Vol. 6, No. 8 www.stuffofheroes.com (626) 791-8973 © 2008
Leadership - Speeches - Workshops
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"Extraordinary achievements demand extraordinary leaders."
2008 William A. Cohen, PhD
Table of Contents for this Issue
News for Leaders: Immediately Following The Table of Contents
This Month's Topic: HOW TO DEVELOP YOUR SELF CONFIDENCE AS A LEADER
This Month's Thought for Leaders: Immediate Following Article HOW TO DEVELOP YOUR SELF CONFIDENCE AS A LEADER
Leadership Lessons from Last Month's Free Downloadable Book: My Life on the Plains by Major General George Armstrong Custer
This Month's Free Downloadable Book : Dollars and Sense by William C. Hunter
News for Leaders
Free Course on Chinese Culture for Business Travelers from the University of Michigan. The outline of this course is
|Session 5||Chinese Culture and Relations with Foreigners|
Click each session for a complete description.
Go to http://www.fathom.com/course/21701776/index.html to register.
You can now listen to A Class with Drucker at www. Audible.com and www.iTunes.com. A CD is scheduled for release March, 2009
Free Online courses and seminars from the University of Chicago. I received my MBA from the University of Chicago. Now I'm happy to say that the University is also offering courses online. Go to http://www.fathom.com/partners/uchic/courses.html .
Full Day Peter Drucker Seminars Now Available. The following new full-day seminars based on my being Peter Drucker's first executive PhD student, personal discussions with him, and my research of his writings are now available. These are The Lost Lessons of Peter F. Drucker, Drucker on Marketing, and Drucker on Leadership. For a complete description go to SPEECHES, SEMINARS, AND WORKSHOPS or contact me directly by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone (626) 794-5998. Yes we do give international seminars --- The U.S. country code is 01.
Seminar Discounts to U.S. Military, Police, Fire Fighters and other U.S. Government. We offer special discounts on seminars to all U.S. government organizations. In the past we have given these to the FBI, Police, Post Office Department, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Marines, U.S. Navy, the Reserves and others. For full information contact me directly by e-mail at email@example.com or telephone (626) 794-5998. Like Peter Drucker, I do not employ a secretary, so if I'm not in, leave a message.
Book Reviews of A Class with Drucker. As promised I am posting all book reviews available --- good, bad, and indifferent --- as received. If you see one not posted, please send it and I will include it. Just click Drucker Book Reviews.
HOW TO DEVELOP YOUR SELF CONFIDENCE AS A LEADER
by ã William A. Cohen, PhD 2008
There is an old story told about the Texas Rangers. I tell it a lot, but its point is important enough that its worth repeating. It happened around the turn of the century. One of the wild gangs that roamed the old West took over a small Texas town. They shot up the bar, threatened the citizens, and drove the sheriff out of town. In desperation the town's mayor telegraphed the governor, pleading that he send a detachment of Texas Rangers to right the situation. The Governor agreed that the problem called for the famous Rangers. The Governor promised that a detachment would be on the next day's train.
The mayor himself met the train on which the Rangers were to arrive. Unbelievably, only one Ranger got off the train.
"Where are the rest of the Rangers," asked the mayor.
"They aren't any," was the answer.
"How can one Ranger handle an entire gang?" asked the mayor indignantly.
"Well, there's only one gang ain't there?" replied the Ranger.
This story may not be 100% true, but it is based on fact. Less than 100 Rangers protected the entire State of Texas. And no Ranger felt himself outnumbered, though he might be working alone. The Ranger would look the situation over, and do what had to be done. He would lead posses, motivate and organize disheartened citizens, and guide lawmen. The situation was almost always dangerous. Yet the Ranger routinely led and directed others in life and death situations. From such facts came legends like the story I've told you, or the fictional hero that you may have hear of. His creator called him, "The Lone Ranger."
What is the Secret that Empowers Leaders?
How is it possible that leaders take charge and assume responsibilities for lives, jobs, and billion dollar companies? How is possible that leaders can take responsibility for the future of nations, if not mankind itself? How is it possible that leaders sometimes lead thousands or even millions of men and women in accomplishing something? Yet they may do all of these things seemingly without blinking an eye. Where do they get such tremendous self-confidence?
An old Air Force training manual on leadership says," No man can have self-confidence if not convinced in his own mind that he is qualified to perform the job he is assigned."1 It's a fact. If you know that you can succeed at something, than you will have self-confidence that you can do it. The truth is, it is impossible not to. So the problem is how can you know you will succeed before you actually try something?
General Curtis LeMay built the Strategic Air Command into the mightiest military force ever forged. Later he became Air Force Chief of Staff. Before World War II, he was a thirty year old Captain and a B-17 navigator. Officially he led only himself. Five years later, he was a Major General leading thousands. He was not only responsible for their lives and wellbeing, but for the success of missions crucial to the outcome of the war.
Early in the war LeMay was sent to Europe as a Colonel and Group commander. The bombing results before LeMay arrived were terrible. This was due to heavy concentrations of anti-aircraft artillery efforts by the Germans. "You can't fly straight and level for more than 15 seconds," the "old timers" told LeMay. "If you do, you'll get shot down." Now a bomber needed to be a stable platform to deliver its bombs accurately. The bombardier had to identify his aiming point and accurately determine the winds that would affect the bombs after release. So the plane had to avoid taking evasive action for a lot longer than 15 seconds. Otherwise, the bombardier had no real chance to hit his target.
