864.

This week marks the 150th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg. We have an opportunity to reflect on many important leadership lessons that are as relevant today as they were in 1863. Let’s consider three:

1. The importance of time and timing
When a leader makes a decision for his/her organization, timing may actually be more important than the decision taken. The battle of Gettysburg occurs largely because a Union cavalry commander, John Buford, recognizes the critical importance of the town’s crossroads. As a result, he positions his troopers on the best terrain west of the city, resulting in the initial fighting on 1 July.

Today, we often believe that leaders are better equipped to make decisions based on a plethora of available technological devices (cellphones, iPads, computers, etc) and data. But if leaders today are not careful these very devices can rob their organizations of initiative. Buford made a decision for the entire Union army. If he had had a cellphone he might well have called his boss to ask his opinion, left a voicemail, sent a text, etc and then waited for a reply before acting thus wasting precious time.

2. Effective leaders must “park” their personal ego and focus on what is best for their organization
Jim Collins, author of Good to Great argues his research of the best modern companies demonstrates that so-called “Level 5 leaders” who make decisions solely based on what is best for their organizations are the most successful. Robert E Lee arrived at Gettysburg following a string of victories at Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg. Consequently, some civil war historians have suggested that Lee, despite his brilliance as a tactician, may have suffered from hubris. He appears to have believed that he and his army of Northern Virginia could not be defeated. As a result he orders the now famous “Pickett’s Charge” on the third day, which resulted in disaster.

3. An effective leader must articulate and communicate a strategic vision to his/her organization
The full story of Gettysburg encompasses both the battle and the Gettysburg Address delivered by President Lincoln on 19 November 1863. This iconic speech of less than 300 words described a clear vision for the nation’s future – “a new birth of freedom”. It followed naturally from his first inaugural address that focused on preserving the Union, and the Emancipation Proclamation which freed slaves in the “states under rebellion” but did not end slavery as an institution.

Lincoln would continue to communicate his vision for the nation to the end. At his urging, the US Congress passed the 13th Amendment ending slavery in America in January 1865. On 4 March, Lincoln was inaugurated for a second term. During his brief remarks (only slightly over 700 words) he described a vision of reconciliation: “With malice towards none, with charity towards all.” He later provided guidance to his Generals Ulysses S Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman that they should let them up easy when dealing with the impending surrender of Confederate troops.

On 10 April, there were celebrations throughout Washington following the announcement that Robert E Lee had surrendered. Lincoln addressed a crowd outside the White House that evening, and his final speech argued that former slaves who had fought for the Union should receive full citizenship including the right to vote. One of the onlookers was John Wilkes Booth, a relatively famous actor. On 14 April, Booth shot Lincoln during a play at Fords Theater. The president would die the next day – Good Friday. Sadly, the vision he articulated would not be realized for over a century.

Leadership is clearly an art and not a science, and we can learn much from the past. As we prepare for the future, leadership is as critical to any organization today as it was during a few days 1863.

Image from HERE.

Dr. Jeff McCausland is Founder and CEO of Diamond6 Leadership and Strategy, LLC. His most challenging and unique leadership experience was leading and commanding 750 troops into the first Gulf War. He is proud to say that everyone came home healthy and safe.

Leadership and Globalization

globalizationGlobalization is how many describe the period in which we live.  It is clearly dynamic and characterized by near constant change.  Furthermore, globalization describes an ongoing process by which economies, societies and cultures have become integrated through globe-spanning networks.  Experts agree that it is driven by a combination of economic, technological, sociocultural, political and biological factors.  Furthermore, it also refers to the transnational dissemination of ideas, languages, or popular culture.  Tom Friedman, the celebrated author described it in his book The Lexus and the Olive Tree as “the 100-meter dash, over and over and over.  And no matter how many times you win, you have to race again the next day.  And if you lose by just one-hundredth of a second, it can be as if you lost by an hour.

Clearly, leaders have a major role in how their organizations and teams deal with both the challenges and opportunities of globalization.  I recently ran a series of seminars for a large school district leadership team focused on various aspects of globalization and how it affects education.  We discussed in detail changes that every school district must consider both in terms of structure and curriculum.  One of our speakers made a remarkable observation.  “Educators,” he said “are the first responders to globalization”.

I am firmly convinced this is absolutely true.  Educators are members of a profession. Dr. Andrew Abbott, one of the nation’s experts on the sociology of professions, argues that professions (theologians, the military, law enforcement, and doctors) have three common characteristics.  First, each is responsible for the continued development of an abstract body of knowledge that is critical to society.  Second, society grants professions a certain level of autonomy.  Professions have rituals and licensing to grant membership and have the authority to remove individuals if they violate its norms.  Third, each profession provides a service to society, which is critical if it is to endure and prosper.  With this in mind I believe society holds leaders in education responsible for preparing the next generation to deal with both the challenges and opportunities that globalization offers.

As I thought about this further I was reminded of the words of another great “educator” – Fred Rogers (AKA “Mr. Rogers”).  Fred once said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers.  You will always find people who are helping.’  Globalization may be scary at times to all of us, and particularly students who realize it will frame their future.  Consequently, if Fred’s Mom was with us today I think she would be talking about educators….

[1] Thomas L. Friedman, The Lexus and the Olive Tree, New York: Anchor Books, 2000, p. 7.

Image from HERE.

Dr. Jeff McCausland is Founder and CEO of Diamond6 Leadership and Strategy, LLC. His most challenging and unique leadership experience was leading and commanding 750 troops into the first Gulf War. He is proud to say that everyone came home healthy and safe.

Leading During a Crisis

OB-DE821_billge_D_20090224183025It seems like we are surrounded by crises – the bombing at the Boston Marathon, shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut, gas explosion in Texas, and destructive tornadoes that struck Oklahoma.  In mental health terms, a crisis refers not necessarily to a traumatic situation or event, but to a person’s reaction to an event. One person might be deeply affected by an event, while another individual suffers little or no ill effects. As we consider crises it may be useful to remember that the Chinese word for crisis summarizes its components. The word crisis in Chinese is formed with the combination of two characters — danger and opportunity. A crisis presents an obstacle, trauma, or threat, but it also presents leaders an opportunity for either growth or decline.

We often think of a crisis as a sudden unexpected disaster, such as a car accident, natural disaster, or other cataclysmic event. However, crises can range substantially in type and severity. Sometimes a crisis is a predictable part of the life cycle.  Situational crises are sudden and unexpected, such as accidents and natural disasters. Existential crises are inner conflicts related to things such as life purpose, direction, and spirituality.

All leaders know that their organization will undergo crises.  They must prepare plans and processes that “inoculate” as much as possible their organization from its worst effects.  This includes plans for immediate crisis action, leader succession, communications, etc.  Next, good leaders must realize that all members of the organization will look to them for both direction and encouragement.  Finally, leaders must realize that their organization will not be the same after the crisis.  They must demonstrate caring and set a new course for the future.  A critical part of this is to take the time to confront a difficult question – “What can we learn from this experience no matter how difficult that will make us a better organization in future?”

Finally, it may be helpful to consider an old phrase from World War II — “Keep calm and carry on”.    This was a motivational poster produced by the British government in 1939 during the beginning of the Second World War.  It was intended to raise the morale of the British public in the aftermath of widely predicted mass air attacks on major cities. Oddly, the poster had only limited distribution with no public display, and thus was little known. The poster was rediscovered in 2000, and since then has been widely used throughout the United Kingdom.  During the preparation for the Olympic Games it was reissued – “Keep calm and carry on…it’s only the Olympics!

