We are just back from a “Lessons from Little Bighorn” workshop in Montana, and it was a real treat to visit that beautiful battlefield, which looks today much as it did in 1876.
Our Cheyenne guide gave a passionate and moving tour of the large battlefield, highlighting the heroic deeds of Crazy Horse, Gall, and Two Moons. The next day in class we heard the inevitable question, “Why do you focus on Sitting Bull in this class when he did not even fight in the Battle of Little Bighorn?”
Let me answer the skeptics with more questions: Why did Lincoln not fight in the Battle of Gettysburg? Why did Eisenhower not cross the English Channel with the first wave of troops on D-Day? Why does a coach not go on to the field, pick up the ball, and run for a touchdown?
Someone has to be the strategic thinker and organizer, the one who keeps the entire “field” in his planning. His/her job is to inspire the fighters to want to stay together and work together toward a common goal.
Sitting Bull had brought together a summer encampment of 7 Dakota tribes, 2 Nakota tribes, along with Cheyenne and Gros Ventre tribes. Hundreds of teepees were pitched in circles by tribe, each with independent leadership and accustomed to moving on their own. Sitting Bull, who anticipated a fight with the advancing U.S. Army, worked to build an allied fighting force, but one that allowed tribes to fight as separate units.
He appealed to the young warriors, praising their courage, while holding their high energy in check, so they would be ready for the large fight to come. He met with the tribal leaders repeatedly, emphasizing their similarities and their shared need to protect their lands and people from the whites. And he publicly performed a ritual Sun Dance, sharing his vision of “soldiers falling into camp.” That vision was interpreted as a major victory over the soldiers, and the message spread throughout the combined campsites.
So my answer, after you learn of the battlefield heroics of the colorful Crazy Horse and stalwart Gall, is that Sitting Bull was absolutely essential to the winning of the Battle of Little Bighorn. It was he who called for the tribal gatherings, who kept the tribes focused on staying together for a big victory, who unified the young warriors, and who did not tamper with the strength of the individual fighting skills of the warrior leaders.
What if the battle had not been won by the tribes on June 25 and 26, 1876? Who would have pulled together a retreat, or re-organized into different defensive units? Who would have taken the blame for the loss? This victory needed a strategic thinker and inspirer, and they had that in the noble Sitting Bull.
Who, in your office, is the strategic thinker, the big-picture advocate? In many organizations today, people are spread out on different floors, in buildings across the street, in regional offices around the state or country. Who helps keep these warriors focused on the big picture? Maybe you are the one to step up to that role. Become their inspirer.
For those of us who love old movies and are WWII buffs, this past Memorial Day Weekend with all its movie re-runs was a treat. If you ever doubted the patriotic fervor that gripped the country during WWII, just scan this list and see how many Hollywood and TV personalities you recognize (and this list is not all-inclusive).
In 2016, 62% of employees were treated rudely at work at least once a month, according to a global, annual poll on workplace incivility. Does that figure surprise you?
The sad consequence of rude behavior is that 22% of employees say they purposely quit doing their best work due to incivility. The impact on the organization is a decline in overall performance as employees feel less committed, spend less time at work, and even take out their frustrations on clients.
At the request of a long-time client, we recently developed a program on communicating professionally—using tools for body language, active listening, meetings behavior, handling conflict, email and telephone etiquette, and stopping gossip.
But where do we find role models from history (our specialty) to illustrate civility? Our research discovered that George Washington wrote “Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation” as a school exercise in 1744. Many of his 110 rules are equally relevant today as they were two centuries ago.
Thank you, Mr. President. Anna Post, great-granddaughter of Emily Post, puts Washington’s rules into perspective.
Manners do change over time, our society advances, so how we interact as part of it changes, too. We see this in the disappearance of chaperones and calling cards, and in new standards for new technology, such as cell phones and social networks. But there are some aspects of etiquette that are tried and true, gold standards unchanged no matter the times, no matter the culture. These essential principles of how we treat one another are consideration, respect, and honesty... They are the standard to look to when you are unsure of how to act.
If you need some civility training for your team, give us a call, 717-334-9089. Let’s help bring respect back to the workplace.
The Power of Courageous Leadership in Turbulent Times
Where else can you find five compelling leadership cases—Ernest Shackleton, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Rachel Carson—all in the same book? This new study by Harvard Business School professor, Nancy Koehn, compares people whose leadership qualities were “forged” through turbulent times. She writes, “once they were in the middle of calamity . . . they couldn’t give up. Rather, each resolutely navigated through the storm and was transformed.”
