Tuesday, October 6, 2009

2009 Gettysburg Staff Ride - Stand 4
(Discussion facilitated by Bill Molumby)

Hancock & Howard – Practical vs. Positional Leadership

If you have read Leading Up by Michael Useem you will be familiar with the dynamics of rank in organizations. Hancock had been appointed by Meade to assume command of the federal troops at Gettysburg. The problem for Hancock was that Howard, then in command, was in positional leadership (28 days Hancock’s superior in rank). Hancock had the practical position. Hancock found himself in a difficult position, one of moving a superior from adversary to ally. Without positional leadership, leading up requires vision, skill as well as respect.

Hancock displayed practical leadership in three ways:

• Vision – He studied the issues and developed a plan of action before arrival.
• Skill - He gained Howard’s agreement by presenting his plan in a way that included Howard in the decision and provided for his dignity.
• Respect – While he had the official order to take the command, he also understood the importance of honor and respect in implementing it.

Ego & pride are under currents in this dynamic between Howard and Hancock. If there is another lesson it is this: We can never afford to let our selves get caught up in the “I” if we care about the “We.”

"I think this is the strongest position upon which to fight a battle, and with your agreement, I select this as the battle-field."
Hancock to Howard, July 1st, 1863
2009 Gettysburg Staff Ride - Stand 3
(Discussion facilitated by Bill Molumby)

Lt. General Richard Ewell – Leaders Intent, Opportunity, and the Human Factor

Remember the success Ewell had on the afternoon of July 1st. Although he had not received written orders or instructions, he combined both leaders intent (Lee’s) and situational awareness (as reported to him by Rodes) to take positive action. His movement and engagement of resources at the right time and place were critical to that afternoon’s success. Ultimately though, his decision later that afternoon remains a significant discussion point 150 years later.

The Confederate’s had the Union Army on the retreat. Lee’s vision was taking shape before his eyes. If Ewell would continue pressing forward and take the high ground, Lee’s intent would become reality. The opportunity was there. The time was right; but human factors such as fatigue, friction, and communication played a heavy hand.

We see this same scenario played out on wildland fires. Whether it’s IC to PSC, OSC to OPBD, or LSC to FACL, is the intended end state being communicated correctly and in the end carried out with the same level of commitment and urgency?

Three points come to mind relative to this discussion:

• Is my intent clear or ambiguous?
• Do I see opportunities for success or situations control me?
• Is there friction, fatigue, or other human factors affecting decisions?

"to carry the hill occupied by the enemy, if you find it practicable…”
General Lee to Ewell
2009 Gettysburg Staff Ride - Stand 2
(Discussion facilitated by Bill Molumby)

General Buford

If you remember, Buford skirted the southern army for a number of days, collecting intelligence as well as thinking about the Southern Army’s intentions. Once it became clear in his mind what was to transpire and the potential consequences if not checked, he engaged in what might be termed a unique and history changing plan of action. The points for me to remember are:

• Situational awareness – he collected information and understood its meaning.
• Vision – with that information he determined how events would unfold.
• Bias for Action – he engaged in high risk/key action engagement.
• Communication – he successfully communicated his vision to his superior.

"They will attack you in the morning and they will come booming–skirmishers three deep. You will have to fight like the devil until supports arrive."
General John Buford at Gettysburg – June 30, 1863
2009 Gettysburg Staff Ride - Stand 1
(Discussion facilitated by Bill Molumby)

General Meade

Remember General Meade and the orders he received from General Halleck placing him in command of the Army of the Potomac at 3:00 a.m.? To me it was very typical of an early morning call an Incident Commander receives informing them of their team's activation to an incident. I’ve had many of those calls as I am sure you have also. Those initial orders were filled with many pending challenges, least of which involved the interaction with management, the public and your leadership team. While the situational awareness may not be at the level we would like initially, we are well aware that we will be working with and for others who are stressed out, need our help, and are looking for immediate functional leadership. That is what we do and why we are called.

Halleck’s letter on June 27th to Meade reads much like a delegation of authority. In fact, I wish most of my delegations were as clear, succinct, and filled with leader’s intent as Halleck’s. Alas, while our delegation may not be as we would like, we must translate those orders to our subordinates with our vision and then give them the latitude to be successful.

“Here we are, now what is the best thing to do?” – General Meade, July 2nd