Small Wars Journal


Reverse Leadership? Another Buzz Word for Disruptive Thinkers?

Wed, 05/16/2012 - 9:04am

This will be no news to most military leaders, but is still worth pointing out the source and a different perspective on leadership.  A Harvard Business Review blog post discusses the concept of "reverse leadership."  This is a buzz phrase for what some call functional leadership and what could be simply stated as "letting experts or other people with good ideas in your organization take the lead on creating a solution even if they don't hold a formal leadership billet."  Yes, yes, another buzz phrase, grumble, snipe, snark, but it is worth considering concepts and we don't have to carry the buzz phrase branding with them.  The author, Scott Edinger offers a list of suggestions.

  1. They're the ones with strong interpersonal skills born of self-awareness. [To lead through influence and not authority] they must be self-aware enough to understand the effect their words and actions have on other people. ...
  2. They focus more on results than on process. Anyone can follow the process, as the old saying goes, but it takes leadership to know when to break from it. Reverse leaders don't break rules simply to be rebellious. They break them because they're focused on the outcomes rather than the process for producing outcomes. ...
  3. They exhibit particularly high degrees of integrity. ...
  4. They have deep professional expertise in at least one discipline vital to the organization. ...
  5. They maintain an unswerving customer focus. [R]everse leaders ...tend to be found further down the organization and by extension closer to the customer. ... And such focus can have tremendous value to any organization, if properly recognized and encouraged.

Read it all here.

Marine Corps Gazette Blog Post: The SS, Special Snowflakes, and Supervision

Sun, 02/12/2012 - 7:35pm

At the Marine Corps Gazette blog, Brett Friedman draws attention to the deeper malaise behind the recent string of black-eyes for the Marine Corps:

[Recent articles] and these tragic events that have come to light lately prove that we no longer know how to supervise, lead, and maintain discipline. We’re supervising the wrong things. Unfortunately, there’s no real way to retrain the Marine Corps to fix our supervision problem. It’s a direct result of our culture. Our culture has brought us to the point where we all bear responsibility for these events. Every one of us. Every NCO who is more concerned with knocking out a checklist than mentoring his young Marines. Every SNCO who spends time searching out uniform regulation infractions. Every officer more concerned with paperwork and formats than setting an example. Every Marine, of any rank, who has told a subordinate to “shut up and color” when he or she pointed out that something was wrong. Our acquiescence to a culture of corrosive leadership has created this problem. We allowed leadership to be conflated with the creation and rote memorization of irrelevant regulations. We stopped mentoring and started poor parenting. We allowed bureaucratization to drown professionalism. We fostered a belief that we are special snowflakes who need rules, but not morality. We hazed Lance Corporal Lew. We desecrated human bodies. We posed in front of Nazi symbology. It's our fault that the Commandant has had to publicly apologizefor a problem that our poor leadership caused.