Each stand-alone chapter provides an engrossing biography, tying it to the critical times that shaped the individual’s leadership growth.
For those of us committed to teaching through historical example, this book is a treasure. The lessons are ones we have preached for years—the power of vision over personal goals; the importance of strong, persuasive communications; the need for resilience. Koehn also emphasizes the importance of empathy and compassion that these five leaders felt and exhibited. “Part of the reason that these five ordinary people could do extraordinary things was that they led from their humanity. They used their personal experience, particularly their empathy, to help motivate and sustain others.”
Have you been lamenting your workplace stress, with so many fires to put out daily that you have no time to lead? Then pick up the biography of Shackleton or Carson or the others in this book. You may find yourself re-charged and inspired to go “at it” with renewed faith.
Or call us for a leadership program that helps your staff come to terms with their own turbulent times. Through colorful stories and inspiring leaders, we can help your team see their challenges in perspective and re-energize for the new year. Check these program options: http://www.tigrettleadershipacademy.com/multi-day-programs.html.
No time for weighing anything except what we can do best for the country as a whole
It was June 1940, and Chicago sweltered in the heat. The Democratic convention was at fever pitch—first about whether to give Franklin D. Roosevelt a try for a third term as President (setting a precedent), and then fighting over the long list of vice presidential candidates.
FDR did not attend the convention, keeping a low profile in Washington. But he let the convention know that he wanted Henry Wallace (his Secretary of Agriculture and the strongest supporter of FDR’s New Deal policies) as vice president. Conventioneers however did not want someone telling them which man to select, and factions were pushing their own candidates. FDR, determined to have Wallace, threatened to pull out if they did not approve Wallace for VP. There was pandemonium in the convention hall as names were proposed.
Eleanor, meanwhile, was having a quiet day in Hyde Park, New York, knitting peacefully at home with the radio tuned to the convention proceedings in Chicago. Then the phone rang, and FDR asked Eleanor to fly to Chicago to intercede on his behalf. She packed a small bag, flew to New York and then Chicago, and arrived as the convention was in full swing, with nominating speeches bringing delegates into the aisles yelling and screaming.
Just before the balloting for vice president was to begin, Mrs. Roosevelt stepped up to the rostrum, and the crowd fell silent—surely a sign of respect from the agitated delegates. She spoke with only her notes, and in the silence, she was heard by everyone in the crowd.
Any man who is in an office of great responsibility today faces a heavier responsibility, perhaps, than any man has ever faced before in this country. Therefore, to be a candidate of either great political party is a very serious and solemn thing. . .
When she ended, there was a short silence, as people reflected on her words, and then enthusiastic applause broke out through the entire room. When she returned to her seat, the balloting began, and by the end of that first ballot, Wallace had won the majority of the votes to become the vice-presidential nominee. Eleanor’s calming voice and her appeal to a higher cause, brought perspective, and they accepted her call to action: “You will have to rise above considerations which are narrow and partisan.”
Back in Washington, FDR phoned the convention and announced he would deliver his acceptance speech. He spoke via radio broadcast from Washington, DC at 1:20 AM, accepting their nomination and running for an unprecedented third term as President.
For more lessons from the remarkable Eleanor Roosevelt, let us bring a short program to your work team.
If you haven’t yet seen Darkest Hour, you owe yourself this treat to learn about a part of WWII history seldom discussed—Churchill’s first month in office, in the midst of war, fighting to win over his own War Cabinet. Perhaps his most important victory was gaining Cabinet consensus to commit the nation to war and not negotiate peace terms with Hitler.
Director Joe Wright takes the back-room negotiations (which could have been portrayed as “talking heads”) and dramatizes them with soaring music, brilliant cinematography, battle scenes in the air, and the tension of the Dunkirk evacuation. Even though you know that England will take on Hitler’s raging forces, you find yourself wrapped up in the story, feeling the intensity of the negotiations.
Be alerted, though, that the screenwriters have twisted the history, adding such fiction as Churchill’s London Underground ride, when he conducts a focus group with average citizens to learn how they feel about committing their country to war. They, of course, advise him to “never surrender.”
To add drama, the characterizations are overdrawn, with former Prime Minister Chamberlain scheming with Lord Halifax (senior Conservative Party member) to get Churchill voted out of office (by a vote of no confidence in Parliament) and then put Halifax in his place. There is no evidence to show such conspiring. In fact, Churchill’s War Cabinet meetings were recorded meticulously (including 9 contentious meetings between May 24 and May 28, 1940) and published, giving us the real story.
