Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Combat Zone Leader

Simple thoughts by Chester B Cabalza

“Never pass up the opportunity to remain silent”

In the article by William G. Pagonis, based form his experience in the Middle East, he thought that leadership is not simple, yet too often, leadership is presented as an abstract undertaking with a matter of vision and values rather than practical detail.

This is true, especially that there are now many guides on how to become a good and effective leader. However, Lieutenant General Pagonis’ kind of leadership, with his expansive operational duties in different parts of the globe, like in Vietnam, Germany, and Iraq, to name a few, has a unique way of looking at leadership.

He deems that one needs charisma, presence and other notions. Thus he champions that no military commander downplay the importance of personal presence in leadership. Almost every combat officer is put to test to command presence. Loyalty and trust are also vital in combat zones where conflicts and pressures can immediately escalate when it is not handled properly.

What matter most, according to the principle of leadership propagated by General Pagonis is that: whether one is running a company or feeding, clothing, and equipping an army, the bedrock principles of leadership don’t change. A combat leader should know his stuff and listen hard, and can manage his troops to fight like lions for him.

There should also expertise or the art of war and empathy to help others. Expertise can be acquired by hard work and sometimes by luck. But empathy is innate in us by helping fellows hurt in war. Empathy is an absolutely vital quality because it helps you know where to draw the line and make it stick.

Yes, I agree that by definition, leaders do not operate in isolation; rather a good leader in combat zone involves cooperation and collaboration. The other piece involves system building to ensure that the right information flows back up through the organization to the leader.

To conclude, what is good about this article is its presentation on how to handle pressures at the same time it helps you to emerge as an effective and charismatic leader in combat zone where you can affect your troops to boost high morale and remain strong and determined as you carry the quality of expertise, empathy, loyalty, and trustworthiness.

The Decision Maker

Simple thoughts by Chester B Cabalza

“The price of greatness is responsibility”
Winston Churchill, in a speech at Harvard University (6 September 1943).

In one of the military articles I recently read, there is a scenario to test the wit of an Army leader in times of crisis to ensure a right national security decision making. In that scenario, Colonel Hank Tuuth, nicknamed as “Fang”, is a seasoned and successful Air Force, who would be promoted as Brigadier General, but was later tested when in 1992 the NATO Forces were tasked to immediately reduce operations in Spain.

There are times that as national security decision makers we have to deal with various role-playing situations. Just like the National Security Decision Making (NSDM) game, that is a fast-paced, challenging simulation of contemporary politics and eternal strategic principles. It is modeled after the simulations used by senior U.S. Government officials to explore geopolitical options. Thus, players will be assigned to individual roles within a variety of nation-states. "Real world" dynamics will inexorably draw these player-states toward cooperation in some areas and conflict in others. Meanwhile, within each state, players will inevitably find themselves aligned with some players in the pursuit of common goals, and against others as each seeks to obtain advantages for their interest group and achieve personal political ascendancy (

In the given scenario, many times there were challenges and threats on how Colonel Hank Tuuth will cope to the situation, such as getting worthwhile opportunities to train pilots, getting them to the practice of bombing ranges, while they are in operation 24/7.

Because of this, I deem that when making a tough decision, ask yourself what would you do if all parties involved knew your true intentions and your true desires. Imagine you lived in a world where everyone could tell if you were speaking the truth, or lying, or hiding something. What actions would you take then? Asking this question leads you to see what is truly in your heart. Certainly, that should help you make the right decision.

Planning is useful in emergency situations, too. When a crisis arises, a little thought about the overall plan will help determine which decision to make that will not only help resolve the crisis but will also help advance the overall plan. Without a plan, crises are dealt with haphazardly and decisions are made which may ultimately be in conflict with each other. Decisions made under the guidance of planning can work together in a coherent way to advance company or individual goals.

Just like in the scenario when it ended, there was presentation of many of the recent challenges faced at Aviano Air Base in Italy where Colonel Hank Tuuth was located. Hence, the depicted US and NATO chains of command had been simplified, following the useful planning strategy to achieve a better national security decision making.

The Strategic Leader

Simple thoughts by Chester B. Cabalza

“To lead is not to influence others to do something they are not committed to, but rather to nurture a culture that motivates and even excites individuals to do what is required for the benefit of all.”- Arthur F Carmazzi, in The Colored Brain Communication Field Manual (2009), page 76.

I subscribe to the idea that all professional Army leaders consistently prepare themselves for greater responsibilities while mastering core leader competencies. To become organizational and strategic leaders, they should be multiskilled leaders who can comfortably operate at all levels of leadership to apply their vast experiences and knowledge for success across the spectrum of conflicts. They must develop programs and plans and synchronize the appropriate systems allowing soldiers in small unit to turn tactical and operational models into action.

