Chapter 11 Extra Readings

For Lt. Withers, Act of Mercy Has Unexpected Sequel
During World War II, Army Lt. John Withers took in two Jewish survivors who had been freed from Dachau; he went against what everyone else thought he should do and housed the two young men for more than a year. This was dangerous for Withers and the rest of his unit, and could have had a negative impact of his future. Withers claimed, “I think I identified with them very strongly and instantaneously.” The two Jewish boys became known around the unit as Peewee and Salomon, and frequently asked about the United States and the jobs they could possibly find there.

Soon after, Withers got his honorable discharge and went to work on his Ph. D. in Chicago, and he and Peewee lost contact with each other. In 2001 Withers’ son went to work trying to locate Peewee and reunite him and his father. He eventually tracked Peewee down; he had married in Germany in 1948 and later moved to the United States hoping to make his fortune. He worked at a machinery company and helped his wife in the residential-care home they had purchased. When he and Withers met up again they acted as if they had never separated; they were inseparable all weekend and reminisced on their past. Peewee’s family was so surprised, they had never heard him talk about his past, but was so grateful Withers had brought this side out of him.

This story was so touching to me; Withers went against everything he was supposed to by keeping Peewee and Salomon with his unit. He and his unit could have been in so much trouble if someone had found out what they were doing, but he knew what was right and couldn’t bear to send the boys away. It amazes me that Withers was willing to put himself in this danger just to save the boys. What’s best about Withers’ action was that he had no idea the impact it would have on Peewee and Salomon; he knew how they felt and wasn’t willing to go along with the norm. Both Withers and Peewee had lasting effects on each other’s lives, and were able to build a bond that no one else will ever be able to comprehend. By doing what he knew was the right thing to do, Withers changed Peewee and Salomon’s lives, and they too changed Withers’.

How a Marine Lost His Command In Race to Baghdad
Marine Col. Dowdy took on one of his largest missions when he attacked an elite band of Iraqi troops and then shepherded 6,000 men on an 18-hour, high speed race to Baghdad. Upon completion of his mission, he was stripped of his command, which ended his career of 24 years. No one was really sure why he was relieved of duty, but the explanation he received was that it was a decision based on operating tempo.

Dowdy was known for his equal treatment of all of his men, and for his distinction between men and mission, where he always chose his men. They were the most important thing to him, and he was never willing to sacrifice a man just to complete a mission. In his final mission he and his unit received mixed messages and weren’t sure whether to push towards Baghdad or slowly approach the on-going battle. Because he didn’t get a clear cut answer of what to do, Dowdy chose not to go through to the city, it wasn’t worth the risk.

Dowdy’s dismissal causes much controversy because his men had enormous amounts of respect for him and didn’t think he had done anything wrong. One of his men said, “If Col. Dowdy said, ‘Get your gear, you’re coming with me,’ I would’ve gone, even if it meant the end of my career.” This just goes to show how much Dowdy meant to his men, and how much they respected him as a leader. Dowdy is the type of leader I would love to work with; he cared about his followers and wasn’t willing to hurt them just to help his career or his image. He was genuine in his actions and was never worried about anything but the safety of his unit. Dowdy was a true leader.

New Wine, Old Bottles
There’s the old saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” well this applies to leaders and new theories as well. It is hard to encourage executives who have been in leadership positions for years now to change their style and take on these new leadership approaches that have been recently developed. Although it will be hard to convince these senior executives to change their ways, it is very necessary to at least make them aware of the changes and the type of leadership their subordinates will benefit most from.

We are now training leaders to be coaches and sources of help for their followers, rather than being judges and policemen. These new approaches to leadership will help the followers be more independent and successful, without feeling micromanaged. With this new training, the leader needs to commit to the new leadership style because they can’t try to mix the old theories and practices with the new; it will only cause confusion. This will also allow the leader to believe he is acting as a coach while he still practices in his old ways.

The new leadership theories having to do with servant leadership are very successful in my eyes. When a leader connects with his followers and they share a common purpose they will most likely be successful. It makes for a relationship that is built on trust and allows both sides to understand the expectations set up for them. It also helps build the confidence of the follower because they are empowered to accomplish the task at hand and have the leader there as a resource in case they need additional help.

Good Leadership Requires Executives To Put Themselves Last
When we were little we were taught to treat other people like we would want them to treat us, and that it’s not ok to hurt others in our quest for success. So when executives are willing to sacrifice others to promote their self interests, they are going against everything they have learned. This attitude is not something we can simply vote on and make our leaders act this way, it has to be something they believe in and are willing to do.

These executives who act with integrity and are willing to put others before themselves are the ones who will most likely be successful in the long run, even if it puts them at a temporary disadvantage. Michael Leven, chairman and CEO of US Franchise Systems Atlanta, which owns and operates three hotel brands, wasn’t willing lie to the public or hide the fact that they weren’t going to meet year-end earnings forecast. Against the advice of his lawyers, Leven went public and revealed everything, which eventually caused stocks to decline. Leven knew that this was the right thing to do and followed his gut feeling.
Leaders who are transparent with their actions and with company information are seen as trustworthy and are appreciated more than those who hide everything and deceive people into believing everything is perfect. People would rather know ahead of time if something isn’t going as planned, rather than being surprised when it finally blows up and nothing can be done about it. By disclosing this information as soon as the leader knows about it, they give people the opportunity to provide input that might be able to help the situation. I know I would much rather work with a leader who keeps me informed of what is going on, even if the information they have is bad news.

Level 5 leadership
Level 5 leadership is without a doubt the best type of leadership, but there are characteristics from each level that if combined together, could produce a phenomenal leader. From level 1 you can take the ability to contribute, whether it be skills no one else has, different views and ideas, or a positive attitude that will rub off on others. From level 2 you can take the ability to work with others, an attribute that most people don’t understand the importance of. From level 3 you can take the ability to organize those you’re working with, so everyone understands expectations and is working towards a common goal. From level 4 you can take the ability to stimulate high performance of others in the groups and project a clear vision. In level 5 leadership the leader “builds enduring greatness through a paradoxical combination of personal humility plus professional will.”

If someone was able to possess all of these qualities, which would be very hard, they would be a very successful leader, with followers who are independent and ready to take on any obstacle in their path to success. The followers would be more engaged and would be able to hold themselves accountable for anything that happens.

Published in: on November 1, 2009 at 4:47 PM  Leave a Comment  

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