LeMay looked at his losses and at the results. Because results were so poor, his planes had to return to the same targets again and again. The bottom line was that he had high losses due to the repeated missions as well as poor results. He soon gave new orders. "Every plane will fly straight and level for at least ten minutes prior to 'bombs away'." The experts gave him warning that his entire force could be destroyed. LeMay listened to the experts, but remained convinced that he was right. His crews bombed after a ten-minute straight and level run from an initial point. The bombs hit accurately on the target. Although losses per mission increased, losses for each target destroyed declined significantly. Eventually, LeMay was promoted to Brigadier General.
Two years later, LeMay was sent to the Pacific Theater as a Major General to head up B-29 operations against Japan. The B-29 was a remarkable airplane. It was designed as a "Superfortress" with guns bristling from all quadrants. Its four powerful engines were designed to take the plane at an altitude above the effective range of the anti-aircraft guns. The B-29 had a sophisticated pressurization and oxygen system, and in many other ways was optimized for use as a high altitude bomber. The B-29 was an expensive airplane for those days. So much so, that General Hap Arnold, Commanding General of the Army Air Forces told LeMay that the B-29 should be treated differently than ordinary combat aircraft. Arnold felt that the loss of a single B-29 in combat or by accident should require more than a routine investigation. He told LeMay that he should consider treating the loss of each B-29 in the same way that the Navy treated the loss of a capital ship like an aircraft carrier or a battleship.
LeMay began B-29 operations. Once again, bombing results were poor. The culprit now wasn't anti-aircraft artillery. The B-29 flew well above that. The problem was wind shear. The winds at the altitudes that the B-29 flew were vastly different from the winds at the lower altitudes above the target. Also, the winds acted on the bombs for a much longer time than bombs dropped at lower release altitudes. So the bombardiers lost control of where their bombs hit. They might hit anywhere, and they definitely weren't hitting their targets. LeMay looked at the situation and listened to the recommendations of the aircrews and his staff. Than he made his decision. He ordered all oxygen and pressurization equipment removed. He ordered the guns removed. Since there were no guns, the gunners wouldn't need to go either. Removing all of this weight allowed more bombs to be carried. Than he proposed that his B-29s, designed and optimized for bombing at high altitudes to bomb, not at 29,000 feet, but at 7,000 feet. Again, experts told him he was wrong. They told him he would lose his entire fleet of aircraft. They told LeMay that General Arnold would relieve him of command for wasting the lives of his crews and not using the expensive high altitude and defensive capabilities built into the airplane. Nevertheles LeMay ordered his crews to bomb at 7,000 feet. The results were devastating . . . to the enemy. LeMay got far greater results for lower losses than any air campaign in the war.
How did General LeMay summon up the courage and self-confidence to make these decisions and take these great risks? Where did such self-confidence come from in an individual who only a few years earlier commanded a single Group, and only a few years before that commanded only himself? Without a doubt, LeMay believed he would succeed before he gave the orders to carry out his instructions in both instances. What gave him the idea he would succeed?
There is an old saying that nothing succeeds like success. This means that success breeds success, or that successful people tend to become more successful. Another words, if you have been successful in the past, you have a better chance of being successful in the future. But how can you become successful until you are successful? It’s like the chicken and the egg. You can't have a chicken until you have an egg, but you can't have an egg until you have a chicken. Fortunately there is a way of overcoming this problem. It is easy to achieve a modest success. And a little success counts just as much as a big success as far as our belief system goes. That means if you can win little victories in being successful at something, your psyches will believe that you can accomplish even greater things in the same area. Moreover, you will project this inward feeling outward and others will begin treating you differently. Famed body builder, movie star, and now Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger describes how his confidence began to develop while still in high school: ”Before long people ban looking at me as a special person. Partly this was the result of my own changing attitude about myself. I was growing, getting bigger, gaining confidence. I was given consideration I had never received before . . . "2 Many leaders are trained this way. They acquire their self-confidence by leading successively larger organizations with greater responsibilities. At every step their belief systems grow that they will be successful. As we have seen, belief that you will be successful leads to the self-confidence needed to do the job.