In organizational and strategic leadership, leadership by example must exude wide ranging competency and knowledge. Organizational leaders must build teams of teams with discipline, cohesion, trust, and proficiency. However, they say that modern organizational leaders now are multiskilled and multipurpose leaders. They have to develop a strong background in doctrine, tactics, techniques, and procedures, as well as an appreciation for the geopolitical consequences of their application.

In my experience, as an organizational leader, I rely heavily on developing my subordinates and empowering them to execute their assigned responsibilities and missions. More so, soldiers and subordinate leaders, in turn, look to organizational leaders to set achievable standards, to provide clear intent, and to provide necessary resources.

In one point of my career, there are times that conflicts arise in work. I do deem that leaders often must leverage negotiating skills to obtain cooperation and support necessary to accomplish a mission beyond the traditional chain of command. A successful negotiating involves communicating a clear position on relevant issues and integrating understanding of motives while conveying a willingness to bargain on other issues. Thus, good negotiators visualize several possible end states while maintaining a clear idea of the optimal end state.

It is true, as General Gordon Sullivan has opined that, if you are a leader, your people expect you to create their future. They look into your eyes, and they expect to see strength and vision. To be successful, you must inspire and motivate those who are following you. When they look into your eyes, they must see that you are with them.

This happens in large organizations, especially that most of Army’s organizational leaders play critical part when it comes to maintaining focus on fighting the enemy; and your men look up to you as their strength and inspiration. With this kind of situation, organizational leaders represent the critical link to collecting, recording, and exploring the tactical and operational lessons learned. They ultimately direct the integration of critical experiences and new concepts into doctrine and future training.

Seasoned strategic and organizational leaders know themselves - the mission and the message. They own it to their organization and men to share much information as possible. Thusly, they must take a long-term approach to developing the entire organization. They prepare their organizations to boost the spirit and morale in order to achieve victory in any endeavors.

Aside from the motivations and right values and conduct shown toward organizational leadership, I believe that in order to foster the culture of systemic organizational leadership, one must also prepare his self. Leadership begins at the top, and so does developing. They keep a focus on where the organization needs to go and what all leaders must be capable of accomplishing.

Also, one important organizational leader responsibility is to create an environment that enables and supports people within the organization to learn from the experiences of others. To strengthen learning in organizations, organizational leaders can make interdependent avenues available for lifelong learning on assignment oriented training, simulations, learning centers, and virtual training.

To foster building team skills and processes, according to the article, organizational leaders recognize that their respective organization is a ‘team’ – that has to learn confidence and excellence that will be translated into reality. He must empower his team within a larger organization and must exploit the value of a creative staff composed of competent and trustworthy subordinates.

In my mind, I admire strategic and organizational leaders who achieve consistent results and are competent in planning, preparing, executing, and assessing. While leaders can continuously emphasize teamwork and cooperation, they also understand healthy competition as an effective motivator. They must provide clear focus with their intent so their subordinates may accomplish the mission, no matter what happens to the original.

The Seasoned Executive

Simple thoughts by Chester B. Cabalza

“In matters of style, swim with the current: in matters of principle, stand like a rock.” - Thomas Jefferson, as quoted in Careertracking: 26 success Shortcuts to the Top (1988)

I sometimes think how a great manager can handle a big organization – minute by minute how he decides and analyze problems and inevitable situations and at the end of the day becomes successful after firm decisions. Indeed, seasoned managers at all levels must play the role of very good decision makers. However, to become effective decision makers, he must undergo a process – by learning new skills and behaviors and by creating and evaluating options.

The article of “The Seasoned Executive’s Decision-Making Style,” suggests four styles of decision making of a seasoned executive. He must be (1) decisive, (2) flexible, (3) hierarchic, and (4) integrative. Naturally, I believe that managers make decisions differently in public settings as well as in private settings. Herein, to be decisive means that the decision style is direct, efficient, fast, and firm. Publicly, this action-focused style comes across as task-oriented.

In the chart of styles of decision-making, the author Kenneth Brousseau, in gist illustrated the following options: to be flexible suggests that this style is about speed and adaptability. Managers make decisions quickly and change course just as quickly to keep abreast of immediate and shifting situations. Thus in public, this flexible style comes across as highly social and responsive. The hierarchic style of decision making insist that people using this highly analytical and focused style expect their decisions, once taken, to be final and to stand the test of time. Also in public, this complex style comes across as highly intellectual. Lastly, the integrative mode speaks of people frame problems broadly, using input from many sources, and makes decisions involving multiple courses of action that may evolve over time as circumstances change. In public, this creative style comes across as highly participative. In my view, I see myself as flexible yet integrative, multifocus yet maximizing in the number of options in my decision-making.