At times, Churchill is pictured as a tortured man, uncertain and indecisive. Phooey! He was a man of many faults (many, like his drinking, showcased in the movie), but he was decisive and he welcomed fierce debate and arguments. He was a brilliant writer, who worked over and over his speeches, until his meaning was clear, the phrasing dramatic, and the call to action forceful. On May 28, Churchill told his War Cabinet “that every man of you would rise up and tear me down from my place if I were for one moment to contemplate parley or surrender. If this long island story of ours is to end at last, let it end only when each one of us lies choking in his own blood upon the ground.”
This movie shares a story worth telling, and, with these cautions, I hope you will enjoy a colorful insight into the working of British government.
As a leadership role model, Churchill is colorful, dramatic, and memorable, and we offer three different Churchill leadership programs, ranging from a half day overview to a three-day intensive seminar. See our Website for details or call.
Inspired by our recent meeting with Teddy Roosevelt we wondered how TR’s values, his vision, and leadership style might give us hope and strength in today’s chaotic world.
To sit home, read one's favorite paper, and scoff at the misdeeds of the men who do things is easy, but it is markedly ineffective. It is what evil men count upon the good men's doing.
Not only did he write those words, Roosevelt lived them, swinging into action whenever he saw a need. A believer in conservation, he took bold steps when he saw America’s natural resources being depleted. He worked to set aside 230 million acres of land, creating 150 national forests, 55 federal wildlife refuges, and 5 national parks.
In international affairs, he negotiated an end to the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) and pushed through the building of the Panama Canal. With his energy and visionary leadership, Roosevelt helped America become a world power, and he became the first American awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Much has been given us, and much will rightfully be expected from us. We have duties to others and duties to ourselves; and we can shirk neither. We have become a great nation, forced by the fact of its greatness into relations with the other nations of the earth, and we must behave as be seen as a people with such responsibilities.
A serious student of history, TR urged Americans to study the great leaders of our past and follow their vision.
We must show, not merely in great crises, but in the everyday affairs of life, the qualities of practical intelligence, of courage, of hardihood, and endurance, and above all the power of devotion to a lofty ideal, which made great the men who founded this Republic in the days of Washington, which made great the men who preserved this Republic in the days of Abraham Lincoln.
In honor of Native American Heritage Month, we share a lesson from one of our favorite Indian leaders, Sitting Bull. This Hunkpapa Lakota warrior had “earned his stripes” as both a warrior leader and a wise, civil leader. In his middle years, he gave up active fighting and spent his time as a medicine man. A thoughtful and generous man, he had gained a reputation for humanitarian deeds—securing the release of a white woman in 1864 and saving the life of an Assiniboine boy, whom he later adopted.
In the Plains Indian culture, no one individual literally commanded others; instead, he led through influence. In that environment, Sitting Bull worked continuously to communicate with other leaders, spending time talking with younger warriors as well as tribal elders. He also understood the value of symbolism, making his life and deeds the personification of tribal values.
Before the Battle of Little Bighorn, he took part in the ritual Sun Dance (dancing for three days with skewers attached from a pole to his skin), bringing public attention to his vision of a coming battle.
Sitting Bull understood that one does not communicate or motivate all people with the same tools. Some need face-to-face visits, others need to hear public announcements, some react to symbolic gestures, and some are energized in meetings with peers. The success of the Indians at the Battle of Little Bighorn is a tribute to a man who brought multiple tribes and multiple levels within those tribes to focus on a common cause. When Custer made his surprise attack on June 25, 1876, the Lakota and Cheyenne tribes were ready.
In these contentious times, with Confederate statues being removed from public places around the country, we are reprinting this story.
Asked why he kept a picture of Robert E. Lee in his White House office, our 34th President wrote:
General Robert E. Lee was, in my estimation, one of the supremely gifted men produced by our Nation. He believed unswervingly in the Constitutional validity of his cause which until 1865 was still an arguable question in America; he was thoughtful yet demanding of his officers and men, forbearing with captured enemies but ingenious, unrelenting and personally courageous in battle, and never disheartened by a reverse or obstacle. Through all his many trials, he remained selfless almost to a fau...
From deep conviction, I simply say this: a nation of men of Lee’s caliber would be unconquerable in spirit and soul. Indeed, to the degree that presentday American youth will strive to emulate his rare qualities, including his devotion to this land as revealed in his painstaking efforts to help heal the nation’s wounds once the bitter struggle was over, we, in our own time of danger in a divided world, will be strengthened and our love of freedom sustained.
Such are the reasons that I proudly display the picture of this great American on my office wall.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
August 9, 1960