It used to be thought that leaders grow into their jobs because of the technical experience and product knowledge that they acquire at each step. However, in this age of technical specialization, it is virtually impossible to be an expert in everything that those you lead do in most leadership jobs. This means that the technical knowledge is of far less importance than how you train your belief system. I once worked for a very successful female executive who led important research and development organizations. Yet her background was not in engineering, but in personnel. John Sculley. He left a very successful career as a senior executive with Pepsi-Cola to become the President of Apple Computer. Other than the fact that they are both products, the differences between computers and soft drinks are far greater than their similarities. Yet Sculley was also successful for many years as the leader (CEO) of Apple. Similarly, Carleton Florina, who became the first woman to lead a blue-chip firm when she left Lucent Technologies (communications) to become CEO of Hewlett Packard (computers), was no computer expert when she arrived at Hewlett Packard.3
Unfortunately many individuals may not have the opportunity to be trained by leading successfully larger organizations. Some individuals are so valuable to their bosses that they can't be spared for jobs where they would lead organizations. Others are overlooked until later in their careers. Than they had better be ready, whether they have led smaller organizations or not. By the time he was elected President, Dwight Eisenhower already had a lot of experience in leading men and women in very large organizations. However, as we will see, he lacked some experience that many would consider important. In 1940, General Eisenhower was a Lieutenant Colonel. Despite many requests to be sent overseas during World War I, he spent the entire war training troops in the United States. He never saw combat. Between wars he did valuable work in a variety of staff jobs. He was so valuable in fact, that he despaired of ever being assigned again to command troops. With the buildup just prior to the war, he was assigned to senior staff duties. He was promoted to brigadier general, but still had not led major organizations. General George C. Marshall promoted him to Brigadier General and he skipped the rank of full colonel completely. His first job leading troops was as a major general Commanding General, European Theater of Operations in 1942. The year after that he commanded the allied invasion of North Africa, and eventually became the Supreme Commander for the allied invasion of Europe, the largest invasion in the history of the world, before or since. Finally, he wore five stars as General of the Army. That's a rank that is so high it doesn't even exist in peacetime. Please note that after years of staff positions, and never having been in combat, Eisenhower eventually commanded and led more than 3 million fighting troops of many different nations. Then later, as President, he went on to lead the most powerful country on earth.
This Man's First Line Responsibility Was For An Entire Company
Peter Drucker, the famed author, professor, and management consultant once used a similar case study from his personal experience in a graduate course that I was privileged to attend in the mid-1970s. Like Eisenhower, a company executive with legal training had spent his entire career on staff. Than one day, as a senior staff vice-president, the Board of Directors elected him President of the corporation. This was his first real line job of leading an organization, and like Eisenhower, he was successful. How did he do it?
Four Ways To Build Your Self-Confidence and Your Leadership Skills
How do leaders get the self-confidence they need to lead? How do leaders like this new company president, General Eisenhower and hundreds of others acquire the belief in success necessary for the self-confidence to do the job? I'm going to give you four ways to build your self-confidence and develop your leadership skills. President Eisenhower and thousands of others have used these methods. If you adopt them, you will develop your self-confidence as a leader by numerous smaller successes. Every time you practice them, your belief system in your own success will be strengthened. You will become a powerful leader. Like General Eisenhower you will be ready to assume major leadership responsibilities because you will have the self-confidence to do it. After returning to troop duty after more than 18 years on various staff assignments, General Eisenhower wrote: "...I have in the few short months I have been allowed to serve with troops, completely reassured myself that I am capable of handling command jobs."4 Eisenhower already had the self-confidence in his own leadership for higher level responsibilities, and so can you.
The four ways are:
· Become an uncrowned leader
· Be an unselfish teacher and helper of others
· Develop expertise
· Use positive mental imagery
Take Advantage Of The Fact That You Don't Need To Be A Manager To Be A Leader
The first way to develop self-confidence while you develop your leadership skills is to become an uncrowned leader. There are hundreds of opportunities for you to become a leader if you want to. I promise you that if you stop to look you will find at least one opportunity, and probably even more, every day. The truth is, people around you are positively crying for you to help them by seizing the opportunity to lead.
Remember, you don't have to be a manager to be a leader, and as I pointed out in an earlier chapter, the two are not even the same. Being a manager has to do with doing things right. Being a leader has to do with doing the right things. You absolutely do not need to have an official position as a paid manager to be a leader.
What is an uncrowned leader? An uncrowned leader just means that you will seek out and accept leadership jobs outside of your normal responsibilities. You may or may not get paid in dollars for your accomplishments as an uncrowned leader. But the self-confidence you will get from doing uncrowned leadership jobs and the skills you will acquire will more than make up for it.
The first rule for becoming a successful uncrowned leader is to accept responsibility cheerfully on the job. Even more than accepting leadership responsibility, you must seek leadership responsibility every chance that you get. Maybe there is a special report that needs to be done. Perhaps the boss is looking for someone to organize or coach your company's sports program. Does your office want to buy a new computer? Who's going to handle the job of selecting and buying it? Do you have office parties or weekend get-togethers? Entertainment committee chairmen are leadership positions also. Every organizing opportunity is another chance to be an uncrowned leader. And the more you do this, the easier it gets. The more others will look to you as their leader, and the more self-confident you will become in your ability to lead.
Your uncrowned leadership jobs don't need to be just at work. There are cases every day where there are immediate problems that need to be solved and need for a leader to help others to solve them. Look around and you will see that everyone is looking at everyone else to lead. No one seems to know what to do. Do you know what to do? Are you at least willing to try? If so, you will be instantly and automatically promoted to uncrowned leader. The strange thing is that in most cases you will discover that it is not that no one knows what to do. It is that no one wants to do the work or to take the responsibility for doing whatever needs to be done. Under these circumstances, you will be amazed at just how ready others are to follow your lead.
