On Leadership

Sorry for using a title that has been used many many times, but it does a good job of capturing the essence of this post.

Erik Mazzone has an interesting post today titled “How to Lead like the Godfather” which got me to thinking about leadership. The essence of Erik’s post is that the old way of leading via the “Command and Control” mentality is dead (I agree). Erik writes that the problem with this type of leadership style is that it is:

famous for its top down approach, which gives the absolute minimum amount discretion to the individual worker. The worker is told what to do, when to do it, and how to do it.

The better way to lead according to Erik (and I agree) is to lead by using a “Command & Connect” approach. This is done by in the following manner:

Be strong and in command, give the hard orders. But then give your people the leeway to get the job done in their own way. Keep the lines of communication open, though, and keep connecting with them.

Reading this made me think of the show about D-Day that I recently watched on The History Channel (or was it the Military Channel?) about the history of D-Day and some of the reasons for success. In the show, the author Stephen Ambrose was discussing the landings on Omaha Beach and giving his opinion as to why the landing was a success despite the overwhelming cliffs and defenders facing the American’s. Ambrose said (I am paraphrasing here):

The main reason for the success at Omaha Beach (and elsewhere during D-Day) was the ability of the American soldiers and officers to think on their feet. They had been well trained and then given a job to do and they did it. When they saw something that needed to be done they didn’t wait on HQ to give the command, they just did it. The American soldier was (and still is) trained to be an independent thinker and leader.

This is in sharp contrast to the German defenders who had been trained to be obedient and ask for orders before striking out. As an example, a German General had an entire Panzer division under his command but wasn’t allowed to insert this division into the battle at Omaha beach until late in the day because he had to wait for orders from German High Command before moving the division.

I think this is a perfect example of the “Command & Connect” leadership mentality and the success it can bring. The American forces had a “Command & Connect” mentality while the German forces were stuck in the “Command & Control” leadership style.

[tags] Leadership, Omaha Beach, Godfather Leadership [/tags]

About Eric D. Brown, D.Sc.

Eric D. Brown, D.Sc. is a data scientist, technology consultant and entrepreneur with an interest in using data and technology to solve problems. When not building cool things, Eric can be found outside with his camera(s) taking photographs of landscapes, nature and wildlife.
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[…] Whether the information from the article about Nardelli’s and McNerny’s leadership styles is accurate or not, it does a great job of comparing two leadership styles: The top down, autocratic style (i.e., Command & Control) of Nardelli and the relationship building style (i.e., Command & Connect) of McNerney. Read more on my thoughts of Command & Control vs Command & Connect leadership styles in my blog post titled “On Leadership“. […]