Image from HERE.

Dr. Jeff McCausland is Founder and CEO of Diamond6 Leadership and Strategy, LLC. His most challenging and unique leadership experience was leading and commanding 750 troops into the first Gulf War. He is proud to say that everyone came home healthy and safe.

D6 March Telecall: Mentoring

For the past 8 years I’ve only worked with groups from major school districts, law firms and large companies. This has been an incredibly effective approach and I have been honored to learn from and experience some great leadership teams. It has been so successful in fact that many organizations send groups to us year after year to experience the D6 approach to leadership development.

But, all along people have asked how they can get more 1:1 leadership development with me. They found the group approach very valuable but wanted to get some hands-on coaching and feedback.

Our goal at Diamond6 is to help you make your individual and organizational visions a reality this year. That is why we are starting to host FREE bi-monthly tele-calls focused on different areas of leadership that we have found to be of most interest to you.

Our first call was in March and I talked about mentorship. We had people from all over the world join us which was a thrill and we had a very interesting discussion.

Want to listen in?

We’ve included the audio below for you to listen to. Just click play.

Join us next time!

Sign up for the D6 newsletter and you’ll be the first to know about our next call!

New Year….More Challenges

(Article originally published by the Carnegie Council)

The New Obama National Security Team 
In the aftermath of the inauguration, the Senate has begun confirmation hearings for President Barack Obama’s overall cabinet and national security team for the second term. Senator John Kerry (D-MA) was easily confirmed as secretary of state and received 94 affirmative votes from his Senate colleagues with only three opposed. Confirmation hearings for John Brennan, currently President Obama’s chief counterrorism advisor, will begin in early February for him to become the new CIA Director.

President Obama’s nomination of former Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) as secretary of defense has drawn significant opposition from Republicans in the Senate and various other groups across the United States. There are five areas the opposition has focused on. First, Senator Hagel once commented about his belief that the “Jewish lobby” wielded inordinate influence on American lawmakers. While some might call this language inappropriate, Vice President Dick Cheney also used the same phrase, as have others. Clearly, anyone involved in policy development in Washington understands the significant influence wielded by the Israeli lobby. It should not be forgotten that every presidential candidate has delivered a speech at the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in efforts to secure their support. Despite the fact that Hagel voted consistently in favor of military aid for Israel throughout his career, some have now taken these comments as “anti-Semitic,” which would clearly appear to be a complete distortion.

Second, he opposed a number of unilateral sanctions against Iran and argued that they would be ineffective absent coordination with our European allies and others. Senator Hagel has also said the decision to attack Iran if it fails to halt its ongoing efforts to acquire nuclear weapons could unleash unexpected consequences and must be avoided at all costs. While this would seem even to the left of the position taken by the administration, Senator Hagel attempted to make clear that he supported the president’s policy that “all options should be on the table” when dealing with Iran.

Third, in the late 1990’s, he criticized a nominee for an ambassadorial post who was openly gay. Senator Hagel argued that the ambassador’s sexual orientation could adversely select his ability to perform his duties. He has subsequently apologized for these remarks.

Fourth, Senator Hagel has said that he believes the Pentagon budget is “bloated” and reductions in defense should occur as part of overall deficit reduction.

Finally, Senator Hagel openly broke with his Republican colleagues over the Iraq War and warned his colleagues in 2002 that an invasion of Iraq could lead to chaos and a violent struggle between Shiites and Sunnis. Senator Hagel also opposed the surge in 2007. This appears to have resulted in a clear rift with his old friend Senator John McCain (R-AZ) who Senator Hagel had supported for president in 2000. Senator McCain had actually said during that campaign that if he were elected president, Senator Hagel would be a good candidate for secretary of defense.

The confirmation hearing for Senator Hagel was particularly harsh and many of his former Republican friends were extremely critical. Senator McCain appeared to take it as a personal affront that Senator Hagel did not fully agree that the “surge” in Iraq was a success. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) badgered Senator Hagel over his assertions that the Israeli lobby had influenced actions in Congress and repeatedly asked him to name one senator who had been intimidated. New elected Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) surprised the hearing by showing a video of Senator Hagel appearing on the Arab television station Al Jazeera. Senator Cruz charged that, in the Al Jazeera clip, Senator Hagel had not challenged a caller who had accused Israel of war crimes

Oddly, the confirmation hearing was much more focused on the past than the challenges faced by a defense secretary in the future. Afghanistan was only raised a few times. There was no real discussion of the use of force in the future once the war in Afghanistan is over, or defense policy priorities during a period of shrinking resources. China and the so-called “pivot to the Pacific” were not discussed in any great detail. Finally, January 27, 2013 marked the 40th anniversary of the all-volunteer force which was created at the end of the Vietnam War. The next secretary of defense must examine carefully the health of that force and how to maintain it in future.

Senator Hagel’s performance during the hearing was subpar at best. One observer summed the event up well and observed that he “melted like a chocolate bar on the dashboard during a hot day.” Senator Hagel did not seem to have ready answers for obvious questions and fumbled his responses concerning Iran. He stated at one point that he supported the president’s policy of “containment” of Iran, only to have to later retract that statement.

Still, it still appears likely that Senator Hagel will be confirmed. So far, no Republican senator seems interested in filibustering the nomination, and the Democrats have a majority on the committee that will insure the nomination makes its way to the floor. Most experts believe Senator Hagel may get 55 to 60 “Yes” votes, but he only needs 51. It appears hard to believe the Senate could reject one of their own who was born in poverty, got drafted, earned two Purple Hearts in combat in Vietnam, worked his way through college, made a fortune in the cellphone business, and then entered public service. In the history of confirmation votes, over 500 nominees have been confirmed and only nine have been rejected. The last was Senator John Tower (R-TX) over 24 years ago, and he was alleged to have been a womanizer with a severe alcohol problem.

This process and the nominations the president has made so far are also instructive about the character of the new team. The first Obama administration was characterized as a “team of rivals” that included political opponents such as Hillary Clinton. It is clear now that the president wants a team that he is personally comfortable with and supports the policies he wishes to pursue. This is a “team of friends.”

Sequestration and So-Called “March Madness”

The Pentagon issued a “28 Star Letter” to members of Congress in early January that was signed by all seven members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. All of these officers, representing all of the services and National Guard, have attained the rank of four-star general and they expressed their concern about the impact that the continuing resolution and sequestration will have on military readiness if it is implemented on March 1. All of the service chiefs and the chairman have also repeatedly made this point individually in various policy forums for many months.

For example, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jon Greenert released specific details of how the Navy is reducing operational spending to comply with the constraints of the ongoing continuing resolution (CR) and imminent sequester. He pointed out that the Navy is currently on pace to spend $49 billion in FY 2013 for operations and maintenance (O&M) funds on flight hours, steaming days, civilian personnel pay, and maintenance for ships and aircraft. Because of the terms of the CR that is currently funding the government, the Navy has already begun to reduce that level of spending for the rest of the year by $4.6 billion. The CR language also requires the deferral of $1.7 billion in planned spending on new programs until an appropriations bill is passed. If sequester is implemented on March 1, as now seems probable, the Navy will reduce spending a further $4 billion.

This would have a significant negative impact on many defense industries and the economy as a whole. Companies deriving significant income from Navy O&M will see reductions in planned payments from the Navy regardless of whether or not sequester goes into effect on March 1. Congress must replace the current CR with an appropriations bill by March 27 to reverse these cuts.