It says that it is essential to use leadership style that keeps the information pipeline open and the data flowing freely to access best information and analysis. However, the most successful managers come to the convergence zone more quickly than the least successful and continue to adjust and adapt to different styles as their careers progress.

Needless to say, one of the flaws of managers is that they fail to evolve on how they make decisions and fail to recognize and correct their erroneous decision. A brave and seasoned executive must at all times follow what is righteous and upright. This brings to the idea that global managers emerge, they must ensure a culture of effective and efficient leadership by way of their good decision-making, at times of risky and difficult times. And as pointed out by the author, when decision-making style is compared in Europe, Asia, and Latin America, there is apparent cultural impact on leadership and thinking styles. The differences in terms of which styles vary from one culture to another. What matters most is the universal principle that they must learn, adapt, evolve, and keep abreast with their leadership styles and good decision-making process.

Inspiring Leaders

Simple thoughts by Chester B Cabalza

The general perspective of research is to present results of any scientific discovery and strategic view to find solution to a particular type of problem. In this way, the researcher will show how the problem is directed to further solution or putting some light in the unknown areas of knowledge for one’s enlightenment to that particular area of knowledge. Thus, research actually helps us understand the reality more clearly.

My primary research interest dwells on Leadership. I deem that good leadership works also through emotions using emotional intelligence (EQ) in handling various personalities of people. However, leaders carry out this process by applying leadership attributes such as beliefs, values, ethics, character, knowledge and skills. Although some personality traits may lead people naturally into leadership roles based from the trait theory.

Based from my secondary research material that is published online on the secrets of inspiring leaders, it reminds us of the importance of inspirational leaders in our society because based from quantitative research through surveys, only 10 percent of employees look forward to going to work and most employees point to a lack of leadership as the reason why.

In one of the articles I read, it discusses the following seven techniques that leaders can use to inspire their employees, such as: (1) to demonstrate enthusiasm – constantly; (2) articulate a compelling course of action; (3) sell the benefit; (4) tell more stories: (5) invite participation; (6) reinforce an optimistic outlook; and (7) to encourage one’s potential.

I have chosen the said article because I consider myself a good leader that possesses strategy, vision, power, and powerful ideas. A good leader like me can ignite passion and inspiration to my subordinates and colleagues. This supports my character to being focused and responsible.

Just like what I believe in, research is significant because it forms as a cycle. It starts with a problem and ends with a solution to the problem. Every research works is intended to identify new opportunities for novel ideas. Research helps us to diagnosing any known problems or opportunities. It helps us to establish a standard of taking action on any chosen area of the knowledge domain. And lastly, it evaluates and develops the current strategies and systems.

It is usually one of the first statements made in any research paper, as well as it defines the research area, should a quick synopsis of how the hypothesis was arrived at. Research problem will lead to the proposal of a viable hypothesis. It is also the situation that causes the researcher to feel apprehensive. It is the demarcation of a problem area within a certain context involving the WHO or WHAT, the WHERE, the WHEN, and the WHY of the problem situation. In the article, it said that leadership is the key to employees’ engagement, innovation, and success. Herein, it asked several questions such as, are you investing in building your leadership ability? Are you setting a good example, setting vision, inspiring others, remaining optimistic and investing in others?

Hence, I should answer the research problems based from the primary factors that affect the issues in the research study. In the said article on leadership, the author suggested and discussed briefly the seven secrets of inspiring leaders by enumerating techniques that leaders can use to inspire their employees.

Data analysis is a practice in which raw data is ordered and organized so that useful information can be extracted from it. The process of organizing and thinking about data is the key to understanding what the data does not contain. In the course of organizing the data, trends often emerge, and these trends can be highlighted in the write up of the data to ensure that readers take note. Summarizing data is often critical to supporting the arguments. In the article, techniques on inspirational leadership were gathered based from real experiences of people combined together as lessons learned.

Findings or conclusions are based from facts and figures collected to convey strengths and weaknesses of the study. It encapsulates the totality and essence of the study because it embodies all the processes done in the study and presents it through findings and conclusions. It can be the summary of the entire study encapsulated in organized thoughts under findings and conclusions.

So far, the short article on the secrets of inspiring leaders did not expressly give recommendations. On the other hand, from the questions it posted, the essay has shown inferences to the readers on what they ought to do to become inspiring leaders. Hence, recommendations usually include appropriate and specific recommendations as part of the conclusion, which should always be specific and appropriate to the researcher’s readers.

I therefore classify the uploaded article on inspiring leaders as secondary qualitative research. It is secondary research because it looks at existing data which was summarized, collated, and synthesized. Also, a qualitative research because it examines what human behaviors and reason behind it. It also tackles on what people should do and why.