The Generals is an excellent book by Thomas Ricks, the courageous author of Fiasco. Please see the previous blog post below about his book. In that post, I was trying to capture the concept of leadership as described by John Marshall, Chief of Staff of the Army in WWII. Today, I find that the Army's method of finding leaders is called a "filtered" system. To make such a system work in the world outside the Army, according to Elizabeth Samet, in Leadership: Essential Writings by Our Greatest Thinkers, one must mix a filtered system of developing leaders with an unfiltered system. A filtered system is one similar to the Army where similar experiences are shared by all the candidates. According to Gautam Mikunda of Harvard Business school, an unfiltered leader such as Lincoln (perhaps Obama?) can serve effectively on some occasions where things are going badly.
Leadership, as reported in the New Yorker, Feb 29,2016, has come to be seen as a "process-based" enterprise.
"A problem emerges, a leader is selected, a goal is developed, a team is assembled, the goal is reevaluated, and so on."
This strikes me as exactly how the flow of problem-solving takes place in a construction project. 10 or fifteen subcontractors are involved in even a small room addition to a house, they all might have some expertise to contribute to the solution of a problem.
"A leader's job is to shepherd the team through a leadership process." says Joshua Rothman, writing for the New Yorker. He reports on the limited amount of success in deciphering even if leadership exists since first considered by Confuscious.
Well, most of us have seen leadership in a construction team. There's no mistaking it. Many times it seems that everything goes wrong, yet the project seems to get done on budget and in time. When this happens, it is easy to see the leadership process circle around many times. We've also seen prjects where the leadership had to change to get the project done. Oddly, that is the process that brought John Marshall highly honors. He would replace Generals until he found someone like Eisenhower. Of course we don't have this luxury but we aren't trying to win the largest fight in human history, we are just trying to build a strip mall in Syracuse in the winter.
The point here is that leadership is for everyone. Cooperation is the lubricant that makes the new leadership work.