Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I was thinking today, especially on Veterans' Day, that it's important to recognize people who sacrifice a lot to make things better in the world. Maybe it's my euphoria after Barack Obama's win one week ago. I burst into tears when I heard his win announced at 11 p.m. last Tuesday. I feel really proud right now. My vote counted! I feel hopeful again about the country.

Today I am thinking of Richard Winters, who was prominently featured in Stephen Ambrose's book Band of Brothers. Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks would adapt it later into the terrific HBO program by the same name. Winters is someone I admire greatly. He also wrote a book, and I have photocopied this passage and have it behind my desk as a reminder.

Leadership at the Point of the Bayonet
Ten Principles for Success
Major Dick Winters
Easy Company, 506th PIR, 101st Airborne Div.
“The Band of Brothers”

1. Strive to be a leader of character, competence, and courage.

2. Lead from the front. Say, “Follow me!” and then lead the way.

3. Stay in top physical shape—physical stamina is the root of mental toughness.

4. Develop your team. If you know your people, are fair in setting realistic goals and expectations, and lead by example, you will develop teamwork.

5. Delegate responsibility to your subordinates and let them do their jobs. You can’t do a good job if you don’t have a chance to use your imagination and creativity.

6. Anticipate problems and prepare to overcome obstacles. Don’t wait until you get to the top of the ridge and then make up your mind.

7. Remain humble. Don’t worry about who receives the credit. Never let power or authority go to your head.

8. Take a moment of self-reflection. Look at yourself in the mirror every night and ask yourself if you did your best.

9. True satisfaction comes from getting the job done. They key to a successful leader is to earn respect—not because of rank or position, but because you are a leader of character.

10. Hang Tough!—Never, ever, give up.

From Beyond Band of Brothers, The War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters, by Dick Winters and Col. Cole C. Kingseed. New York: Berkley Publishing Group, 2006. page 293.

Maybe this seems a little hokey to you, that little old me would be inspired by a WWII Army Major, but I find inspiration in all sorts of places.

No comments: