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I Don’t Even Know His Name

I Don’t Even Know His Name

An Anti-Fragile Approach to Leadership

An Anti-Fragile Approach to Leadership


By Lt Col Nate Bump
Seeking timeless wisdom is a simple strategy to identify the leadership traits and behaviors necessary for effective military officers. This post will illustrate various timeless truths leaders must first avoid and then seek to apply them using an antifragility concept. It will also specifically identify traits, behaviors, and recommendations to assist younger officers who seek to improve their leadership effectiveness.
Nassim Taleb’s book, Antifragile, details the Lindy Effect and how certain facets of life stand the test of time. Specific examples include religion, texts, stories, currency, and societal systems. Taleb proposes certain “potentially perennial, non-perishable items” exist that actually “age in reverse.” That is, for every additional day something ‘lives,’ its life expectancy increases! Using this framework, we can observe leadership traits and styles based on their staying power throughout the years (think decades and centuries) to focus on the areas (both good and bad) with the highest certainty of remaining relevant to leaders for years to come.

A Collaborative Mindset: Achieving Unity of Effort

A Collaborative Mindset: Achieving Unity of Effort

Joint Task Force-Bravo, U.S. Southern Command Situational Assessment Team members meet with U.S. Agency for International Development representatives to discuss partnerships in the forward joint operations center at San Pedro Sula, Nov. 13, 2020. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Elijaih Tiggs)

By Assad Raza

On February 4, 2021, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin Tweeted he will be leading a Global Posture Review of U.S. military forces worldwide. Moreover, he said, “We need to make sure we have the right capabilities in the right places & we are supporting the work of our diplomats.” Hence, leaders at all levels must be prepared to collaborate and integrate military activities with other organizations to meet national objectives. For this reason, leaders must develop a collaborative mindset to ensure unity of effort.

A collaborative mindset is a combination of several leadership skills that promote open communication horizontally and vertically among stakeholders, working toward common objectives. According to authors Heath and Isbell, these skills include: “recognizing and validating the needs of their fellow stakeholders; separating peoples’ positions from their underlying positions; listening for things that are never quite said; identifying overlapping commonalities; building trust while respecting differences; constructively navigating conflict.” These skills allow leaders to effectively collaborate with diverse groups to meet shared objectives at the tactical and operational levels. However, these skills are generally taught to military leaders later on in their careers.

Leadership Vignette: Mission Command and Command and Control (3 of 4)

Leadership Vignette: Mission Command and Command and Control (3 of 4)

Editorial Note: This vignette is part of a four-part Mission Command series that will run every Tuesday for the next four weeks.

By Kelly McCoy

This vignette is the third in a collection of four designed as a supplement to the 2019 series of mission command articles (Part 1, 2, and 3) led by General Stephen Townsend. The vignettes follow a fictional character, John Miller, through his career as an infantry officer. Each vignette is a stand-alone story reflecting the principles of mission command and how it is applied in terms of leadership. 

If you did not read the introduction and vignette one or vignette two, we would encourage you to do so. Vignette number three follows.

Are You an Electable Leader?

Are You an Electable Leader?

By Sam Redding

If your unit voted, would you be the leader?

Given the recent election, I have been thinking about this a lot lately. What if organizations could vote to decide who is in charge? Let me preface this by saying, this post is not a call for change, but more of a thought experiment; a way to see ourselves. If the people in your organization could vote for their leader, would you make the cut?

How to Wage a Counterinsurgency Against Organizational Culture

How to Wage a Counterinsurgency Against Organizational Culture

 

By Benjamin Ordiway

When dealing with a crisis, spending time having the entire organization stand down may be a missed opportunity to invest in the very people you should be standing up…

There’s an old saying often attributed to investors and farmers: If you want to make two million, start with four. There’s always a bit of truth in humor; it’s the punch in the punchline. The truth is: blindly spending money to make money may leave you staring at the red ticker tape or the barren field in disbelief. Likewise, if leaders in military organizations consider their time in terms of monetary spending, they risk equally unfortunate yields. Time is a non-renewable resource that we never really possess. It is not ours to spend; rather, we are charged to invest it. Managers spend their time. Leaders invest their time.

Alesta: Prologue

Alesta: Prologue

By Michael Burke

“Where the hell is he, and why did I listen to him?,” she murmured under her breath.

  She shouldn’t have let him stay behind. But she always listened to him, she couldn’t help herself.  He was always right in these situations, and always knew what to do. It  didn’t matter though. She was pissed. She knew he was alive, she could still feel him. She never could explain it, she just knew. And right now, in this moment, she knew he was running. 

“Come on babe, hurry up.” 

Through her headset, she could sense the pilot’s urgency, repeatedly telling her they could not wait. “He will be here, I know it. He’s coming, just a few more minutes,” she frantically declared over their obvious frustration and disbelief. 

Then she heard, “Just another minute, my love.”

People First: Mission Limitless

People First: Mission Limitless

“What’s more important, the mission or the people?” 

I spent the last 24 years of my professional career expertly learning how to navigate my way delicately through answering this question, yet never actually giving a real answer. Whether during professional development events, mentorship sessions, or job interviews, as long as I arrived at a conclusion to the tune of “Mission First, People Always,” my answer was generally accepted by whomever was asking the question.  It wasn’t until two years ago, while commanding the largest Joint Squadron in the Joint Special Operations Command, that my answer significantly changed: “People First, Mission Limitless.”

So, what exactly does this mean? Ultimately, this signifies a shift in thinking to where service (mission) is understood as the byproduct of the relationships formed and cultivated across the organization.  It means treating not only servicemembers, civilians and contractors (to the extent legally possible) as part of the team, but also including their significant others into the framework.  I deliberately use “significant others” in lieu of other terms.  Here’s why: while not everyone has a spouse, everyone does have someone significant in their lives.  Leaders at every level should get to know who these key individuals are and bring them into the fold as critical players on the team.  

Leadership Vignette: Mission Command and Command and Control (2 of 4)

Leadership Vignette: Mission Command and Command and Control (2 of 4)

Editorial Note: This vignette is part of a four-part Mission Command series that will run every Tuesday for the next four weeks.

By Kelly McCoy

The following is the second vignette is a series of four designed as a supplement to the 2019 series of mission command articles (Part 1, 2, and 3) led by General Stephen Townsend. These vignettes follow a fictional character, John Miller, through his career as an infantry officer. Each vignette is a stand-alone story reflecting the principles of mission command and how it is applied in terms of leadership. 

If you did not read the introduction and vignette one, we would encourage you to do so. Vignette number two follows:

Conquer This

Conquer This

Editorial note – This blog post is part of our Scribbles series. If interested in submitting creative content, view our guidelines here or contact Cassie Crosby at cassie@fromthegreennotebook.com.

By Phil Mitten

A soldier will fight long and hard for a piece of coloured ribbon.” – Napoleon

My sodden combat assault boots pound the tarmac one by one like the sound of a war drum as I double through a seemingly airless, hazy country lane in the five-miles between me and the finish line back at the Commando Training Centre. I grimace with each step as the buildup of lactic acid in my muscles burns as I move forward. My soul yearns for me to break into a walk and allow my heart and lungs to catch up. I despair at the impossibly thin air as I draw it in, hopelessly trying to satisfy my body’s crushing demand for oxygen.