If sequester goes into effect on March 1, cuts to Navy O&M will have greater immediate operational impact in terms of curtailing current and future deployments. Actions taken to comply with FY 2013 sequestration will result in only one carrier and one Marine amphibious ready group deployed, and it will be in the Pacific. Even if funding is restored in the fall, it will take nine months to recover and get second and third groups deployed. Many believe this consequence alone makes it virtually certain that sequestration cuts, should they initially occur on March 1, will be mitigated and mostly restored by May.

If this happens it could actually cost the Navy more money in the long term. Those companies dependent on O&M funding for ship maintenance are bound to take losses in the near term and their subsequent prices will reflect this. However, these dips could present buy opportunities when the work finally is done. The Navy estimates that delaying ship maintenance two years results in the Navy paying 2.6 times for the same work when the maintenance finally is performed.

Still, as the month comes to a close it appears very likely that sequestration will occur. Senior officials, including chairman of the House Budget Committee Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), have already stated that they believe this will occur. Some Republicans have called for delaying the planned spending cuts in defense while increasing cuts in other areas of the federal government. Democrats have called for any cuts to be balanced to some degree at least with increased revenues. The Pentagon has already begun laying off most of its 46,000 temporary and term employees and cutting maintenance on ships and aircraft in an effort to slow spending before nearly $50 billion in new cuts are due to go into effect on March 1.

Defense Bill  

On January 2, President Obama signed a $633 billion defense bill for next year, despite serious concerns about the limits Congress imposed on his handling of terror suspects and lawmakers’ unwillingness to back the cost-saving retirement of aging ships and aircraft.

President Obama had threatened to veto the measure due to a number of concerns, but relented because he couldn’t pick and choose specific sections. However, in a statement, the president spelled out his concerns about restrictions on his ability to carry out his constitutional duties as commander-in-chief. Specifically, he complained that the bill limited the military’s authority to transfer third-country nationals being held at a detention facility in Parwan, Afghanistan. He also took issue with restrictions on his authority to transfer terror suspects from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

“Decisions regarding the disposition of detainees captured on foreign battlefields have traditionally been based upon the judgment of experienced military commanders and national security professionals without unwarranted interference by members of Congress,” President Obama wrote. He said the section of the bill related to detainees in Afghanistan threatened to upend that tradition, and could interfere with a president’s ability, as commander-in-chief, to make time-sensitive determinations about the appropriate disposition of detainees in an active combat theater.

President Obama promised when he took office four years ago to close the prison at Guantanamo, but Congressional opposition from Republicans and some Democrats have prevented him from fulfilling that vow. The law limits his authority to transfer terror suspects to foreign countries or move them to the United States. President Obama has insisted he still believes Guantanamo should be shuttered because operating the facility “weakens our national security by wasting resources, damaging our relationships with key allies, and strengthening our enemies.”  The president said his administration will interpret the bill’s provisions, and if they violate the constitutional separation of power, he will implement them in a way to avoid that conflict.

The law puts off the retirement of some ships and aircraft, and President Obama warned that the move could force reductions in the overall size of the military as the Defense Department faces cuts in projected spending. It also included cuts in defense spending that the president and Congressional Republicans agreed to in August 2011, along with the end of the war in Iraq and the drawdown of American forces in Afghanistan.

The new budget does authorize $528 billion for the Defense Department’s base budget, $17 billion for defense and nuclear programs in the Energy Department, and $88.5 billion for the war in Afghanistan. The measure is about $29 billion under the current level, largely due to smaller amounts for Iraq and Afghanistan. While there are legitimate concerns as previously suggested over sequestration and the rapid reduction in defense spending, it is also important to note that the U.S. defense budget exceeds the spending of the next 10 countries combined, and most of those states are American allies. Defense spending is roughly 18 percent of all annual federal outlays.

In addition to increasing spending for security at diplomatic missions worldwide after the deadly September 11, 2012 raid in Libya, the measure tightens penalties on Iran in an effort to thwart its nuclear ambitions. The legislated sanctions would hit Iran’s energy, shipping, and shipbuilding sectors as well as Iran’s ports, blacklisting them as “entities of proliferation concern.” The bill would impose penalties on anyone caught supplying precious metals to Iran and sanctions on Iranian broadcasting.

As suicides among active-duty soldiers have accelerated, the bill also allows a commander officer or health professional to ask if a member of the services owns a firearm, if they consider the individual at risk for either suicide or hurting others. The bill includes a Senate-passed provision sponsored by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) that expands health insurance coverage for military women and their dependents who decide to have abortions in cases of rape and incest. Previously, health coverage applied only to abortions in cases where the life of the mother was endangered. The measure includes a 1.7 percent pay raise for military personnel.

International security issues

Visit of President Karzai to Washington  
Afghan President Hamid Karzai arrived in Washington to meet with President Obama and his national security team in early January. Four things were high on the agenda for these meetings:

  1. The level of U.S. forces in Afghanistan after 2014.
  2. The pace of the withdrawal of the 66,000 American forces in the country between now and the end of 2014.
  3. The general outline of a base security agreement (BSA) between Afghanistan and the U.S., which describes where U.S. forces will be based, the type of operations they will conduct, and legal protections for American soldiers serving in Afghanistan after 2014.
  4. Military and economic assistance to Afghanistan in future.

Prior to the meeting, General John Allen, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, put forward his recommendations for residual force levels. It is widely believed that the general’s recommendations included three options that are a function of the capabilities to be retained: 6,000 troops, 10,000 troops, or 20,000 troops.

Option #1: With 6,000 troops, defense officials said, the American mission would largely be a counterterrorism fight of special operations commandos who would hunt down insurgents. There would be limited logistical support and training for Afghan security forces. U.S. forces would be concentrated in one base only: Bagram. This is the “Afghanistan National Security Force (ANSF) is on its own” option.

Option #2: With 10,000 troops, the United States would expand training of Afghan security forces. On top of the troops from option #1, this would provide an additional 4,000 U.S. troops to support training and mentoring in the ANSF. These troops would essentially continue the deployment of training teams currently in place. Some troops would be assigned to ANSF training bases and others would be partnered with ANSF units in the field. In addition to training and mentoring, this option would confer some ability for ANSF units to call in NATO airstrikes. This number of troops is similar to US troop levels in 2003-2004.

Option #3: With 20,000 troops, the Obama administration would add some conventional army forces to patrol in limited areas. On top of the troops from option #2, this option adds 10,000 troops (about one or two brigades) of conventional army forces. It is unlikely that they would be used for patrolling, since the number of troops would be insufficient for that purpose. A more useful function would be a quick reaction force to bail out ANSF units if they got into trouble during specific operations. There would be either one or two major U.S. bases: Regional Command-East in Bagram, and a possible second base at Regional Command-South at Kandahar. This number of troops is similar to U.S. troop levels in 2005-2007.

In the aftermath of the meeting, it is clear that the Obama administration decided on a smaller American “footprint” and a more rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces than some in the Pentagon might have desired. The Obama administration appears poised to keep 6,000 to 9,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan after 2014. This is fewer than previously reported, and most of them would be confined to fortified garrisons near the capital, leaving Afghan troops largely without American advisers in the field to fight a still-powerful insurgency. A force of 9,000 or fewer U.S. troops will be unable to provide any significant advisory, training, mentoring, or combat support programs for the ANSF.