Now please don't misunderstand me here. There are also situations that you find yourself in where it seems that everyone wants to lead. In some of these cases, people want to lead so badly that they will actually fight each other to do so. You may or not be able to help out here as the group's leader. Whether you can or not, you are unlikely to be asked. When you find yourself in this kind of situation, my advice to you is to sit back and stay out of the fight. If the situation is so critical that some act needs to be done, do it yourself. Help the group as best you can, but don't compete for leadership. No matter how terrific a leader you are, you can't and won't lead in every situation you find yourself in. But that's not important. There are plenty of uncrowned leadership opportunities around. As Marine Corps Colonel Al Garsys, my good friend and Industrial College of the Armed Forces classmate says, "I can lead, and I can follow. An important aspect of leadership is knowing when to do which."
Since there are far more uncrowned leadership opportunities than there are leaders, you will find opportunities to lead everywhere. You will find many opportunities where you live. There are neighborhood committees such as the "neighborhood watch" to help your local police guard against crime, there are neighborhood committees to beautify the neighborhood, get out the vote and many others. There are numerous committees that require leadership positions if you live in a department or condominium. You will find other opportunities to lead in your church or synagogue, professional organizations, trade associations, political organizations, boy and girl scouts, and many others. Believe me when I tell you that there are many more uncrowned leadership jobs than there are leaders to fill them. Look for unpopular jobs that no one wants to do. Volunteer to do them and have fun doing them. Your self-confidence will soar as you become more and more successful as a leader.
We succeed in life only to the extent that we help others succeed in their lives. That's true whether you are a leader of men or women in combat, in the office or boardroom, or even an author of a book or article on leadership. If I am successful in helping you to reach your goals in life as a leader, you will make me successful in my goals as an author as well. That's how life works. So to become a successful leader there is something you must do. You must give up some of your time, some of your resources, and some of your self so that others can succeed. In doing so, you will develop the self-confidence and success in uncrowned leader jobs without which you cannot move on to bigger leadership jobs in the future.
Did you see the movie "An Officer and a Gentleman?" In it, the hero, played by Richard Gere, does very poorly in naval officer training. He fights and is disrespectful to his superiors. Contrary to regulations, he shines the shoes of his classmates for money. The only thing he does right is the obstacle course. On the obstacle course, he is really good. He is so good, that it appears that he will set a training record when the class is required to run it officially. Than he gets in serious trouble when his best friend commits suicide and he challenges the non-commissioned officer in charge of his training to a karate fight. He is certain to be eliminated from officer training. However, while his dismissal is pending, his class runs the obstacle course for the record. One of his classmates is a woman that always has trouble climbing over one of the obstacles. As the hero runs on to set his record, she becomes stuck on this obstacle. It's the hero's moment of decision. What will he do? The only thing he had done well in the entire training program was the obstacle course. Perhaps if he sets a record, he will not be dismissed. The hero stops and goes back to help his classmate though he knows this will cost him the record he hoped to set. It is this one act of helping someone else that causes those that have authority over him to let him graduate and become "an officer and a gentleman." This is the exact thing that I am talking about. If you want to build your self-confidence so that you will be a great leader, teach and help others, even at cost to yourself.
Back in 1932, an article on the U.S. Army appeared in the German journal Militar Wochen Blatt. The article was written by Captain Adolf Von Schell of the German Army. He had attended and lectured at the U.S. Army's Infantry School at Ft. Benning, Georgia. Captain Von Schell stated that the chief role of the American regular officer was, "teacher and counselor." He went on to raise an important question. "But if the American officer is primarily a teacher with his principle training in schools, does sufficient time and opportunity remain to develop him as a leader?" Von Schell concluded that while everything was done to train American officers as both teachers and leaders, that the training of both at the same time was not possible. Less than ten years later, men like Marshall, MacArthur, Eisenhower, Patton, and Arnold and numerous others proved Von Schell wrong during World War II.
Perhaps it is no accident that many teachers in civilian life have made good military leaders. "Stonewall" Jackson, the hero of the Confederacy was a professor at Virginia Military Institute before the Civil War. In the same war, Colonel Joshua Chamberlain commander of the 20th Maine saved the Union line on Little Round Top on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg. Chamberlain had been a professor of rhetoric at Bowdoin College. He finished the war as a Major General. Robert E. Lee had been Superintendent at West Point before the Civil War. That's the same as a college president. Lee turned down offers of considerable sums of money to become the president of a small college after the war.
Of our World War II leaders, almost every single one had taught somewhere, whether it was at West Point or Annapolis, a civilian institution, the Infantry School, or one of the many military colleges teaching staff or command. Please don't think my words are too much self serving when I remind you that your author was also a university professor . . . and was a navigational and combat flight instructor as well.
Why is experience as teacher of such importance? Because teaching is a more structured way of giving of yourself to help others. In teaching or helping others, you will gain additional success and confidence that will help you as a "paid" or official leader.
Research has demonstrated conclusively that there is an important source of power that will automatically attract others to you and make you their uncrowned leader. That source of power is expertise. What is expertise? Expertise is in depth knowledge or skill about some subject. Expertise can be on any subject. It can be about marketing, flying, warfare, management, stock management, record keeping, investments, buying a car, getting a loan, bowling, or baseball. Expertise can also be on what to eat, how to jog, or even the best way to mow your lawn. Expertise can be about anything human beings do.
