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.

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.

Leadership Lessons of “Triage”

September marked the 150th anniversary of what is arguably the most decisive battle during the American Civil War – Antietam.  Many historians might contest this point and suggest that Gettysburg was the “high watermark of the Confederacy”.  Still a Union defeat at Antietam would have further delayed Lincoln’s decision to announce the Emancipation Proclamation which redefined the purpose of the war.  It could have also encouraged Britain and France to recognize the Confederacy as an independent nation that could have led to their intervention.  Finally, another Federal defeat in September 1862 would have further inspired those in the North who opposed the war to greater success in that fall’s congressional and state elections.  Sadly, Antietam holds an even greater distinction in American history.  It was the bloodiest single day in the American Civil War.  Over 25,000 Union and Confederate soldiers were killed or wounded in one day of fighting.

But historically wars also have encouraged innovation and the need for leaders to deal with new and frequently enormous problems.  The mass casualties suffered by both sides resulted in rapid advances not only in medicine but also the management and treatment of these huge numbers.  For example, it was during the Battle of Antietam that a young woman from Washington, Clara Barton, would appear with a wagon of supplies to treat the wounded.  Her efforts during the remainder of the war would eventually result in the creation of the American Red Cross.

It was also at about this time that a young Union Army Captain, Jonathan Letterman, would begin to ponder how to deal with this “wicked problem”.  Letterman would convince the Union Army leadership to assign a doctor to each regiment, organize medical teams that were the advent of today’s medics, and invent the field ambulance.   He also formulated a new method for dealing with mass casualties known as “triage” that General Omar Bradley, the famous World War II commander, would later describe as the greatest innovation in military medicine.

Letterman argued that military doctors and aid workers must be trained to quickly assess the extent of a soldier’s injuries and “triage” or classify the wounded into three groups.  First, were those so badly wounded that they were deemed terminal with no hope of recovery.  These were managed by chaplains and nurses who could make them as comfortable as possible.  Second, were wounded whose treatment could be delayed.  They might require some immediate treatment to stem the bleeding, but this could be handled by nurses or medical orderlies.  Third, the soldiers with injuries that if they were immediately addressed had a good chance of survival.  They were moved quickly surgery and the immediate attention of the available doctors.

“Triage” saved countless lives during the Civil War and in conflicts ever since.  But it is also a concept that leaders can apply as they deal with a mounting number of problems that clog their inbox on a daily basis.  Leaders must quickly scan their email or office inbox and ask themselves the following questions:

  • First:  Which problems are terminal or have been overcome by events?  There still may be issues of so-called “consequence management”, that may need to be confronted, but these can often be handled by others in the organization.
  • Second:  Which problems can be delayed or deferred?  We sometimes need to consider whether a problem is “ripe”?  Is it time to deal with it or should we let it evolve?  Can others in the organization deal with this problem which will both free up critical time for senior leaders (like the few doctors at Antietam) and allow subordinates an opportunity to both better develop their potential and confidence?
  • Third:  Is this an issue that demands the immediate attention of senior leaders?   Does this problem directly affect the essence of our organization, or is this an opportunity that the organization cannot fail to miss?

Making this calculation is invaluable to leaders.  It further forces them to understand that some problems are “wicked problems” like mass casualties during the American Civil War.  These are those challenges that are probably never “solved” but are “managed”.  For example, our national leaders will likely never solve the threat posed by AIDS, poverty, world hunger, etc.  But the importance of these problems demands every effort to “manage” them as effectively as possible and move us in the direction of a long term solution.  Every organization has such problems that will unlikely be “solved” at least during the term of the current leadership, but they must be “managed”.  Failing to do so can have dramatic consequences just as it did on the.

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.

4 Styles of Leadership for Greatest Impact

Several months ago, over a really great steak dinner, I got into a conversation about a local company that had recently replaced its long-time, universally admired CEO with a “turn-around” specialist whose mandate was to prepare the organization for a rapidly changing and uncertain future. Almost immediately he had established new work rules and procedures that left many employees both confused and concerned that they would be fired for violating policies that they really weren’t clear on. Essentially the new CEO had decided that the best way to increase performance was to have the employees constantly in fear of losing their jobs. As the dinner conversation progressed one of the other participants made the comment that while he didn’t necessarily agree with this top-down, authoritarian approach he did think it was a “very effective leadership style.” My response was that it could be a very effective, short-term “management style” but because of the lasting effects it was having employee morale it wasn’t a very good “leadership style.”

