Maxwell Air Force Base   Right Corner Banner
Join the Air Force

News > Commentary - Kinds of leaders
Kinds of leaders

Posted 10/26/2012   Updated 10/26/2012 Email story   Print story

    


Commentary by Lt. Col. Jonathan K. Rossow
Squadron Officer College


10/26/2012 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. - -- Retired Army Maj. Gen. Benjamin J. Butler is one of my heroes.

As a young officer during World War II, Butler led soldiers in combat in both the North African and Italian campaigns. By March 1945, he achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel and earned the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. Despite his name being on top of the rotation list, Butler declined returning stateside because of his dedication and commitment.

In 1990, I met Butler at an Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps dining-in. His commanding voice and larger than life presence filled the ballroom.

I remember sitting there thinking, "I want be a leader like him!" At the end of his presentation I quickly approached to further discuss his perspective on leadership. The conversation that ensued captivated my attention. At the end, I requested his notes. He didn't have any! All of it was spoken from his heart and years of experience.

However, he promised to capture his thoughts on paper and mail them to me. A few weeks later, I received in the mail a handwritten paper by Butler titled "Kinds of Leaders." The paper outlined nine examples of poor leaders and concluded with traits of "the true leader." Here is a synopsis of what he wrote.

Boss (the green-eyed monster) - Doesn't trust anyone, doesn't give credit and forgets the rungs of the ladder to success by which they ascended.

Linus (less than lion-hearted) - Uses their staff as a security blanket. Takes all suggestions and accepts credit for those that work. Others are the product of the "stupid staff."

The gyroscope - Has a stable rapid rate of rotation around a fixed axis with imperceptible forward motion. Progress is not the keyword, movement is.

Hermit crab - Lives in splendid isolation, gathering more and more ignorance of what is going on. Desk fills with urgent papers. Fails to lead, but becomes a repository of information.

Madison Avenue minions - Wins a popularity contest based on transparent superficialities. Avoids hard decisions and acts on those that will register high on the applause meter.

The anemometer - Checks the direction of wind and velocity of superiors before making up their mind. Always wondering what the boss is thinking regardless of rationale or integrity.

Attila the Hun - Leads through fear. Suffers from chronic indigestion or badly decayed molars. Any mental direction put into action is purely accidental. Apparently has no ears, only a mouth.

Mushroom grower - Fertilizes staff with superfluous words. Keeps employees in the dark, then cuts them off at the knees when they start to grow. Staff unable to assist because they don't know the problems.

Super ego - Believe they, above all others, were favored with the most brains when they were issued. Creates bottlenecks, and confuses and changes everything done by the staff. Lacks humility.

The true leader - Displays integrity and high moral values, courage, dedication (perseverance and determination), humility, common sense, a sense of humor, compassion, a strong sense of duty and enjoys working with others and seeing them develop. Assumes responsibility.

I still posses the original copy delivered to me 22 years ago. Periodically throughout my career, I read it to do a vector check. Am I flying straight and level with my leadership style or did I wander off course? At times, Butler's letter points out a habit or flaw to correct. Other times, it validates my words and actions.



tabComments
No comments yet.  
Add a comment

 Inside Maxwell AFB

ima cornerSearch

tabSocial Media Dashboard
Facebook

Facebook

Twitter

Twitter

YouTube

YouTube

tabTop StoriesRSS feed 
Innovating education: New commander of Air University challenges Airmen

Scholarships for Military Children; Applications for new season available Dec. 15

Fadok retires after more than three decades of service.

Air Force members get new app to solve their own computer problems

Lt. Gen. Kwast assumes command of Air University

15,000 reasons to celebrate Military Retiree Appreciation Day

Air Force ROTC cadets receive nuclear scholarships

Holm Center changes command

Maxwell, Gunter libraries scheduled to undergo transitions

American Indians have served this country's military well

  arrow More Stories

tabAETC NewsRSS feed 
Innovating education: New commander of Air University challenges Airmen

Forging professional Airmen is AETC's new directorate's goal

AETC unit called in on difficult recovery effort

Pillars of Resiliency: Holiday budgeting

JBSA candidate to host AFIMSC

Luke Thunderbolts celebrate wingman day

F-35 and F-22 combine capabilities in operational integration training mission


Site Map      Contact Us     Questions     USA.gov     Security and Privacy notice     E-publishing  
Suicide Prevention    SAPR   IG   EEO   Accessibility/Section 508   No FEAR Act