Now you must understand one important fact about expertise and its ability to make you a leader. Any expertise will cause people to seek you out as a leader. However, the frequency that people make you a leader because of expertise depends on one factor. That factor is how relevant your expertise is to the people around you. Let's say you have expertise as bowler. Many people will seek you out and make you a leader...if you are in the company of other bowlers. If you want to be an uncrowned leader in a group that has few bowlers, don't depend on bowling expertise. Few will be interested. To maximize your leadership opportunities through expertise, just be sure that your expertise is relevant to the group. Another words, your expertise matches the needs of the people around you. If you have expert knowledge how to do something important to the group, there just isn't any question but that you'll be sought out as a leader. You will have increased opportunities to lead, and you will gain self-confidence as you do this.
How A Young Lieutenant Became A Major In Three Years . . . In Peacetime!
During my first flying tour of duty in the Air Force, I saw a young lieutenant join our wing. He became an expert navigator. Three years later this young lieutenant was a major . . . all through his special expertise in navigation which everyone was interested in. During World War II, young men barely out of high school became colonels through their expertise at various tasks. Many in their early twenties advanced rapidly through their ability to fly fighter aircraft and shoot down enemy planes. Robert S. McNamara became President John F. Kennedy's Secretary of Defense. During World War II, he advanced from the rank of captain to lieutenant colonel in four months due to his expertise in mathematical techniques of analysis.
Certainly one factor that led to Patton's promotion to General just before World War II was his expertise with tanks. During World War I, George Patton had been a full colonel at the age of only 29. He had led America's first tank unit in combat. However, due to budgetary cutbacks, the Army had to cut back on tanks. Patton went back to the horse cavalry and returned to the rank of 1st Lieutenant. By 1940 he had worked his way back up to Colonel. Than the army needed someone with tank expertise. Patton was one of the few senior officers that had the expertise that was needed. The Army quickly made him a general.
Many "fast burners" in industry got to the top rapidly for the same reason. These include Steven Spielberg, CEO of DreamWorks, Bill Gates, CEO and founder of Microsoft, Steven Jobs who founded Apple, Mary Kay ash, founder and CEO of Mary Kay Cosmetics, Lee Iacocca, the man who saved Chrysler, Frederick Smith, founder and Chairman of Federal Express and many others. They all shared a common attribute. They had expertise in a topic that was of some importance to others.
Did you think that Ray Kroc, who founded McDonalds, became a millionaire many times over simply because he went into the hamburger business? Not on your life! Many companies made hamburgers before McDonalds. And before Ray Kroc came along, while McDonalds was growing every year, they were losing money. No, Ray Kroc didn't invent the hamburger. But Ray brought a new dimension to the hamburger business because he had developed a special expertise. He not only knew how to make good hamburgers. Kroc knew how to have others make identical high quality hamburgers at low cost. He used a combination of unique instruction, quality control of methods and franchisees, and techniques such as special measuring cups. Through his methods even a high school student could make quality hamburgers. It made no difference whether the McDonalds was located in the north, south, east or west. The hamburgers were always the same, and they were always good. In fact today the results of Kroc's expertise can be seen in many countries all over the world, wherever the Golden Arches signifying McDonald's are found.
If you want people to acknowledge you, even seek you out, as their unofficial leader all you need to do is develop a needed expertise and you can do it too, just like Ray Kroc!
Now listen. Here's what I find interesting about acquiring expertise. Not only is it interesting, it seems to be a big secret because not too many people seem to know it. You can become an expert in just about anything in only five years or less. There is only one requirement. You must put forth the effort.
Proof That You Can Become An Expert In Anything In Five Years
Want proof? Jobs and Wozniack were college drop-outs when they founded Apple Computers and became multimillionaires. But they had been working on building computers even in high school. The time it took them to become computer experts? - about five years.
Dr. Kenneth Cooper has probably made more contributions to health by preventing heart attacks than any man alive. It was Ken Cooper who conducted the research and developed the concept of aerobic training when he was a flight surgeon in the Air Force. His numerous books, lectures, and aerobic center in Dallas, Texas have helped millions on the way to good health and prevented millions more from unnecessary, premature, death. His efforts got the whole country jogging, walking, cycling, swimming, and doing other healthy activities. When Dr. Cooper first presented his research and proposed that his aerobic training be adopted throughout the country it did not gain immediate acceptance. Some older, far more experienced doctors didn't believe it would work. They couldn't believe that anyone could acquire so much expertise in such a short period of time. You guessed it. When Ken Cooper first developed his theories, he had been working on aerobics for heart exercise for only five years!
If you further doubt what I say about how long it takes to become an expert, I challenge you to do a little research. I want you to go to newspapers, magazines, and books, and look up the careers of young men and women who are super-successful. I recommend that you look for young people because otherwise you may be tempted to fool yourself and count the total years of experience, rather than only the years spent acquiring a particular expertise. For example, Colonel Harland Sanders was past sixty when he began to market his secret family recipe that eventually led to the multibillion dollar Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise. You could say that he spent his entire life acquiring expertise in the fried chicken business. You would be wrong. He didn't begin to learn anything about fried chicken until he was 62. I suggest that you look at the careers super-successful people who are young not because older people can't become super-successful. They can. Harland Sanders and Ray Kroc are just two examples from thousands. But if you look at younger successes, there will be no doubt regarding how long it took to acquire the needed expertise.
