I was intrigued yesterday by recent comments by Admiral Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on his recent trip to Afghanistan.
Each soldier is going to have use leadership in the fight, the chairman said. They are going to have to learn all they can and make important decisions.
“I want to encourage you to do that: to lead quietly, to lead [while] listening, to lead [by] understanding what the challenges are for these people,” Mullen said. “Because in the end, they want to raise their kids to a higher standard of living, [and] they’d like to do it in peace and security, just like you and I.”
On the surfact, his call for leadership does not seem very military-like but seems appropriate for the times and mission.
First he is asking for every solder to lead. This is a great example of "anyone can lead" when you consider the strict chain of command that the military makes famous. You don't need a title to lead, you don't have to be an officer.
Secondly, I appreciate his call for quiet leadership and interpret this as a call for a calmer more sane approach to the Afghan situation. He describes the importance of listening and understanding. It is very different from the command and control approach that many leaders define as leadership.
The quote gives me a new perspective on the renewed mission in Afghanistan.
This information came to me via a Google Alert that I have set up that alerts me when the phrase "lead quietly" is used on the web or news. I was pretty surprised to see the military reference.
Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly even if you are in the military.