It is also important to realize that the ANSF will be reduced over the next two years. The downsizing of the ANSF is a consequence of two important decisions made by the U.S. and other International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) nations. First, at the NATO summit in Chicago in May 2012, the U.S. and other ISAF nations decided that the ANSF security budget would be reduced from the current $11 billion per year to $4.1 billion per year by the end of 2017. (The U.S. would contribute $2.3 billion, allies would contribute $1.3 billion, and the Afghan government would provide $500 million per year.) Since this new funding level is not enough to support the current force of 352,000 troops, the ANSF would have to shrink to 228,500 troops according to the NATO summit communiqué. The preliminary model for a future total ANSF size, defined by the international community and the government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, envisages a force of 228,500, with an estimated annual budget of $4.1billion. This would be reviewed regularly against the developing security environment.

The process of building the ANSF began in 2003 and was accelerated starting in 2008 in conjunction with the surge of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Today the ANSF, including army, air forces, border guards, and police, is close to a previously planned goal of 352,000 troops. In addition, the Afghan army had planned a complete force structure: armor, artillery, special operations forces, aircraft, logistics, training, intelligence, medical, et cetera.

Given the decisions on the budget and U.S. troop levels, the current size of the ANSF is unsustainable, and a complete force structure cannot be achieved. Therefore, it is no surprise that the buildup of the ANSF has stopped and downsizing has begun. By 2017, the ANSF will be smaller, lighter (fewer heavy weapons), and less well-trained. It also will likely have fewer combat service and support assets. This raises a very serious question: If a force of 352,000 Afghan security personnel plus 100,000 U.S. troops and nearly 40,000 allied troops has not defeated the Taliban, what can Afghanistan expect after this force has been reduced to 228,500 Afghan security personnel and fewer than 9,000 U.S. troops?

The continued presence of American and allied forces in Afghanistan beyond 2014 has also been affected by so-called “green on blue” attacks. Insider attacks on coalition forces have risen steeply over the past two years. In 2012, they caused 15 percent of coalition casualties, as compared to 6 percent in 2011; and 2 percent or less in preceding years. They have become an important part of Taliban strategy, as the coalition drawdown continues in anticipation of the complete handover of security responsibility to Afghan forces in 2014. A BBC report noted that in 2012 “a quarter of the British troops who died in Helmand, were killed in such attacks” and that all six of the British troops killed during the latest six-month tour of duty have died this way.

In the aftermath of President Karzai’s visit, President Obama made several additional announcements at the closing press conference. He discussed the possibility of negotiations with the Taliban as a means to find a political solution to the ongoing conflict. In that regard, the president announced that an office for these discussion would be opened in Qatar in the near future. The Afghan government has also held preliminary discussions with Taliban representatives in Paris. Still, few experts believe that there is much likelihood of even beginning real negotiations in the near future. The president also announced that U.S. forces would shift to a new mission later this spring—training, advising, and assisting with ANSF in the lead. This clearly seems to indicate an accelerated withdrawal of remaining forces between now and the end of 2014 and a lower residual force after that date.

Israeli Elections  
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party suffered serious setbacks during Israeli national elections. While Prime Minister Netanyahu and his ultra-nationalist ally, the Yisrael Beiteinu party, will still retain the largest voting bloc in the 120-seat Knesset with 31 seats, they lost a quarter of the seats they had previously held. The surprise winner was a new centrist party, Yesh Atid, led by a former Israeli television host, Yair Lapid. His party garnered 19 seats in the election.

The newly elected Knesset is now evenly split, with 60 seats each for right-wing ultra-Orthodox parties and center-left and Arab parties. Netanyahu will still remain as prime minister and likely seek to form a coalition that will include Yair Lapid. The election campaign focused more on domestic issues in Israel, including the economy and the growing divisions between the ultra-Orthodox communities and others in Israeli society. One big issue was the fact that Orthodox Jewish young men are exempt from military service. It will be interesting to see in the weeks ahead what effect this election and the new government has on relations between the Israeli leadership and the new Obama national security team, as well as how it affects ongoing concerns in Washington and Tel Aviv over the threat posed by the Iranian nuclear program. 

The Conflict in Syria and Speech By President Assad
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad delivered a speech in early January that had been trumpeted as an offer to seek a political solution to the ongoing civil war. Sadly, his remarks actually seemed to reduce any possibility of negotiations in the near future. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon characterized President Assad’s speech as disappointing and not contributing to a solution that could end the violence which has wracked Syria. American officials characterized President Assad’s plan for a national reconciliation conference as “detached from reality” and merely an attempt to cling to power. President Assad asserted that he would not negotiate with “terrorists,” which is how he has characterized the rebels in the country since the onset of the civil war.

The humanitarian disaster continues to grow. Over nearly two years of unrest and violence, the United Nations now estimates that 60,000 Syrians have been killed. Nearly 600,000 Syrians have registered or are awaiting registration as refugees in neighboring countries, while an additional 2.5 million persons are internally displaced, and 4 million people inside Syria are in need of assistance.

Yet it appears unlikely that any action by the international community will occur in the near future. Both Russia and China continue to block any effort to pass a resolution condemning the Syrian regime in the Security Council of the United Nations. Russia has endorsed the efforts of the UN special representative for Syria, but has declared that any proposal that has as a precondition the departure of President Assad will be opposed. Over $1.5 billion has been pledged by a group of donor countries and regional organizations to provide humanitarian assistance to refugees affected by the ongoing violence.

There have also been continued growing concerns about Syrian chemical stockpiles as the situation has deteriorated. President Obama and many other world leaders have warned the Assad regime repeatedly that the use of such weapons against Syrian rebels or civilians was a “red line” that might result in international action. Israeli leaders have also argued that as Syria descends into chaos, the possibility that these weapons could fall into the hands of terrorist groups or be transferred to Hezbollah in Lebanon cannot be ignored.

In response to these growing concerns, the Israeli air force conducted airstrikes against targets close to the Syrian-Lebanese border in late January. One target is believed to have been a convoy that was transporting SA17 anti-aircraft missiles to Hezbollah. The second target  was a “scientific research center,” now identified as the Centre D’Etudes et de Recherché Scientifique. It was further reported that warehouses at the research center, stocked with equipment necessary for the deployment of chemical and biological weapons, were destroyed in the strike. Syria denounced these raids in the United Nations and both Iran and Hezbollah announced their support and willingness to take additional actions to come to the aid of Damascus.

In addition, Israel has taken several steps in response to the growing Syrian crisis, including deploying its Iron Dome batteries that are designed to intercept missile attacks to the northern portion of the country. Many experts fear that the airstrikes by Israeli, growing numbers of refugees, and expanded violence within Syria, coupled with increased instability in the region, could result in a wider conflict.

The United States has made a modest increase in its forces in the region in response to this growing crisis. U.S. Army soldiers from the 10th Army Air and Missile Defense command from Europe and the 44th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, as well as members of the 32nd AAMDC from Ft. Bliss, Texas have deployed to Turkey. They represent two Patriot missile batteries and are part of a NATO response to a request from the Turkish government to augment its security in light of the ongoing civil war in Syria. Many experts believe this could be the first step in the possible creation of a “no-fly zone” over Northern Syria.

French Military Involvement in Africa  
France conducted two military operations in Africa. In one, French commandoes conducted a daring raid in Somalia to rescue a French hostage that was being held by the radical Islamist group al-Shabaab. Unfortunately, the mission failed and at least two commandoes were killed. It was later reported that the hostage was also killed.

