One of the greatest leaders of the 20th century is General Schwarzkopf. His leadership style is an intriguing subject matter, because he was able to accomplish something that has never been done in the history of military warfare.
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Schwarzkopf spearheaded a coalition of military forces composed of military personnel, and military equipment that came from different parts of the world. He was tasked to command an alliance comprised of generals and military officers from different parts of the globe.
It was a tremendous challenge to manage their egos, and to inspire them to give their best. He succeeded in persuading military leaders from different cultural backgrounds to work together. At the same time, he orchestrated a military campaign that resulted in few casualties.
In addition, he was able to accomplish major goals in a few months. He defeated Saddam Hussein in less than 4 months (Schwarzkopf, 1993).
If one will contrast his achievements to military generals that were faced with similar challenges in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, it is safe to say that General Schwarzkopf’s accomplishments are almost unequaled. Thus, I have decided to use his leadership style as a basis to improve my own.
I was able to develop a sketch of Schwarzkopf’s leadership style by gleaning insights from his autobiographical book. I decided to use the book because of personal anecdotes, and other important information regarding Schwarzkopf. In addition, the book is also a critical source of relevant information.
It was published a few years after Schwarzkopf’s successful management of Operation Dessert Storm. This historical event was a famous military operation that liberated Kuwait from invading Iraqi armed forces under the command of Saddam Hussein.
His leadership style is a combination of Dominance-Style and Interactive-Style of leadership. There was a trace of the dominance style of leadership when Schwarzkopf compelled his subordinates, and fellow military officers to accomplish a specific goal.
On the other hand, there was also a trace of the interactive style of leadership in his repertoire, because of his capability to work with others.
His leadership style was characterized by humility. He was willing to work with others. He was willing to make them feel part of the winning team. Thus, he did not take all the credit for the overwhelming success of Operation Desert Storm. His leadership style was also characterized by adaptability.
He was willing to adjust to the requirements of the mission. In other words, he was willing to work even if the circumstances surrounding him were far from perfect.
Finally, Schwarzkopf’s leadership style was defined by cultural sensitivity. He realized that he had to be sensitive to the cultural background of the leaders that he had to work with.
His complex leadership style was derived from adopting skills that were under the Dominance-Style and Interactive-Style of leadership. His effective leadership style was largely the byproduct of his upbringing and experiences. Schwarzkopf was born into a middle class family, and he lived in an affluent neighborhood.
However, Schwarzkopf was not a spoiled brat. When he was a young boy, he was affected by the impact of the Second World War on American families. As a result, his family was able to experience economic hardships. At the same time, Schwarzkopf’s mother was dealing with alcoholism.
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Life’s problems gave Schwarzkopf the ability to understand the frailty of human nature. As a result, the multi-awarded general was able to develop a profound sense of empathy that endeared him to his subordinates.
I am fascinated to learn more about Schwarzkopf’s leadership style. I believe that his experience and insights can help me improve my leadership capabilities. If I can learn how to be more interactive, and more adventurous as Schwarzkopf, then, I believe that I can become a better leader.
Before going any further it is important to point out that based on the Disk Self-Assessment, I have the Cautious-Style of leadership. I like this particular leadership style because it means that I am analytical, systematic, and persistent. It also means that I love solving problems. Those who belong to this category are task-oriented leaders.
I also scored high in the sub-category labeled as The Perfecter. In this particular category, leaders have the tendency to pay attention to process and details. Leaders under this category are thorough and dependable.
Although you can depend on me to accomplish goals and follow-up on issues that needs resolution in the shortest possible time, I struggle when it comes to in-depth involvement with people. It is important for me to learn how to be genuinely open to people that have a different opinion or a different approach on how to solve a specific problem.
I realized that my current capabilities are good enough to solve simple problems. However, when it comes to more complicated goals or objectives, it is imperative to develop the skill on how to work with other people. This is the reason why I greatly admire General Schwarzkopf.
He did not only work with people that have a different approach to completing a shared task. He worked with people that spoke a different language. He worked with people that may be offended by things that we find ordinary or inconsequential.
He did not only collaborated with them; he even inspired them to accomplish difficult tasks. I want to adopt certain aspects of his leadership style, especially the part that enables him to persuade people to set aside their differences in order to work as a team.
My strategy for improvement is to continually learn from leaders like General Schwarzkopf. I will look for leaders that were able to blend the Dominance-Style and Interactive-Style of leadership. I will study how to communicate with other people.
I will try to find out how to develop the skill to initiate a consensual and collaborative type of working process (Daft, 2014). I want to understand how to influence people through relationships, rather than through position power and authority.
I want to learn how to share ideas and maintain two-way communication (Lewis, 2007). I believe that this is the only way to empower people, and encourage them to develop their skills even more.
Daft, R. (2014). The leadership experience. CA: Cengage Learning.
Lewis, P. (2007). Management: Challenges for tomorrow’s leaders. OH: Thomson Higher Learning.
Schwarzkopf, N. (1993). It doesn’t take a hero: The autobiography of General Norman Schwarzkopf. New York: Bantam Books.