Now I'm not saying that you will always find success in five years. Sometimes success takes much longer. But we're not talking about success here. We're talking about expertise. If you want to be an expert at flying, karate, dancing, marketing, or business you can do it. You can acquire the expertise you want and it will only take you five years or less. But don't forget. Acquiring the expertise is not automatic. You must put forth the effort required to do it. If you do, like Jobs, Wozniak, Kenneth Cooper, and so many of hundreds of others, you will have the expertise, and people will seek you out as their leader.
One of the most important exercises you can do to develop your self-confidence as a leader is practice positive mental imagery. The effects of positive (and negative) imagery can best be illustrated if I give you an example you can try for yourself.
Imagine a two by four plank constructed of hard wood, twenty feet long placed on the ground. If I put a fifty-dollar bill at one end and told you all you had to do was to walk across the plank to keep it, you would have no trouble. You would stride confidently across and pick up the $50. What if I raised the height of the plank to fifteen feet off the ground? You would probably still get to the fifty dollars, but it would be a lot more difficult. You would be much more careful where and how you stepped. Your stride would be much slower and more deliberate. What is the difference? The distance hasn't changed. The width and construction of the board hasn't changed in any way. Nor has the location of the fifty dollars relative to your starting position. Only the height has changed. And that shouldn't really make any difference. Or should it?
Now let's raise the height of that plank to three hundred feet between two skyscrapers. Are you still ready to go for the $50? Or would you insist on at least a thousand dollars or more to walk across the twenty-foot plank? Even than you might decide not to try it. If you did, I bet you would be mighty careful. Yet nothing has changed except the height. The plank, distance, width, and location of the money haven't changed a whit. The real difference, of course, is the difference in mental image that the difference in height creates. When the plank is on the floor, our mental images focuses on the $50. However, as the height increases, we focus not on the $50, but on falling and the consequences of the fall.
Karl Wallenda was probably the greatest tightrope walker that ever lived. He walked across great distances, high in the air, and he did so without a net. Further, Karl Wallenda didn't stop his breathtaking walks as he grew older. He did the same fabulous stunts in his seventies that he did as a young man in his twenties.Than, in 1978 while performing a tightrope walk between two buildings in San Juan, Puerto Rico, he fell to his death. Several weeks later, his wife was interviewed on television regarding Wallenda's last walk. "It was very strange," she said. "For months prior to his performance, he thought about nothing else. But for the first time, he didn't see himself succeeding. He saw himself falling." Wallenda's wife went on to say that he even checked the installation and construction of the wire himself. "This," she said, "was something Karl had never done previously." There seems little doubt that Karl Wallenda's negative mental imagery contributed to his falling.
Just as negative images can hurt your self-confidence as a leader, positive images can help your self-confidence considerably. One of the leading researchers in the area of imagery is Dr. Charles Garfield. Dr. Garfield is a unique individual. He has not one, but two doctorates: in mathematics and psychology. I first read of Dr. Garfield's work in the pages of the Wall Street Journal . The article spoke about Dr. Garfield's research regarding what he called a kind of "mental rehearsal." Garfield found that more effective executives practiced frequently practiced mental rehearsal. Less effective executives did not. In his book, Peak Performers, Garfield describes how Soviet bloc performance experts in Milan, Italy confirmed his theories.
Garfield is an amateur weightlifter. However, hadn't worked out in several months. When he had, his best lift had been 280 pounds, although previously when he had worked out regularly, he had done more. The Soviets asked him what was the absolute maximum he thought he could lift right at that moment. He responded that he might be able to make 300 pounds in an exercise known as the bench press. In this exercise, you are flat on your back. You take a barbell off of two uprights. Next you lower the weight to your chest. Than you return the weight to the starting position. With extreme effort, he just managed to make that amount. As Garfield himself said, "It was difficult - so difficult that I doubt I could have done it without the mounting excitement in the room." The Soviets than had Garfield lay back and relax. They put him through a series of mental relaxation exercises. Than they asked him to get up slowly and gently. When he did, they added 65 pounds to the 300 pound weight. Under normal circumstances, it would have been impossible for him to lift this weight. He began to have negative images. Before they established themselves in his mind, the Soviets began a new mental exercise.
"Firmly, thoroughly, they talked me through a series of mental preparations. In my mind's eye I saw myself approaching the bench. I visualized myself lying down. I visualized myself, with total confidence, lifting the 365 pounds." Much to Garfield's surprise, he not lifted the 365-pound weight. He was also astounded to discover it easier to lift than the lighter weight had been earlier.6
I have used mental rehearsal techniques for many years. I can guarantee that not only will you find them effective, but that they are easy and painless with no after effects. The secret is to first relax as much as you can, than to give yourself positive images. What I do is this. I lay back and get as relaxed as I can. Than I start with my toes and tell myself that my toes are becoming numb. I repeat this suggestion to myself several times. From my toes, I go to my feet, legs, torso, etc. In every case I repeat the suggestion that the particular part of the body I am focusing on is becoming completely relaxed and numb. When I am totally relaxed, I go to work on my positive imagery.