French forces also came to the assistance of the government of Mali in its efforts to stem the advance of Islamist rebels who are affiliated with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). The rebels had been successful over the past several years and had assumed control over a large portion of the country. They had installed Sharia law in the northern areas of the country and threatened to topple the existing government.

France employed both ground forces and airstrikes. It also worked with several other countries in the region to provide forces to aid the Malian government in its efforts against the Islamist rebels. As a result, President François Hollande announced expanded security measures in France to counter any attempt by terrorist groups sympathetic with the rebels. By the end of January, French forces had entered Timbuktu, as well as Kida, which was the last major stronghold for Islamist militants.

In the midst of the French deployment to Mali, a group calling itself either the Masked Brigade or Those Who Sign with Blood Brigade stormed a natural gas drilling facility at Amenas, Algeria and took a number of Algerian and foreign hostages. This is a remote site that is roughly 1,000 miles from Algiers, the Algerian capital. The leader of the group, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who was not physically present in Amenas, stated in a video that the operation was in retaliation for France’s military intervention in Mali, and the decision by the Algerian government to allow French military aircraft to transit Algerian airspace. Belmokhtar is believed to be affiliated with AQIM and is widely known in the region for his involvement in drug smuggling, weapons, hostage taking, and extortion,. He has at times been referred to as “Mr. Marlboro.”

The standoff ended when Algerian special operations forces stormed the facility. Forty-eight hostages, including three Americans, were killed, as well as 29 militants. It is believed that the group intended to blow up the facility and kill all of the hostages in the process. This would have not only galvanized public opinion but would have been a serious blow to the Algerian economy, since the site provides roughly 10 percent of the natural gas exported by the country.

The United States and Britain provided assistance to France during their military operations in Mali. The U.S. Air Force provided refueling support, logistics, troop transport, and intelligence sharing. It is also reported that the U.S. military is preparing to establish a base for drones in northwest Africa to increase surveillance of Islamist extremist groups operating in the region. There appear to be no plans at present to deploy armed drones to this base.

African countries and members of the international community have now pledged $455 million to assist an African-led military intervention in Mali. This may allow most French forces to largely depart in the near future but the threat posed by Islamist groups will continue in Mali and the region. Most experts fully believe that weak governments across North Africa, porous borders, and large supplies of weapons offer AQIM and related groups an opportunity that they will likely attempt to exploit. While the Malian government with French support may have reasserted control over the urban areas of the country, Islamist rebels will likely still be able to operate from the countryside.

Media Security Issues
The following are a brief summary of the major national security issues that the media focused on during the month.

Tensions Rising on the Korean Peninsula  

The UN Security Council voted for additional sanctions against North Korea in the aftermath of the December launch of the Unha3, a long-range rocket. The launch was viewed as a clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions. In the aftermath of this decision, North Korea has issued new threats against South Korea and the United States. It described the expansion of the sanctions as an act of war and appears to be preparing for a new nuclear test. North Korea also argued that the successful launching of a satellite into space by South Korea was a provocative act that would increase tensions on the peninsula.

Border Violence Between India and Pakistan  
Two attacks occurred along the Line of Control in Kashmir between India and Pakistan. Pakistan accused India of a cross-border raid in the disputed Kashmir territory, killing at least one Pakistani soldier and critically wounding another. But Indian officials say their troops fired across the border after being attacked from Pakistan.

These were the first such attacks in a number of years and resulted in casualties on both sides. India’s defense minister condemned the killing of two Indian soldiers and vowed that there would be a response. Still, most experts believe the incident is unlikely to seriously affect the peace process that has dramatically improved diplomatic ties between the two countries. It is still important to remember that most experts believe the border between India and Pakistan remains one of the most dangerous locations on the planet.

General Allen Cleared by Department of Defense Inspector General
Marine General John Allen, commander of U.S. and ISAF forces in Afghanistan, had been the subject of a Department of Defense inspector general (DODIG) investigation over emails he allegedly sent to a Jill Kelly, volunteer female social aide to CENTCOM headquarters in Tampa, Florida. This was part of the larger investigation concerning an extramarital affair that former CIA director Dave Petraeus had with a woman who  wrote his biography and who had exchanged correspondence with Kelly.

As a consequence, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced in December that Allen’s nomination to become NATO supreme allied commander (SACEUR) had been temporarily placed on hold. The DODIG announced that Allen had been cleared, and the Obama administration reinitiated his nomination to the Senate. Allen is scheduled to be replaced by Marine General Joseph Dunford in mid-February. Dunford recently served as deputy commandant of the Marine Corps and curiously has no previous experience in Afghanistan. 

DOD Lifts Ban on Women in Combat
Secretary Panetta announced that the military would remove all restrictions from females serving in combat assignments and associated military occupational specialties. The secretary gave the services until 2016 to implement the decision or present analysis why women should continue to be blocked from certain combat specialties.

Supporters of this decision believe this is a question of equality, and a lawsuit had been filed by a female Army colonel and command sergeant major against the Department of Defense in the U.S. District Court in Washington, DC. Opponents have traditionally opposed females in combat assignments due to concerns about its effect on overall combat effectiveness. They argue that women in large numbers cannot meet physical fitness requirements (such as upper body strength), and that it would have an adverse impact on males in such units who might tend to try and protect females as opposed to being mission-focused. Other concerns have been physical hygiene during extended combat tours, sexual harassment, danger of female soldiers becoming prisoners of war, and pregnancy. It will be particularly interesting to see how this debate is conducted for the assignment of females to special operations units, such as SEALS, Rangers, Delta Force, and Special Forces. The military also announced that female helicopter pilots could now serve in the elite special operations aviation unit, Task Force 160, that flew the mission which resulted in the killing of Osama bin Laden

General Observations  
As we look ahead I would make the following final comments.

Confirmation Hearings and Senate Votes
As previously noted, John Brennan will appear for his confirmation hearings in early February. He will be asked very difficult questions about his involvement in rendition and decisions with respect to waterboarding detainees. It is also very likely that the use of drone strikes against terrorist groups in Pakistan, Yemen, and elsewhere will be raised.

Continued Budgetary Crisis and Sequestration
Sequestration looms on the horizon and is scheduled to be implemented on March 1. It will be interesting to see if either party entertains a serious effort to resolve this crisis or spends the majority of the next month trying to blame its political opponents. Furthermore, the nation will begin to see the serious economic consequences that sequestration may have on a still fragile economy. 

Possibility of a Nuclear Test by North Korea  
It appears very likely that North Korea will conduct a third nuclear test in the next few weeks. While this will increase tensions on the Korean peninsula, it may also have a positive benefit. It will provide a much clearer idea of how far the North Korean program has progressed.

Egypt in Turmoil
Thousands of Egyptians throughout the country have demonstrated against the government of President Mohammed Morsi. Morsi’s opponents have even taken to Cairo’s Tahrir Square to demand his overthrow and carried their protest to the doors of the presidential palace. As many as 65 people have been killed in violent clashes since January 25. This prompted the head of the army to declare the state is on the verge of collapse. Those opposed to the government are furious with the new constitution drawn up since Morsi came to power after Hosni Mubarak was ousted two years ago. This new wave of the Arab Spring could have dramatic consequences should Egypt collapse into the type of civil violence we are now witnessing in Syria.

