Lessons for Leaders

Part 1 of 496: Leaders

German General Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord has been quoted as saying

I divide my officers into four classes; the clever, the lazy, the industrious, and the stupid. Most often two of these qualities come together. The officers who are clever and industrious are fitted for the highest staff appointments. Those who are stupid and lazy make up around 90% of every army in the world, and they can be used for routine work. The man who is clever and lazy however is for the very highest command; he has the temperament and nerves to deal with all situations. But whoever is stupid and industrious is a menace and must be removed immediately!

(Originally posted on Facebook 2009-11-29)

Part 2 of 496: Be a Proper Leader

German General Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord on how to be a proper leader (Translation below.):

Machen Sie sich frei von Kleinarbeit. Dazu halten Sie sich einige wenige kluge Leute. Lassen Sie sich aber viel Zeit, sich Gedanken zu machen und sich vor sich selbst ganz klar zu werden. Sorgen Sie dafür, dass Ihre Gedanken ausgeführt werden. Nur so können Sie richtig führen.

My translation (second-cut):

Free yourself of trivial tasks. Keep several clever people for that. But take lots of time to develop concepts and to be clear in those concepts. Ensure that your concepts are carried through. Only that way can you lead properly.

(Originally posted on Facebook 2009-11-29)

Part 496 of 496: When to go

Don’t wait to be pushed. This can damage the organization and the pursuit of its objectives.

Regularly, perhaps as often as daily; ponder how well you are able to realize your ideas and to fill the objectives of those you represent. If you don’t have enough time to think objectively about that, see Parts 1 and 2.

If, after due consideration, objectives have not been or can not be met due to you own lack of ability to lead, then you must honestly consider if another will be better able to take up leadership in pursuit of the objective. One’s ego must not get in the way.

Outline to your organization what you see as its objectives and what you perceive to be the obstacles to achieving them. Make it clear that the purpose of leadership is to steer the organization towards its objectives.

By the mechanisms are available in your organization, you must then hand over the responsibilities of leader to the appropriate person. The responsibility of a former leader is to let subsequent leaders lead.

(With edits. Originally posted on Facebook 2010-01-02)