Let's say that the leadership situation that I want to build self-confidence in has to do with a meeting I am going to run. In my mind I will picture everything about that meeting in detail. I will see the table, the lighting and the decorations. I will see the sights, hear the sounds, smell the smells and feel every sensation. I will see every individual who is participating in that meeting. I will rehearse every item on the agenda. In my mental imagery I will rehearse not only what I will say, but the responses from those I will lead as well. Naturally, in my mental rehearsal, everything will go the way I want it to go. In fact, I will make sure that all of my mental image rehearsals go perfectly. After I complete the rehearsal once, I repeat the entire rehearsal again. I do it several times at a sitting. If the situation is particularly important, I may repeat the entire mental imagery process a couple times a day for several days.
Does it work? Amazingly, I have rarely failed when I used this imagery technique. It is true that reality does not always follow my preplanned script. Sometimes the changes are significant. But the results gained by seeing a favorable outcome over and over again has a dramatic effect. I never lack self-confidence in any leadership situation that I have mentally rehearsed. Walter Anderson, who wrote the book, The Confidence Course says: “If you act as if you’re confident, even though you may not feel sure of yourself, your confidence will grow. If you firmly fix the image in your mind of the person you’d like to be, you will begin to become that person.”7
You can develop your leadership self-confidence by taking these four action steps. All have to do with one basic fact. Your self-confidence will increase as you accomplish leadership tasks successfully. So do smaller and easier tasks first. Take on all that you can. Then, progress to more difficult tasks. You will find them to be much easier than you thought. Here are your four action steps to build leadership self-confidence:
1. Become an uncrowned leader by seeking out and volunteer to be a leader whenever you can.
2. Be an unselfish teacher and helper of others. Others will come to you for leadership.
3. Develop your expertise. Expertise is a source of leadership power.
4. Use positive mental imagery. Simulations in the mind are rehearsals for success. They are interpreted by the mind as real experiences. So they will boost your leadership self-confidence just like the actual experience.
1 AFM 35-15 Air Force Leadership (Department of the Air Force: Washington, D.C., 1948) p.30
2 Arnold Scwarzeneger with Douglas Kent Hall, Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder (New York: Fireside, 1997) p.24.
3 Joseph Menn, “First Woman to Lead Blue-Chip Firm, Los Angeles Times (July 20, 1999) pp. A-1, A-17.
4 Edgar F. Puryear,Jr., Nineteen Stars: A Study in Military Character and Leadership, 2nd ed. (Presidio Press: Novato, California, 1981) p.155
5 Adolf Von Schell, Battle Leadership, (The Benning Herald: Columbus, Georgia,1933) pp. 92-94
6 Charles Garfield, Peak Performers (Avon Books: New York, 1986) pp.72-73.
7 Walter Anderson, The Confidence Course (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997) p. 166.
by Major General George Armstrong Custer
Major General George Armstrong Custer has been one of the most controversial figures in American history. During his lifetime he was considered one of the greatest of American heroes and commanders. While still a lieutenant he became one of America's first balloon observers in fighting near Yorktown, Virginia. He was so effective as a cavalry commander that he was promoted over thousands of other officers from the rank captain to brigadier general skipping the other ranks in between. His men worshipped him and wrote glowing stories about his bravery and leadership. He was the youngest major general in the Union Army during the Civil War, reaching this senior rank when still in his twenties. He was so highly thought of by senior Army officers and by President Abraham Lincoln, that after General Robert E. Lee signed the surrender documents which ended the war at Appomattox, Custer, who witnessed the signing, was presented the desk on which Lee signed as having contributed so much to the union victory .
After the war, Custer put down a major Ku Klux Klan uprising in the south and was sent west to fight Indians. Here, though he won victories, he was criticized by many. His subordinates were said to either love him or hate him. He never lost a single battle or scrimmage and was considered a prudent strategist who didn't waste his men. That is, until his last battle for which he is known best, The Battle of the Little Big Horn. In this battle he led his regiment the 7th Cavalry of a little over 600 against several thousand Sioux and Cheyenne warriors. The entire battalion of 240 which he led personally, including Custer, was annihilated. This actually started the controversy about him, some saying he knew the odds he faced, but had no choice; others claiming, he was just plain foolish and seeking personal glory. Most, considering his past record, gave Custer the benefit of the doubt until modern times when beginning with the 1960's he came a symbol of the American government's treatment of Native Americans during the 19th century. This was strange in that he had made no secret of the fact that he held the opinion that had he been an Indian he would have fought against the United States!