For those of us in leadership development, probably the most frequently asked question is “what is the difference between leadership and management?” For me the answer is pretty simple; management gets you through the day, leadership gets you to tomorrow. Where the confusion usually starts is that while short-term results must be a concern of every leader, if how you achieve those results negatively affects the long-term performance of the organization, and the people who report to you, then you’ve failed in your responsibilities as a leader. (Very important note: your best employees almost always have other options.) Your leadership style will ultimately determine the lasting success of your organization and the people who depend on you.

Before we start to look at the different leadership styles you need to keep a few things in mind. First, you already have a natural leadership style, the roots of which were largely beyond your control. It’s based upon your personality and emotional intelligence, your background and role models, past experience as to what worked and what didn’t, and where you are in your career and life. Secondly, there is no one style that is perfect for every situation you will encounter. Some will call for your using an “inspirational” style; others will require that you use an “authoritarian” style. While you do have your natural style that you will feel most comfortable with, you are capable of using many of the other styles. What you need to constantly keep in mind is that there are both benefits and consequences to every style. Finally, never underestimate the ability of the people you lead to detect when you are trying to be someone you are not. While you may need to adapt your leadership style to the situation, you have to make sure that you are authentic in both your words and actions.

The Four Styles

There are at least 10 generally recognized and accepted leadership styles, covering everything from “Transactional” to “Servant”. I want to focus on the four that have the potential for the greatest impact, both positively and negatively.

Autocratic – The autocratic leader has complete, or near complete power, and isn’t afraid to use it. This is the “because I said so” style of leadership. The advantages to the autocratic style are speed and efficiency. The disadvantages are the tendency to create an atmosphere of fear and passivity – autocratic leaders create compliance, they don’t develop commitment. The autocratic style is a staple of TV sitcoms and cartoons but has limited use in a world where empowerment and buy-in are crucial for success. (This style also requires more of the leader’s time and energy to be focused on day-to-day operations.) Because of the potential negative effects, the use of the autocratic style should be limited to emergencies, issues of safety, and occasionally situations where time is critical.

Bureaucratic – Leadership by the book – or policy manual. This style is the backbone of organizations where consistency is a priority and/or the time it takes to make individualized decisions is not an option. The bureaucratic style is ideal for keeping large organizations functioning but runs the risk of stifling creativity and leaving followers feeling like a number. It can also provide leaders with a convenient shield from having to make tough decisions. Every organization needs established policies and procedures. This is especially true for large and geographically spread out organizations. The question that leaders need to ask themselves is “is our bureaucracy keeping us running smoothly or keeping us from reaching our potential?”

Relationship Oriented – This style focuses on the long-term development of the organization and the individuals involved. Team building and personal development are as important as results and you are willing to let your people take risks and make mistakes (within reason.) Relationship Oriented leadership is based firmly in the belief that leadership isn’t about the leader but about providing everyone in the organization the opportunity to shine. Relationship Oriented leaders understand their followers’ strengths, goals, and challenges and use that knowledge to create the strongest team. This takes extra effort and isn’t always the fastest approach to getting things done, but ultimately it should create an organization where the leader has confidence in his follower’s ability to perform.

Transformational – Transformational leaders focus on the future, developing a vision and then making it a reality. They don’t just create the “organization of tomorrow”, they help create the organization of the next 20, 50 or 100 years. Transformational leaders not only look at what their organization is doing now, they are constantly looking at what could be, and should be doing. Transformational leaders have to understand their industry and business but they also have to keep up on trends and practices in other industries as well as cultural, demographic, and technological changes that may affect them. This style often requires a support team to help monitor day-to-day operations.

So what do you do now? I’ve put you in a seemingly impossible position by telling you that some leadership styles are better than others but that you already have a developed style and that you run the risk of creating problems if you come across as inauthentic. As with most leadership competencies the most important thing is that you are aware of your style(s) and how it is impacting your organization. If you are experiencing high employee or volunteer turnover you may need to look at whether or not you are too autocratic. If you constantly seem to be behind others in your industry are you too bureaucratic? If you are in a middle management position and responsible for making sure deadlines are met you may need to mix in the autocratic style more frequently, at least until the effects of your transformational style initiatives kick in.

Think of the styles as not only the base of your leadership ability but also a set of tools that you can use to increase your leadership effectiveness – and make sure that you’re never the topic of a negative dinner conversation.

John Rinehart has been involved in leadership development for over 15 years.  He is a graduate of the Pennsylvania State University RULE Rural Leadership Program, and served as Vice President of the program’s Advisory Board. John has also worked with organizations across Pennsylvania on visioning, strategic planning, and organizational development and was recently published in “In the Company of Leaders: 40 Top leadership experts provide proven guidance for your leadership journey.”

