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BY: JAMES F. O’NEIL

“The best leaders enjoy the trust of their subordinates, peers, and superiors.” –Lt. Col. Pete Kilner, USA (Ret.)

How did Capt. James Miller earn and maintain trust in Saving Private Ryan?

How did U.S. Army Lt. (later Maj.) Richard Winters [1918-2011] command (not demand) respect in Band of Brothers–and, in the actual “Easy Company of the 101st”?

In my many courses “back then,” studying leadership and especially educational leadership, I learned theories X, Y, and Z; and A, B, and C; Reddin, Blake & Mouton, and McGregor; and on and on and on. All good, valuable, one building upon the next, or discarding the weak points of another. Even the oldest “Peter Principle” (1969) served as a textbook in one of my graduate classes (along with Up the Down Staircase).

Many years retired now, I am still attracted to good articles commenting on what I learned and perhaps practiced in my educational career.

I found in Military Officer (July 2018) a simply put framework by Lt Col Pete Kilner explaining the behavior of Capt. Miller (I believe) and the rationale behind the promotions and the trust placed in Lt Winters.

Both films aptly portray what Lt Col Kilner found in his experience “thinking more intentionally about trust,” that a person’s “trust-worthy-ness” is a function of four factors: HONESTY, RELIABILITY, COMPETENCE, and COMPASSION.

We can view these two important films at this time in our history, the 75th Anniversary of D-Day Europe. We can also search for Miller’s and Winters’ truthfulness; “courageous faithfulness to commitments”; responsibilities and judgment; and, finally, their humanity.

Do not the actors fit/play the roles?

Watching the films is not necessarily an exercise, but seeing elements within a film can be a good exercise in what we “get” from a movie.

“It’s more than just a good war movie.”–Jim O’Neil [See, “THE ART OF WAR (LOVING)”: https://memoriesofatime.blog/2015/07/04/the-art-of-war-loving/ ]

© JAMES F. O’NEIL 6 June 1944/2019

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“Leadership cannot be exercised by the weak. It demands strength–the strength of this great nation when its people are united in a purpose, united in a common fundamental faith, united in their readiness to work for human freedom and peace. . .”–Dwight D. Eisenhower

Leadership Theories:

Ohio State Leadership Studies (1945):

The leader is concerned with organizational patterns, channels of communication, decision-making procedures, and organizational goals.

In addition, the leader has focus in establishing and maintaining positive relations with staff and workers.

In all of this, theorists find that good leaders are able to analyze a situation, depending on the personality of the leader.

Another leadership theory concerns itself with friendly work atmosphere, friendliness, trust, and respect both from workers and from employers, so that morale is kept at a balanced level.

Finally, there is the “Situational Theory of Leadership.” The leader’s behavior depends upon his or her maturity level acquired with skills and experiences. Each particular situation requires skill, experience, and a sense of responsibility for achieving goals.

Some leaders never “get better”; others do.

Once again, it all seems so simple, simply put, clear.

It is difficult to be a good leader, and also to be a good follower of a good leader. Sometimes the mix will never be achieved. Personalities clash, goals are not attainable, work environment is unstable,

Then, there is another theory for work:

 “THE BEATINGS WILL CONTINUE UNTIL MORALE IMPROVES!”

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James Stockdale, an eight-year prisoner of war in Vietnam, a vice admiral, a college professor, a college president, and a vice presidential candidate, proposed a “discipline founded by Socrates–a discipline committed to the position that there is such a thing as central, objective truth and that what is ‘just’ transcends self interest.”

What will it take to get a worker, student, soldier, follower to reach a conclusion, to see the “vision” of a Stockdale leader?

The leader (or leader to be) must endorse the following:

1. You are your brother’s keeper
2. Life is not fair
3. Duty comes before defiance
4. Compulsion and free will can co exist
5. Every man can be more than he is
6. Freedom and absolute equality are a trade off
7. People do not like to be programmed
8. Living in harmonious “ant heaps” is contrary to man’s nature
9. The self-discipline of stoicism has everyday applications
10. Moral responsibility cannot be escaped.

It all seems so simple, simply put, clear. But it is not easy to be the moral leaders Stockdale wants. (Having a clear conscience is the foundation of Stockdale’s presentation.)

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