Dr. Jeff McCausland is Founder and CEO of Diamond6 Leadership and Strategy, LLC. His most challenging and unique leadership experience was leading and commanding 750 troops into the first Gulf War. He is proud to say that everyone came home healthy and safe.

Leading with a Purpose: “Leader’s Intent” to Inspire and Empower Your Way to Business Success

“I suppose dozens of operations orders have gone out in my name, but I never, throughout the war, actually wrote one myself … one part of the order I did, however, draft myself – the intention.  It is always the most important, because it states … just what the commander intends to achieve.  It is the overriding expression of the will by which everything in the order and every action by every commander and every soldier in the army must be dominated.”
– Field Marshal William Slim, British Commander in Burma, World War II

Field Marshal Slim knew the value of empowering his command and so should you.  In today’s uncertain business environment innovation is key.  “Leader’s Intent” drives innovation and makes you successful.  This article will show you how to develop it and use it.

Successful growth demands innovating and adapting to ever changing circumstances by perceptive and flexible leadership.  Many corporate leaders earn their way to key decision making positions by hard work and innovative management techniques.  Yet, today’s leaders must take on the additional and essential responsibility of driving innovation in order to successfully adapt to the changing dynamics of their business environment.  The use of the concept of  “Leader’s Intent” as a daily tool to inspire and empower their employees will give leaders a huge advantage in effective adaptation required for success.

The nature of leadership includes the critical responsibility to envision how the company or organization should change to meet the requirements of the future.  The leader uses all his assets and talented subordinates to help him form the best vision, but ultimately, he makes the decision on what the vision says.  His critical role becomes communicating that vision to the organization and any outside organizations that will help the company attain the vision of the future.  The “Leader’s Intent” becomes the tool that best helps the leader affect this communication for the success of his company.

“Leader’s Intent” succinctly describes what constitutes success for the organization.  This idea can be used by the Company President for the lofty goals of a company’s five-year business plan and just as appropriately by the Packing Team Leader for the daily and routine tasks as they deal with customers.  The “Leader’s Intent” is a clear and concise statement of what the organization must do and the conditions it must establish with respect to its business requirements (customer satisfaction, meeting business standards, profit/loss) to meet the successful end-state.  The end-state may be meeting long-term growth targets in the company’s yearly plan or it may be the successful delivery of 20,000 lbs of household goods from coast to coast with no claims of loss or damage.

The leader spends the time to craft his vision of the company’s operation and the desired end-state.  He uses his experience, research and judgment in order to be creative.  His description of the desired end-state allows his subordinates to act quickly as opportunities appear, because they have a shared understanding of the purpose and the goal of the operation. Subordinates know their leadership will back them, because they understand where the leader wants the organization to go.  The leader must throw his energy into communicating the intent to the organization once he has crafted it.

Creating the “Leader’s Intent” requires imagination from the leader to determine the purpose, method and end-state for the organization’s task.  These elements should be concise enough for the members of the organization to remember.  Long paragraphs of details will not help.  During the Civil War, General Ulysses S. Grant sent his subordinate, General Sherman, his intent for Sherman’s operations through Georgia in April of 1864, which exemplifies an appropriate “Leader’s Intent”:

“It is my design to work all parts of the Army together and, somewhat towards a common center…You I propose to move against Johnston’s army, to break it up and to get into the interior of the enemy’s country as far as you can, inflicting all the damage you can against their war resources. I do not propose to lay down for you a plan of campaign, but simply lay down the work it is desirable to have done and leave you free to execute it in your own way. Submit to me, however, as early as you can, your plan of operations.”

Grant states the purpose and end-state of breaking up Confederate General Johnson’s Army and the method by inflicting damage to the resources of the Confederacy.  Grant empowered General Sherman to use his imagination to carry out Grant’s intent.  The United States Army uses this technique to insure subordinate commanders can act rapidly on a fluid battlefield to take advantage of fleeting opportunities to achieve success.  The Army calls this, “Commander’s Intent.”

An ideal “Commander’s Intent” for an Army operation will be a clear and concise statement that is 3-5 sentences long in the form of:

  • Purpose
  • Method
  • End-state

The purpose states the ultimate goal of the task.  The method may list several essential tasks that the organization must accomplish to create the right conditions for the end-state.  The end-state defines success in terms of friendly forces, the enemy, terrain and civil considerations.  The equivalent business end-state defines success in terms of your organization and the competition, profit and loss, the satisfaction of clients and or business partners.  The key is to create a clear intent that your subordinates will understand and can use to make decisions on their own.

This very practical tool for leaders is a method to set the conditions for a desired future end-state.   Because the leaders at all levels focus on communicating the intent, it empowers the organization to take action.  The opportunity for communication gives leaders at all levels the platform to motivate and inspire the whole organization.  The spirit from the intent gives the organization a common purpose as the employees accomplish their daily tasks.  It allows subordinates to work toward the future without specific instructions and allows them to take appropriate fast action when time is essential.

Just as Sir William Slim wanted his soldiers to know their part in combat, the leaders of any organization can use “Leader’s Intent” to give their organization a common purpose for every task.  Then, the leaders can tap into the creativity and new ideas generated by a motivated organization.  It will also allow leaders to probe the work force to find out the degree of common understanding and help the leadership continuously redefine and better direct the company into a successful future.  Inspired, motivated, knowledgeable and empowered employees will carry businesses to success.


Stan Florer, President of S F Dynamic Solutions, LLC, supports organizations large and small to help them more effectively develop their leadership and management teams.  He brings to his clients his experience from a 28-year career in the Army and ten years of business consulting.  His Special Forces leadership positions in wartime Command as well as education and training development give him the insight needed in today’s education, business and defense related government organizations.

Lincoln and Strategic Vision

The movie Lincoln is a case study in how a leader creates a vision for an organization, communicates that vision, and evolves the vision over time.  Lincoln realized a leader must develop and articulate a vision in a fashion that followers can “digest” and accept.  The leader must also take advantage of important moments to communicate changes to the vision.  These refinements must be both timely and timed to occur when the organization is focused on an intermediate step.

Abraham Lincoln arrived in Washington in the spring of 1861 firmly opposed to slavery.  Still in his first inaugural address he stated that he did not intend to interfere with slavery where it existed.  Rather he described a vision focused on preserving the Union and preventing war.  He knew that to argue for the elimination of the so-called “peculiar institution” at that moment would insure war, prevent any possibility of reconciliation with Southern states, and might not be widely accepted even in the North.

Following the attack on Ft. Sumter the nation rallied to preserve the Union.  By the summer of 1862, however, Lincoln realized that the time had come to expand on his initial vision and began secret discussions with his cabinet on the Emancipation Proclamation.  Late that summer he achieved agreement on a draft document and announced it following a Union victory at the Battle of Antietam in September.  Still it only freed slaves in the “states under rebellion” and did not go into effect until 1 January 1863.  Consequently, it had no effect on slaves in the border states and if any southern state had returned to the Union in the intervening months they could have retained their slaves.  When any leader announces an evolution in the organization’s vision it is met with opposition.  Frederick Douglass (himself a former slave) ridiculed the President for not ending slavery throughout the entire nation.  Others who had supported the war to preserve the Union announced their firm opposition to any effort to expand the goals of the war to end slavery.

