Leaders & Manager – Here’s more

Ask yourself, what do the following people all have in common?

• Adolph Hitler
• Nelson Mandela
• Margaret Thatcher
• General Dwight D. Eisenhower
• Winston Churchill
• General George S. Patton
• General Colin Powell
• Franklin D. Roosevelt
• Jack Welch

They all are or were leaders.

So your comment might be:

“Wait a minute! I agree with most of them, but you can’t call that mad man Hitler a leader!”

I am not saying he was a great leader. Far from it. By any measurement you use, Hitler was a madman and should have been taken out long before he was. Had some of those attempts to asssinate him succeeded, the war might have ended a lot sooner.

But think about it for a minute. For a long time he convinced millions of Germans to follow him.

Although the results were deplorable, you have to admit that only a leader could persuade so many people for so long, that what he was doing was right. Of course, in Hitler’s case, once some of his top military officers realized how much of a madman he was and how badly they had been misled, they made numerous attempts to assassinate him. Too bad they did not succeed!

You will find certain traits common to both the Hitlers and the Churchills in our history. The difference is in how they used that ability to get people to follow their lead. Here are some of the traits used by both.

Leaders are:

Punitive – You are either with them or against them. If you are not with them, you are gone. Hitler had you shot. Jack Welch booted you out.

Manipulative – They continuously push the dream, whether it be to become the biggest and the best company or ruler of the world.

Mistrustful – They are suspicious of any other agenda, always on watch that the ideas of others don’t weaken their dream.

Power users – They know how to use power and they are not afraid to do so.

You will see most, if not all of these traits in leaders. For our purposes we will concentrate only on those leaders that used those traits for the good of the organizations they were a part of.

General Eisenhower (Ike) probably wanted to kill General George S. Patton with his bare hands many times during World War II. Patton offended almost everyone he ever met, including the English, the French and in particular, the Russians.

Yet Ike knew that when all was said and done, Patton made things happen. When push came to shove, he backed Patton when almost everyone else wanted Patton’s head on a stick. That’s what an effective leader does.

You may agree or disagree with Patton’s place in history, but you cannot argue with his persistence and his leadership. That persistence was a part of his entire life.

Early on, he wanted a diploma from West Point. He finally got it after waiting three years to be accepted and taking five more years to graduate.

When he was removed from his command in World War II, he pestered everyone to get back into the war. He knew in his mind that he had what it took to help win it and he never gave up trying to get back in.

In spite of his often saying and doing the wrong thing at the wrong time, he was one of the most successful military commanders in history. He gave his commanders tremendous latitude to get the job done and he backed them all the way.

He named the goal and in a few very colorful words he simply said, “Get me there!” He didn’t tell them how to drive their tanks. He didn’t tell the troops how to fight. He just said, “Get me there!”

I am making two points here. One is that leaders back their people when the going gets tough. The other is that successful leaders never give up. Nelson Mandela is another classic example of never giving up.

How about you? Do you back your people even when they embarrass the hell out of you? Do you give up when the going gets tough? When I coach leaders, one of the things I preach is to take action. Leaders who can’t or won’t make tough decisons or won’t back their people are not going to make it.

Until next time, take care!

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