Re: Leadership and Personality LO2687
Wed, 6 Sep 1995 21:02:56 -0400

Replying to Tim Smith, LO2631 --

Tim, appreciate the thoughtful response.

>I have always felt that the military's mission was always quite clear,
while missions in organizations frequently are not. The complexity with
which we must deal requires much clear thinking-that takes time, as you
note, and that time is not often seen as 'productive' in many

This is the concern I have. If leaders or pacesetters won't take the time
to define their mission, what is it that people within the organization
are to concentrate on? I also ask this same question about vision. I do
not excuse lousy leadeship, letting them say they do not have the time.
Developing (or ensuring development of) mission and direction (vision) for
an organization are (along with values) the primary reasons they have
their jobs.

>It is also a very different organization, in fact, it is not 'civil' in
the way we think of 'civil' society. It has its own command structure,
judcical body, and laws that require a kind of obedience not found
elsewhere, as far as I can tell. These circumstances, like Clyde's game,
lead to a view (not necessarily wrong) that delimits leadership in ways I
cannot agree with.<

This is not a defense of the military. I'm attempting to understand why
you apparently reject all of what the military does even when they exhibit
SOME system behaviors we can LEARN from. Every large organization has it
own society. The only difference I noted between the military and any
company I have been a part of or associated with are the laws and judicial
body. However, the laws are pretty much common sense for people in combat.
Many of them are tradition without being constraining. All the rest
exists in typical command control hierarchies of old companies like Dow
Chemical, IBM, GM, etc. We call it culture, politics, fancy footwork. It
just is not admitted to on paper in publicly held institutions, but it is
as much "law" to them as judicial law is to the military.

It may sound like I use only the good part of the military for reference.
No!! I also discuss the not so good - I could never understand why the
group I was a part of in the Army in 1974 would not reduce from 100 to 75
when I demonstrated over a 12 month period how it could be done by doing
it. Actual productivity (versus productivity per nose) went up. Steadfast
refusal to change when everyone admitted it worked. In both cases, the
good and the not so good, I can learn from them.

>I accept this definition, but its not merely physical, it is nominal as
well. The 'captain' is not the only leader in a small unit, in fact,
he/she may not be much of a leader at all, no?<

Yes!! I pose that the captain is supposed to be the leader. Too much of
what is wrong with organizations is that we have figureheads in leadership
positions. If the captain is not supplying leadership, get one in the spot
who can and does.

>Not sure what this means..appointed. Leadership arises from the ground
of the individual's being, regardless of place in the hierarchy.

Appointed means put in place by some higher authority. Leadership cannot
be appointed. It is earned.

I find it useful to make the distinction with words leader and manager,
since they carry different implied meanings (and dictionary meanings).
Leadership has the capacity to gain voluntary commitment in going
someplace the group might otherwise have not gone. Management gets it done
today. I am not arguing right or wrong. It is merely a simpler way to
communicate with companies I've interfaced with in midwestern U.S.

>>Being physically "out front" is only a way to tease the manager into
>>thinking they may have something to contribute - control of
>>intelligent human beings.<<<<

>Not sure about what this means either 'tease the manager....etc'. Can
you clarify? Who is doing the teasing? What is to be 'teased out'?<

They are teasing themselves and their subordinate managers into believing
they contribute a lot more than they really do. Management has been
credited with a lot more control, coordination, communications than most
people I talk with who are not managers credit them for. It is the norm to
hear - "we did it in spite of our manager".

TRUE STORIES: In three separate cases of following another
manager into relatively large budget operations, it was quite
easy to cut the budget. I just let the engineers, maint folks,
operators, clerks, trainers manage the budgets. In all three
cases no one griped about not having enough money but
costs went down. The managers before me had been credited
with "controlling costs" to a low rate of 1-2% per year increase.

Yet, I did not "tease" myself into this belief. I just let the people
spending all the money control the spending. COSTS WENT
DOWN (versus up with previous management) AND I COULD
NEVER EXPLAIN HOW. I only knew why. Costs were not
controlled until the spenders controlled costs. So, I use the
word TEASE with sincere intent of using a new word to mean
an old concept - the myth of control by management.

Again, thanks for the response, Tim. Have a great day!

Dave Buffenbarger
Organizational Improvement Coach
Dow Chemical Company