On a cold day in the autumn of 1863 Lincoln mounted a stage at the Gettysburg cemetery to make “a few appropriate remarks”.  He delivered an address of 272 words which may be the clearest and most concise statement of a strategic vision in the English language.  He began by telling the audience where they and the country had been – four score and seven years ago which connected these remarks with the Declaration of Independence and its opening statement of essential values – we hold these truths to be self-evident that all Men are created equal.  He then moved to where the nation was that afternoon.  Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war.  Lincoln concluded with a statement of a revised vision for the future.  That this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. 

By the spring of 1864 the Union Army was bogged down outside Richmond in a series of bloody battles of attrition. Many Republicans had begun to argue that Lincoln should not be nominated for a second term.  The fall of Atlanta in September to General Sherman, however, restored the nation’s confidence.  Lincoln was reelected President on a campaign slogan of “Liberty and the Union” which summarized the theme of the Gettysburg Address.

As dramatically portrayed in the movie the stage was set for the debate over an amendment to end slavery forever in January 1865.  Many of Lincoln’s supporters argued that this was premature and urged him to wait until the war was over.  But the President overrode the opposition and succeeded in securing passage of the amendment.

On March 4, 1865 Lincoln ascended the podium at the Capitol for his second inaugural address.  The war had lasted four years and over 600,000 Americans had died, but Union armies appeared close to victory.  Everyone in the audience had lost someone – brother, father, son, nephew, etc.  The President could called for retribution against Confederate leaders (Lee, Davis, etc.), and the audience would have likely endorsed the sentiment.  But Lincoln returned to his initial vision of preserving the Union.  In 703 words carefully crafted words the re-elected president delivered what he believed to be his finest speech.  He would anchor the hope of the nation’s future with malice toward none and with charity towards all.  In the days that followed the pace of events would accelerate.  In late March Lincoln met with his principal military leaders – General Grant, Admiral Porter, and General Sherman to discuss the end of the war.  As he departed the President gave his commanders his final guidance – Let them up easy.  They would follow this counsel in the terms they offered during the surrender of Confederate armies.

On April 9, 1865 General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to General Grant at Appomattox Courthouse.  The nation rejoiced and on the following evening there were fireworks and parades in Washington.  Crowds assembled on the White House lawn, and Lincoln delivered his final speech.  He reiterated his desire to reconcile the southern states into the Union, but used this opportunity to expand the vision once more.  Lincoln argued that in the war’s aftermath the nation should offer former slaves that had served in the Union Army (over 200,000) full rights of citizenship.  This might seem a logical next step that would be non-controversial, but this was not the case in 1865.  Lincoln knew he was setting the stage for another bitter political debate.

In the crowd that evening was a well-known actor, John Wilkes Booth.   Later that evening Booth met with his fellow conspirators and announced, “that is the last speech that man will ever give”.  Four nights later Booth shot Lincoln at Ford’s Theater, and the President died early the next morning, Good Friday.  Sadly, the vision that Abraham Lincoln had created, evolved, and communicated to the nation would largely remain unrealized for the next hundred years.  Not until the civil rights movement of the 1960’s would the nation return fully to the ideals he had articulated.  It remains a vision of equality and human dignity that we continue to strive for even today.

Dr. Jeff McCausland is Founder and CEO of Diamond6 Leadership and Strategy, LLC. His most challenging and unique leadership experience was leading and commanding 750 troops into the first Gulf War. He is proud to say that everyone came home healthy and safe.

The Value of Assessments

I was recently asked by one of my clients to work with a newly assigned leader who was having a difficult time adjusting to her new position. She had previously broken all sales records in her division and was recognized by being promoted to head the entire international sales team. She was miserable in her new position and her boss was worried that her team was not going to make its quarterly numbers.

It is not unusual for a company to promote a top performer into a leadership position only to have him or her fail miserably.  What happens to those stars for whom we hold such high promise?

Today, many leaders are promoted based upon their technical ability rather than on their leadership skills. They often attained their leadership positions because they were strong individual performers. This approach to promotions is further supported by the focus of many corporate leadership development programs. We often find that these “leadership” programs are really management development programs in disguise, failing to recognize the difference between management and leadership. They focus primarily on the technical knowledge and skills required for the position.  What is often called the “Know” and “Do” part of the job.

Newer research, however, highlights the importance of what many call the “soft” skills required for successful leadership. The research of Rutgers University professor, Daniel Goleman, has found that “…the most effective leaders are alike in one crucial way: they all have a high degree of what has come to be known as emotional intelligence.”  He goes on to write that, “self-awareness is the first component of emotional intelligence.” Self-awareness is a key leadership attribute in today’s global leadership environment and represents the “Be” of leadership, balancing out the “Know” and “Do” described above.

Leadership is about enlisting and engaging others in pursuing organizational mission and sustaining that engagement over time. Leadership is about achieving goals through others – it is a team sport. Communication, facilitation, conflict management, and empathy are just a few of the skills required to build strong leadership teams that can successfully execute a plan and achieve goals.

So let’s go back to our original question: What happens to our star performers who fail when moved into higher level leadership positions? So often the problem is that they were promoted only because of their technical competence as individual performers, not because they were emotionally intelligent, self-aware team leaders. There is a gap between their technical and interpersonal competence.

The good news is that emotional intelligence and self-awareness can be developed in most people.  Just as we can train people in the technical aspects of their jobs, we can also provide experiences that develop the “soft” skills required for successful leadership today.

Personality and behavioral assessments provide an ideal starting point for raising self-awareness and developing the interpersonal skills of leaders. Assessments, such as the Myers-Briggs®, DiSC®, the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) and the Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI®), are used annually with millions of people around the world to improve individual, team and organizational performance.

The use of appropriate assessments can help leaders gain a deep understanding of themselves and how they interact with others. These assessments also provide a common language and approach for understanding differences between people. They are powerful tools that provide invaluable insight for:

  • Interpersonal development
  • Leadership development and coaching
  • Team development
  • Conflict management
  • Executive coaching
  • Employee retention

Trained and certified assessment specialists can provide individualized assessment plans tailored to improve the effectiveness and productivity of your team and your organization.

By the way, that new leader described in the first paragraph is doing fine. I began by using the Myers-Briggs® to help her gain awareness of her innate personality type and the way it influenced her leadership style.  We then expanded our approach by helping her entire team better understand their differences and used that new knowledge to improve their communication and increase team effectiveness. The work continues.

Interested in using personal or team assessments?
Diamond6 has partnered with The Davis Group Ltd. to offer our clients a variety of insightful leadership assessments for individuals and leadership teams. For more information about the assessments we offer check out our Individual & Team Assessments page!

James Davis is President of the Davis Group Ltd. which specializes in leadership development and executive coaching.  His book, Sacred Leadership: Leading for the Greatest Good will be published in May. The Davis Group Ltd. is a close partner and collaborator of Diamond6 Leadership and Strategy, LLC.

Why President Truman Was a Great Leader

The position of President of the United States of America embodies everything that most of us believe and hope for when we think about leadership.  As we celebrate another President’s Day it is only appropriate that we consider the leadership strengths and weaknesses in the men who have occupied this office.  This is particularly poignant now as we are embroiled in a Presidential election campaign.  For the next eight months we will hear frequent analysis of the leadership abilities of President Obama and those who aspire to replace him.

