Exploring Leadership in the News with Steven Pearlstein and Raju Narisetti
Any Point to West Point?
Tom Ricks, the Washington Post's special military correspondent, wrote a controversial article in Sunday's Post proposing that the three military academies -- West Point, Annapolis and the Air Force Academy -- be closed. Ricks' suggestion raises the age-old question: Can leadership really be taught?
Posted by Ben Bradlee and Steve Pearlstein on April 20, 2009 10:49 AM
Personal leadership skills, such as active listening, standing up for oneself and others, influencing behaviors, etc. can -- and should -- be taught from grade school on. We need to support initiatives for more public service, civilian leadership schools.
Posted by Prudence Bushnell, on April 24, 2009 11:42 AM
There is a growing recognition in all sectors of society that we need to prepare a new generation for leadership in their communities, from local to global, by inspiring them to assume leadership. Leadership education can and should take root much earlier than young adulthood.
Posted by Kathy Kretman, on April 23, 2009 1:26 PM
Aristotle said that the goal of the liberal arts is to educate people on how to make choices in a free society. He did not advocate leadership "training," which, if you think about it, is really an oxymoron.
Posted by Joanne B. Ciulla, on April 22, 2009 1:31 PM
Great leaders drive themselves to learn how to improve their skills at leading, their most important decisions are determined by their values and character, and they are often the result of good mentoring from senior officers.
Posted by Gen. Monty Meigs (Ret.), on April 22, 2009 9:43 AM
Leadership has been taught and learned through the ages. An early leadership coach was Moses's father-in-law, Jethro, who told him Moses was wearing himself out trying to solve everyone's problems and that he should learn to delegate.
Posted by Michael Maccoby, on April 21, 2009 7:12 AM
The greatest leadership learning I've witnessed is when people learn in a whole-person way -- intellectually, emotionally, and somatically. This happens best when they are immersed in a supportive, like-minded community.
Posted by Gail S. Williams, on April 21, 2009 7:06 AM
Total immersion in the culture of the service academies produces men and women willing to put mission above self, country before comfort. Its graduates still lead from the front and are paying a high price in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Posted by Walter F. Ulmer, Jr., on April 21, 2009 7:01 AM
Tom Ricks rightly calls for diversity of military officers. But one size does not fit all. While ROTC and Officer Candidate School may appeal to some, others will always want the complete challenge of a West Point-like experience.
Academic programs may not consistently produce good leaders, but organizations that study, argue about, and struggle with leadership development are inherently better organizations than those that do not.
The willingness to perform what Emile Durkheim called "altruistic suicide" -- giving your life for the group -- requires that individuals be immersed in a separate culture. The service academies may provide an essential venue for training leaders willing to make the ultimate sacrifice.
Posted by Elizabeth Sherman, on April 20, 2009 3:14 PM
As Gen. Colin Powell has said, West Point is "the place where the professional standards are set, the place that defines the military culture, the place that nurtures the values and virtues of Army service and passes them on from generation to generation." It should not be closed.
Posted by Col. Michael E. Haith (Ret.), on April 20, 2009 2:30 PM