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I Want To Be a Leader Like…

January 10, 2011

I have to admit, I have no real intereset in talking about what happened this weekend.  I’ll cop out by saying that there’s nothing really strategic, especially if you listen to the rhetoric coming from at least once side of the equation.  There, I’m done.  There are plenty of other places to go for discussion, and I hope you enjoy it.

There was another passing this weekend that bears mentioning, though.  Dick Winters, a Captain in the Army during the second world war and one of the inspirations for the Band of Brothers book and mini-series, died this weekend at his home.

People who knew Winters during and after the war said he is exactly what he appears to be. He could lead without ever raising his voice or swearing. His friend Bob Hoffman, a Lebanon architect, said Winters’ eyes could “burn a hole right through you.”

The men who served under him and people who only met him later in life call him a hero, no matter what he says.

According to the book, one wounded member of Easy Company wrote Winters from a hospital bed in 1945, “I would follow you into hell.”

Ambrose, the author of “Band of Brothers,” said in a 2001 BBC interview that he hopes young people say. “I want to be like Dick Winters.”

“Not necessarily as soldiers, but as that kind of leader, that kind of man, with basic honesty and virtue and an understanding of the difference between right and wrong,” Ambrose said.

I have to say, if someone feels like saying somthing about me after I die, stuff like this would be the second thing I’d think of.  Lynn and I use Mr. Winters often in our strategy classes to talk about the types of strategic leaders we admire and attempt to model.

According to various sources, the then Lt. Winters bonded with his men in basic training so much that the men rebelled when the company commander tried to remove Winters.  This ended up resulting in Winters becoming the commander of Easy Company.  The emotional bond formed with his men encouraged his men to follow him even through the trials of D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge.

It should also be noted that some of the tactics that Mr. Winters created have been taught at West Point.  This was not just an emotional leader; he was also a strong mind that innovated his field in ways that became standard strategy.  It’s that balance of intellect and emotion that many people find appealing.

I admire strong men who are humble about their impact on the world.  I raise my coffee mug to a great leader, and I want to be more like him someday.

Updated: Michelle Malkin makes some comments, and also has more details on his life.

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