First and Second Platoon (pages 1-31)
Part One: Leadership Strategies, 1. Foundations, A. First Platoon: Detach, B. Second Platoon: Arrogance and Humility (pages 1-31)
First Platoon: Detach
The author describes the ability to step back from a situation in order to get a better perspective. He describes a training mission in which his platoon was put in a unique situation and no one was providing orders. All were “looking down the sights of their weapons” unable to see the complete picture of their situation. The author stepped back, shifted his focus from his weapon to the place they were in. This provided the necessary perspective in order to issue to make a good decision.
The ability to change perspectives in leadership is paramount. Being able to understand a situation from different positions allows decisions to be made that are more thoughtful and have a much higher probability of success. As the author states, “To be a good leader, you need to be a good follower”.
Second Platoon: Arrogance and Humility
In this second deployment, the author explains that he, and his platoon-mates, are no longer considered rookies but are referred to as one-cruise wonders. At this point, the second platoon consisted of a majority of the first platoon and had a good contingent of leaders. However, the platoon leader was not strong. He was a lateral transfer with minimal experience. To make matters worse, he did not want to listen to anyone’s advice. As the author states, “…what the officer lacked in experience, he made up for with a massive ego”. This lack of experience and arrogance caused the platoon to become severely dysfunctional to the point that they considered a mutiny. The platoon contacted the commanding officer and explained the situation. The commanding officer performed an independent evaluation of the platoon leader’s performance and promptly relieved him of his duties. His replacement was the “complete opposite”, experienced and well respected. The new platoon leader was humble, collaborative and insisted the all members contributed to mission planning and execution. It was this immense discrepancy between the two-platoon leaders that cauterized the author’s view on how devastating arrogance can be to leadership while providing him a someone to model his leadership skills on.
I worked for a leader who was unfortunately arrogant. It is a difficult situation to be in when you can see the poor decisions being made and not having the authority to intervene. When in this situation, I was given the advice to lead-up by a trusted colleague. That is, try to inspire the leader into understanding their poor decisions. It’s was a very difficult task and one that I was not successful in. I eventually moved on to another district.