A Look at Current U.S. Security Issues

(Article originally published by the Carnegie Council)

As part of the ongoing debate over the budget and potential for “sequestration” at the end of the year, the administration appears to be trying to make a case for BRAC as it defends the details of its annual budget proposal.

Some may argue that this is simply an effort to “encourage” Congress to confront the issue of reducing the nation’s overall deficit through both budget cuts and tax increases. Others could suggest it is in response to the House-passed budget that attempts to prevent sequestration, in part, by large reductions in social programs. Clearly, few congressmen are interested in BRAC during an election year. Still, the battle lines are being drawn in this part of the debate and the administration presented some of its proposals in concert with its requests for military construction.

In congressional testimony, the Pentagon’s chief financial officer told the Senate Armed Forces Committee that the Defense Department’s (DOD) request for $11.2 billion for military construction and family housing in the fiscal 2013 budget would “balance the armed forces’ needs with the nation’s economic situation.” Comptroller Robert F. Hale also requested more rounds of base realignments and closures in fiscal 2013 and 2015. He argued that “Even with planned force cuts . . . BRAC is the only effective means to meet that goal.”

CLICK HERE to read the full article.

Three Steps to Leading Effective Teams

Picture this: your boss is on a “teams” kick.  It seems as though everyone in the organization has been scheduled for surgery to conjoin hips. For awhile, the staff wonders, “why didn’t we do this before?” But then reality sets in: dysfunctional conflict erupts, goals are not being met, members “miss” meetings, and people yearn for the days when decisions could be made without having to run everything by “the committee”…

Two relevant articles on “Teams” and “Strategic Foresight” recently appeared in the Diamond 6 newsletter; I hope you read both. A primary reason organizations fail to unlock the potential of the people in the organization is because those who should be leading see the latest “fad” and without strategic foresight, attempt to employ the latest craze assuming all will be well. Too many of those who should be leaders take a stab at doing something, anything!, to make the organization more effective; teams are a common approach.  But teams are not a panacea – they are one of many tools leaders can employ to improve operations, if employed appropriately. Here’s a “prescription” that should accomplish multiple goals, including reducing the “burnout” felt by the people in your teams:

  • Adopt a “continuous improvement” mindset – no organization is perfect, but that shouldn’t keep us from pursuing perfection.
  • Become a “learning organization” – one of the key tenets we promote in our quest to help unlock the potential of people in organizations is the understanding that as humans, we are prone to make mistakes. When a mishap occurs, too many bosses jump to the “punishment” phase without carefully exploring why the mistake took place. Many of these problems involve organizational constraints or failures to adequately train and equip those whom we have tasked to accomplish our mission.
  • Employ the proper techniques to meet the needs of your situation – “teams” is one of these. When used properly, teams can spark an explosion in productivity.  The first concern: how will you know you have truly employed a team?

During my initial foray into the workings of an organization I usually find “groups”, not “teams”. The difference in results is stark.  Although there are numerous distinctions that can be argued, two primary items required for teams to be functional (and avoid collaboration burnout!) are accountability and effectiveness. We all know that what gets measured gets done. Using metrics to establish your goals and serve as your “yardstick” is only a starting point.  Although objective items are easier to measure (e.g., increased sales), subjective measures must also be employed (e.g., how well is the team “working”?). To grow, team members must be open to ideas for improvement. An essential item is the one most of us abhor: the fear of receiving feedback that is anything but complimentary. It can be virtually paralyzing in an environment that lacks trust.  Employing the 3 steps outlined above is a good starting point to establishing trust. Add in a strong measure of respect – for and from each member of the organization. It will go a long way toward building an environment within which teams can thrive. An example of respect is the right of refusal – an incredibly important topic we will explore in a future article where we will also discuss additional ways to avoid “burnout”.

The initial keys: ensure you have taken the time to develop your Strategic Foresight; communicate that vision to the people in your organization; employ the 3 tenets of an effective organization (i.e., focus on continuous improvement, become a learning organization, and employ the proper tools to meet the needs of the organization); establish an environment of trust and respect for all members of the organization; reap the rewards; and celebrate victories. If we show people the fruits of their labors and the effect their efforts have on the organization, they will be more likely to “move on” to the next target with vigor and a desire to accomplish even the most difficult mission.

People who are challenged and rewarded will be glad to take a break at the end of the week but will also look forward to showing up on Monday…make that a goal.


Ken Pasch is President of the leader development company Ki (pronounced “key”) Visions and author of “Become the Boss You Always Wanted”.  Ki Visions and Diamond 6 work collaboratively.  The full Ki Visions lineup includes: coaching, consulting, keynotes, and training.  Ken also teaches at the Smeal College of Business at Penn State.  Ken’s primary purpose: helping good people…become great leaders!