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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Rubber Tanks, Cardboard cars, and lousy leadership.

This post is dedicated to Dr. Fitch and "Dr." Dulla, Two of my mentors who continue to challenge my way of thinking and cause internal growth.

What do these three things: rubber tanks, cardboard cars, and lousy leadership have in common? First of all we all need to have the same concepts or ideas pictured before we can answer this riddle. During world war two, the allies made up an entire division of rubber tanks and placed them in a strategic location to fool the German intelligence. From a distance, the tanks looked real and no one was allowed to get close enough to realize that they were in fact rubber models. In the late eighties, a law enforcement agency did not have the money to hire new officers, so they created cardboard silhouettes of police cars and placed them in high crime areas to ward off criminal activity. As for lousy leadership, well I think we all have some form of experience we can pull from. So, what do these three things have in common?

Well, lets see. They are all hollow, they are not approachable, they are useless in a conflict, and they only serve a limited purpose for a limited time. They are items that have a limited finish and no substance. Mr. Fitch and Mr. Dulla asked me today what is the single most important trait of good leadership? I said the ability of a person to admit that they are wrong about something. These two fellas started writing down my answer in their little book and I was a bit puzzled. Then they told me that they were going to use my answer in some article they are writing. Anyway, I started to think about this question on my way home tonight, that is when I came up with the rubber tank and cardboard car thing. I also think that about the needed mindset of a good leader. Why is it that as leaders, we must make choices with limited understand of massive situations? Why are leaders often times forced to make a command decision that will have an huge effect on many lives with only a small piece of the picture to work from? I came up with another crazy concept, "Phractional Leadership"(misspelled on purpose). A good leader must develop the mindset that they only see a fraction of the whole. That their perspective can in no way be complete to start with. This mindset creates what in the leader? I think a leader that can achieve this mindset will develop a leadership style that is approachable, honest, seeks input, willing to listen to all around them, and will remain humble. This mindset would be like owning only one slice of the whole pizza. A leader would need to understand what was on the other slices before he/she could make a decision about what the whole pizza looks like, or should look like.

Phractional leadership is about understanding that life is made up of many parts. It seeks to understand how all these parts work together and against each other. It is a very simple concept that creates a unique picture in one's mind. I do not know as much as the whole knows. What is bigger than me is not bigger than us. It allows leaders to stop acting like they know everything. It allows leaders to stop making stupid choices because they more afraid of looking stupid than they are of being stupid.



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