It is tempting as a leadership coach to use military analogies, and it is often justified, as here.
A couple of years ago I watched a documentary on the Battle of Fromelles in 1916. This centred on the identification of bodies from a mass grave and their reburial, and was very moving. Yet what struck me was that this was the second battle. The first took place in 1915, and the British lost. The same general commanded the British, but in between the Germans had built concrete bunkers which withstood the bombardment prior to the attack. The defences being left intact, the result was another defeat.
Whatever General Haking had learned in 1915 was irrelevant because what he was facing had changed, and he did not realise it. So some 7.000 British and Australian men died.
Do not fight the previous war
Any business leader who gets the next few years wrong will not bury their troops. They will instead bury their business. Leaders need
- Good intelligence – economic, market and competitive. Knowing what has changed and what has not, and what may be coming next.
- Strategy – doing the right thing, and deciding who will do it
- To align strategy, people, assets and inspiration
- To lead their people, and for them to follow – being alone in no man’s land is only slightly better than the bullets coming from your own troops
- To learn, and adapt to change
- To remember that those in the front line need to be taken care of, not sacrificed.