is the only war college which specializes in aspects of national defense, such as mobilization and weapons acquisition, not directly involved in fighting a war. Mike was what anyone would call a natural leader, if there ever was one. He was loved and respected by all. There was no question that in lead- ing a unit of combat forces in his specialty, which was armor, his tank troops would follow him anywhere and he would do a superb job. In fact, several years later, as a full colonel, he led one of the leading brigades of tanks making the attack against Saddam Hussein in the first Gulf War. He performed in an outstanding manner. Unfortunately, Mike had a weakness. He simply could not expand his thinking out of the tactical level in which he was an acknowledged expert and maybe the best. I rather suspect that one of the reasons he was selected to attend ICAF rather than one of the other war colleges which was more focused on fighting was to try and expose him to other things and other people. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. One of the last things Mike said to me on our graduation from ICAF was, “I can’t wait to get back to where everyone thinks exactly like I do.” What a telling comment! Some years later, I talked with a retired four-star general who had once been Mike’s boss. In retirement, this senior general had been hired to run a short course for those newly promoted to general officer. He told me, “Mike was one of the finest soldiers I ever met. I kept waiting for the day that he would be promoted to brigadier general and be sent to take my course, but it never happened.” I once gave a talk on developing senior strategic leaders. I told the story of Mike and I said, “Mike, this one’s for you.” So is what follows, and I am sure that Peter would have echoed my sentiments. 78 A CLASS WITH DRUCKER
Drucker’s Approach to Becoming a Strategic Leader The program I came up with for developing strategic leaders is not com- plicated, but like many simple but important tasks, it is not necessarily easy, either. However, the good news is that you can implement this pro- gram on your own. There are only one main and two supporting elements. The main component I have already introduced to you. It is to follow Drucker’s exhortation to take the time to become an expert outside of your main profession. For my more cynical readers, I would suggest that the game of golf does not qualify. The two supporting elements will help you in many ways, not only in developing this second field of expertise, but also in broadening and sharpening your thinking. To become a strategic leader, you need to become proactive and take action starting now. The object is to start to think and act strategically, and to handle the increased complexity resulting from the necessity to integrate numerous elements that are, in some cases, far removed from your basic expertise and experience. This process, as Drucker taught, requires you to develop expertise outside of your current thinking. This is the main element.
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- Fall '17
- HUGO SANCHEZ
- Management, Peter F. Drucker