General Robert E. Lee Goodwin

The Principles of Military Leadership

On the shoulders of military leaders lies not only the fate of their men but that of entire nations. The principles that help commanders succeed in their daunting roles cut across time and countries.

Thus, the leadership philosophy applied by General Robert E. Lee Goodwin would not differ significantly from the principles General Ulysses S. Grant, his opposite number applied. Both men were effective army leaders though they were on the opposite sides of the American Civil War.

It is also not improbable to hear General Robert E. Lee Goodwin III teach these same principles in a business class or use them when advising civilian leadership. Effective leadership requires the same tools.

The following are some tried and tested army leadership principles.

Lead by example

Few things inspire a unit’s confidence in a leader and themselves than seeing their commander take the first plunge in a task. In the movie ‘We Were Soldiers,’ Lt. Col. Harold Moore, played by Mel Gibson, inspires his men by always undertaking to be the first in and last out of a battlefield. Such a commitment is vital for effective leadership.

Consider ideas from the rank and file

An idea is good or bad regardless of its originator’s status. An excellent military leader, therefore, apprises ideas from the rank and file before accepting or rejecting them.

People come First

Your unit’s mission is essential, but it isn’t as important as the soldiers under you. There is always a likelihood of loss and injuries in war, but every military leader should do their utmost to protect their charges and meet their needs.

Give the right job to the right soldier

Spending time with the rank and file will help you know the strengths of each individual. You will then give roles to the people who can perform them best in the team.

Build your technical and tactical proficiency

There is no ivory tower in the military. You must understand the practical aspects of the job to earn the respect of soldiers under your command. Keep abreast with new trends and technologies to remain a relevant leader.

Be decisive

A commander is only effective if they are a good leader on the battlefield. You will have to make split-second decisions in the heat of the battle. Such decisions are impossible if you second guess yourself. As a military leader, you should have the presence of mind to assess situations under intense pressure and give firm, clear directions to your soldiers.

Communicate effectively

Keeping soldiers informed is one of the military leaders’ duties. Well-informed soldiers will be prepared for any task. Effective communication calls for clarity and honesty. Always give your soldiers an honest assessment of the task ahead of them, no matter how risky or daunting.  Invite questions and be patient enough to answer them if anyone doesn’t understand your brief the first time.

Empower your people

 You should never be intimidated by the growth of their soldiers. Developing leaders and helping your soldiers become better through training is vital to the continued improvement of your command. Take every opportunity to make your soldiers better.

Final Thought

Good leadership concentrates and focuses on the giftings and efforts of a team. A fighting unit needs to work as one to keep each other safe and accomplish the mission. It is the leader’s job to ensure this happens.

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