On Command

Posted by | February 28, 2014 | Leaderology | 2 Comments

canstockphoto6029083I would be remiss if I did not initiate my website with a reference to the military legend that had the greatest impact on my approach to command, General George Smith Patton.  He will undoubtedly be the first entry into my Book of Light, because his approach to command, his visionary grasp of mechanized warfare, ability to inspire his team, and the accomplishments of the formations under his command were truly incredible for their time.  Importantly, Patton was also a colourful and articulate leader whose musings were as lucid and insightful as they were plentiful.  Patton’s example offers great lessons in leadership that transcend generations and circumstance, so it comes as no surprise that the General is often quoted and referred to by scholars and gurus in the business world.  Patton truly possessed a genius for command.

But what is command?  Ask a dozen different military officers and you will get a dozen different answers.  If you really want to confuse them, ask them to define the over-used and under-understood term Command and Control!  For years even the NATO glossary AAP-6, if memory serves, added to the confusion by using the same definition for command as for control.  The following are the definitions that I have embraced:

Command: The responsibility to influence the successful outcome of events or accomplishment of goals.  It is the product of leadership, management and authority.

Control: The means — processes, organizational structures, technologies and doctrines — to manage the execution of missions or tasks.  You can load a whole bunch of things into this category, like staff, radio and written communications, standard operating procedures, chains of command and divisions of labour.  The list goes on and on, and it continues to grow as the means at our disposal to control organizations becomes increasingly sophisticated and effective.

Leadership is the focus of my study, but it is intrinsically linked to the study of Command.  I think an appropriate civilian term for command might be stewardship.  In my opinion leadership is too often confused with stewardship.  People continuously refer to the person in charge as a group’s “leader”, and I would submit it is technically wrong to do so.  It has been proven time and time again that the people at the helms of organizations — The Captain of the ship, if you will — does not always exhibit stellar leadership skills, by anybody’s definition of the term.  Yet, even ships that are poorly “led” seem to stay afloat.  That is because as long as a ship is adequately managed by way of the Captain’s personal skills in planning, organizing, delegating and supervising it can sail.  Even in the lack of those attributes personally, a Captain can keep his ship afloat by baderging and bullying his staff.

But when it comes to fighting the ship, that is when a “leader” in the truest sense of the word, at least by my definition, rises above the managers, supervisors, dictators and tyrants.  Followers of my blog must keep this very important premise in mind.  Gorilla Leadership is all about “the fight,” it is all about competition!

This blog is about that brand of leadership.  It is a brand that is born of battle, and well suited for true Captains of Industry.

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