Then in 1996, two works of fiction occurred which turned everything on its head. The first was written by Frederick J. Chiventone, a retired Army officer who had been an instructor at the U.S. Army's Command and Staff College. He said the since the Indian Wars had been little studied, a class of officers, all combat veterans were led on a battlefield walk on the battleground of the Little Big Horn battle. At each critical point this group of officers was given the same information that Custer had at that point in the battle and asked to make a consensus decision as to what Custer should have done. He said that much to their surprise, in every instance they made exactly the same decisions as Custer had taken. His book was called A Road We Do Not Know. The other book, Marching to Valla was written by Michael Blake, the well-known author of Dances with Wolves, which was later made into a movie. Dances with Wolves showed the anti-Indian policy in the government at its worst and in a very dramatic fashion. It was expected that Blake's Custer book would be even stronger in its commendation against Custer, the very symbol of wrong doing against against Native Americans. Much to everyone's shock, the book showed Custer in a very favorable light. Aggressively questioned on the Today Show on TV by Katie Couric about what he had written, Blake responded: "Before I started my research I thought that the book would be very unfavorable to Custer, too. However, I found out I was wrong. My historical research showed that Custer was actually a great American hero."
Custer's book, My Life on the Plains, won't settle the controversy since obviously it was written before The Battle of Little Big Horn. However, the book is well worth reading as an insight into Custer's thinking and character and there are plenty of leadership lessons. You'll find the book at: http://www.kancoll.org/books/custerg/ . Originally it appeared serialized in Galaxy Magazine.
THE LEADERSHIP LESSONS
1. Custer described how General George "Sandy" Forsyth, wounded, cut off with his command 110 miles from friendly forces, supplies exhausted. surrounded by the enemy with half of his command killed or wounded, called the survivors together. Instead of dwelling on these negatives he spoke about the positives. They had survived and beaten back a surprise attack by superior numbers outnumbering them 17-1, they had an unlimited supply of water by simply digging a few feet, and unlimited food due to the large number of dead horses and mules. Most importantly, they had plenty of ammunition. Forsyth was able to get someone through and a relief force eventually arrived. Were it not for Forsyth, the entire command would have been annihilated. No matter how desperate, it is the leader's responsibility to be positive. and to act in a positive fashion.
2. Custer's most constant enemy from the time they met in 1866 was Major Frederick Benteen. Benteen did everything he could to hurt Custer, even writing unsigned letters to the newspapers, attacking Custer, his commander in the 7th Cavalry. These did not stop after Custer was killed. Benteen criticized Custer's tactics and his own assignment on the battlefield. Writers over the years have speculated this was due o jealousy, since Custer, though superior in rank, was much younger and also to personality differences between the two men. Custer was always upbeat and positive. Benteen was the opposite, and he bristled at Custer's exuberance. Yet Custer did not respond in kind to Benteen's ill-will. During the Battle of Washita in 1868 Benteen shot and killed a 14-year old boy who was shooting at him. Custer wrote that Benteen had had no choice as the boy had already wounded Benteen's horse and would have killed him had not Benteen returned fire. Custer even defended his personal enemy in this book although Benteen had challenged him, even publically on several occasions. In this, Custer was like General Robert E. Lee. Lee was summoned to see Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy during the Civil War. Davis wanted to know Lee's opinion about another officer who was being considered for promotion. Lee told Davis that the officer had good qualities and recommended him for promotion. After the meeting and out of the hearing of Davis, Lee's aide said, "General Lee, how could you give such a glowing recommendation of this officer to President Davis? This officer publically criticizes you constantly." Lee responded, "President Davis did not ask this officer's opinion of me, he asked my opinion of this officer." A leader is a professional and criticizes professionally, not based on retaliation for personal attacks.
3. When the 7th Calvary was formed, marksman were in demand, and the numbers were very limited. So, Custer initiated a competition for a corps of 40 sharpshooters out of the 800 men in the command. This was a good idea as competition can frequently be used to inspire or develop desirable traits in an organization. However, Custer had a problem. What could he offer as an inducement to prepare and compete to become a sharpshooter? He could not offer more money. Moreover, in those days there were no medals or awards which could be worn on the uniform to denote expert riflemen. Finally, he didn't want to offer something which would cause hard feelings between members of the organization, the 7th Cavalry, which he was creating. So he offered status. The 40 marksmen who had the highest scores in the competition would be considered an elite group within the already elite 7th Cavalry. This idea worked. So often we think only material rewards such as more compensation, vacation, or security are necessary to promote outstanding performance in a needed skill. The truth is other things, such as recognition, interesting work, and treating others with respect work even better - and they cost nothing.
4. Peter Drucker, "The Father of Modern Management" said that the basis of any business in marketing and innovation. Custer did both. He promoted the 7th Calvary at every opportunity. Critics wrote that he was thereby promoting himself. Maybe this is true, but every good leader promotes his organization, and if the organization isn't up to snuff so he can promote it, he develops it so that there is something to promote, and then promotes it. This is important. Every worker wants to be in a top ranked organization. If the organization is not known to be a good one, members will begin to look primarily to their own personal interests for recognition from the outside, and these can lead to actions at odds with what the organization is trying to accomplish. Custer sought a unit battle song. Eventually he adopted an old Irish drinking song, "The Garryowen." Even today, that song is played whenever there is a movie about Custer. You can hear the tune at http://www.contemplator.com/ireland/gowen.html . Custer was a great innovator too. One of the problem on the battlefield was recognizing individual units in action. The small flags carried into battle could barely be identified at a distance even when the organization was not in combat. Custer came up with the idea of dividing his horses and assigning them by color. The grays, bays, blacks, etc. were are assigned by color to different subordinate organizations
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