With this in mind let’s examine one of my personal favorites and heroes – Harry Truman and some of the critical leadership attributes that I believe he epitomized.  Harry Truman was a different kind of President. Consider for a moment the challenge that he faced when he became President.  Franklin Delanor Roosevelt, the longest serving President in American history, died suddenly on April 12th 1945.  Truman had only been selected as Roosevelt’s running mate in July 1944.  Prior to Roosevelt’s death Truman had only personally met FDR twice.  As David McCullough, the renowned American historian, once commented, “To many it was not just that the greatest had fallen, but that the least of men – or at any rate the least likely of men – had assumed his place.”

Strategic vision and determination.
Dwight Eisenhower, who would succeed Truman in the presidency, is reported to have said that leadership is about defining a vision and then convincing others to follow it.  Truman clearly made as many or more important strategic decisions regarding our nation’s history as any of the other forty-two Presidents preceding him. Consider for a moment the following brief list of his accomplishments:

  • Assumes the presidency as World War II is coming to a close and must make the difficult decision to use the atomic bomb that brings the war with Japan to a close.
  • Creates the Marshall Plan to aid in European recovery from the devastation of the war.
  • Oversees the immediate aftermath of the war to include the Potsdam Conference and when confronted by Soviet threats begins the Berlin Airlift in 1949.
  • Establishes programs to transition millions of soldiers, sailors, airman, and Marines to civilian life including the creation of the GI Bill that many have argued was fundamental to the nation’s recovery and dramatic economic growth.

All of these demonstrated Truman’s ability to define a vision for the nation and then doggedly pursue it.  But one other event may even more clearly demonstrate these abilities.  Michael Beschloss, the award winning presidential historian, documents in his book, Presidential Courage President Truman’s decision to recognize Israel as a sovereign state in May 1948.  On May 14th 1948 the President signed the order recognizing the Jewish state’s independence and membership in the community of nations.

Truman made this decision despite the strenuous objection of most of this advisers including Secretary of State George Marshall.  Marshall had even told the president that should he take this action Marshall would consider resigning his position and campaigning against Truman in the fall elections.  Many historians also believe that Truman’s wife, Bess was strongly opposed to recognizing the Jewish state.  Truman would later say he made this decision because it was in the best interest of the United States and in the aftermath of the Holocaust there was clear moral obligation to do so.

Authority vs Responsibility.

Frequently, some leaders will use the words authority and responsibility as synonyms.  They are not, and President Truman clearly understood this.  As we move up the leadership ladder we are forced to give more authority to others.  There is no alternative, as we simply cannot do or oversee everything.  This is obviously true for the presidency which is frequently referred to as the most powerful and most difficult leadership position on the planet!  Truman understood, however, that he was responsible to the American people for the successes and the failures of his administration.  To remind him of this fact he kept a plaque on his desk that was copied from that of an Oklahoma prison warden.  It read simply – “The buck stops here!”

Optimism and Hope.

John W. Gardner in his celebrated book, On Leadership, observed that “the first and last task of a leader is to keep hope alive.”  Former Secretary of State and retired General Colin Powell has similarly observed that “optimism in a leader is a force multiplier”.  There is no doubt that Truman publicly displayed an air of optimism that those around him may well have found infectious.

As the presidential elections of 1948 approached few in America gave Truman much chance for reelection.  It was clear at the Democratic Party convention in the summer that spirits were low.  The Republicans had taken control of both houses of the Congress and a majority of state governorships during the 1946 midterm elections by running against Truman.  Public-opinion polls showed Truman trailing Republican nominee Dewey, sometimes by double digits. Furthermore, some liberal Democrats had joined Henry A. Wallace’s new Progressive Party. Many party leaders feared that Wallace would take enough votes from Truman to give the large Northern and Midwestern states to the Republicans.  As a result of Truman’s low standing in the polls, several Democratic party bosses began working to “dump” Truman and nominate a more popular candidate.

Despite this cloud of pessimism, Truman secured his party’s nomination and took his campaign directly to the American people.  In perhaps one of the most celebrated demonstrations of resilience and the ability to come back from adversity in American history, Truman “barnstormed” across the nation.  “Give ’em hell, Harry,” was a popular slogan shouted out at stop after stop along the tour.

In the campaign’s final days many newspapers, magazines, and political pundits were so confident of Dewey’s impending victory they wrote articles to be printed the morning after the election speculating about the new “Dewey Presidency”.  Life magazine printed a large photo in its final edition before the election; entitled “Our Next President Rides by Ferryboat over San Francisco Bay”, the photo showed Dewey and his staff riding across the city’s harbor. Several well-known and influential newspaper columnists, such as Drew Pearson and Joseph Alsop, wrote columns to be printed the morning after the election speculating about Dewey’s possible choices for his cabinet. Alistair Cooke, the distinguished writer for the Manchester Guardian newspaper in England, published an article on the day of the election entitled “Harry S. Truman: A Study of a Failure.” As Truman made his way to his hometown of Independence, Missouri to await the election returns, not a single reporter traveling on his campaign train thought that he would win.

But Truman would win the election by over 2.5 million votes over Dewey in what many still argue is the greatest upset in American political history.  In the photo below Truman is seen gleefully holding up the front page of the Chicago Tribune which had already printed its morning edition for November 3rd 1948.  Truman’s optimism as a leader was key to this victory.

Level 5 leadership
Jim Collins introduced a new term to the leadership lexicon – Level 5 leadership in his book, Good to Great.  Level 5 refers to the highest level in a hierarchy of executive capabilities and this certainly would include the presidency. Leaders at the other four levels may be successful, but are unable to elevate their organizations from mediocrity to sustained excellence.  Level 5 leadership challenges the assumption that transforming any organization from good to great requires larger-than-life-leaders.   According to Collins, humility is a key ingredient of Level 5 leadership. His simple formula is Humility + Will = Level 5.  This would seem to sum up Harry Truman in many ways.

A measure of his greatness may rest on what he did after he left the White House. After President Eisenhower was inaugurated, Harry and Bess drove home to Missouri by themselves. There was no Secret Service following them.  The only asset he had when he died was the house he lived in, which was in Independence, Missouri. His wife had inherited the house (seen in the following photo) from her mother and father.  Other than their years in the White House, they lived their entire lives there.  When he departed the White House in 1952 his income was an Army pension reported to have been $13,507.72 a year. Congress, noting that he was paying for his stamps and personally licking them, granted him an “allowance” and, later, a retroactive pension of $25,000 per year.  In later years when offered corporate positions at large salaries, he declined, stating, “You don’t want me. You want the office of the President, and that doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to the American people and it’s not for sale.”

Even later, on May 6, 1971, when Congress was preparing to award him the Medal of Honor on his 87th birthday, he refused to accept it, writing, “I don’t consider that I have done anything which should be the reason for any award, Congressional or otherwise.”

Perhaps one of the best and final observations about Truman is provided by another great leader, Winston Churchill.  While dining with Truman in Washington during a visit to the United States in January 1950, Churchill admitted his disappointment at first meeting Truman in Potsdam at the end of World War II.  “I must confess, sir,” Churchill said.  “I held you in very low regard then.  I loathed your taking the place of Franklin Roosevelt.”  But he continued, “I misjudged you badly.  Since then, you, more than any other man, have saved Western civilization.”  As we look back on the presidency and life of this man from Missouri many Americans might well agree with Sir Winston’s comments.

Dr. Jeff McCausland is Founder and CEO of Diamond6 Leadership and Strategy, LLC. His most challenging and unique leadership experience was leading and commanding 750 troops into the first Gulf War. He is proud to say that everyone came home healthy and safe.

This article is from our February, 2012 newsletter. Click here to view all our newsletter articles and features.