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Col. Charles D. Allen
Military scholar

Col. Charles D. Allen

Colonel Charles D. Allen (U.S. Army, Ret.) is the Professor of Cultural Science in the Department of Command, Leadership, and Management at the U.S. Army War College.

Even Pickett's Charge

The question posed belies the reality that leaders can only lead those who choose to follow. As we have developed and evolved our leadership theories over the past century, the "Great Man" authoritarian leader has given way to the "transformational" and now "transcendental leader"--those who inspire and develop others, who communicate and set priorities, and who establish a climate and culture to attain goals that cannot be accomplished by individuals.

Our definition of Army leadership includes the process to provide purpose, motivation, and direction to accomplish the mission and to improve the organization. Leaders are responsible for achieving short- and long-term results and so must hold themselves and other accountable. Those who lead through fear are focused on short-term goals and do not build the capacity for success in the future. They do not engender the enduring support of followers or stakeholders.

As I visited the Gettysburg battlefield last week, there are a plethora of examples where soldiers of Blue and Gray engaged in that horrific struggle over three days. In the many accounts I have read about leaders like Lee, Longstreet, Meade, and Chamberlain, fear of the leader was not evident. After walking the ground of Pickett's Charge where the casualties (killed or wounded) ranged from 45 to 55 percent for Union and Confederate forces respectively, I was reminded of a quote of a colleague, "Men can be led to places they cannot be sent."

By Col. Charles D. Allen

 |  August 18, 2009; 11:50 AM ET
Category:  Leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: No Place for Intimidation | Next: The Political Disciplinarian


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The men in Pickett's Charge did so for General Lee, for BG Pickett, for 'the Cause' and for each other. However, don't think that the Southern Cause didn't use the other end of the motivation scale to get their soldiers to move forward into gunfire. Stonewall Jackson had his Provost Marshall's picking up any soldiers on the roads who decided to leave early. Although dead by Gettysburg Jackson was very hard-nosed about those that wouldn't fight. The well-documented "Home Guard" in each state also constantly searched for deserters, AWOL soldiers, etc. - often using whatever means they felt necessary to accomplish there goals. Positive motivation is a very powerful motivator for the vast majority of military personnel, but punishment is sometimes needed and is used for that small minority who let fear or their own self-interest get the better of them.
BTW - there is now good evidence that over 1,000 Confederate soldiers (out of 15,000) hid themselves at a sunken road during the advance. They collectively decided to hide. These soldiers were later captured by the Union forces.

Posted by: afghaniraqkuwaitkoreavet | August 27, 2009 2:26 PM
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I think Second Manassas is a better example.

Tactical Advantage goes to the Union in the retreat, the question is, was it fully exploited?
Notice the lack of Union counter at Gettysburg.

They also had a small advantage on day three,
I would have hit them at Weeks and the Tracks(drugs) and gone for Lee's Command.


Posted by: James210 | August 20, 2009 8:30 AM
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Obama is not being followed any longer by those who are also not interested in Congress,the Hill, this Cabinet,or our czars.

It seems the people are more interested in the tolls available left by the Constitution framers.

The petition to Redress for No Confidence in the the Federal Government of the United States of America by recall (every member named) of Congress, The Hill, The Cabinet, The Czars, and Obama, apparently have become the popular item to take to local County recordation offices and enter into the Library of Congress.

It gives the military sworn to defend and uphold the US Constitution,a resouce to see "the will of the people" doesn't it?

American people are an amazing melting pot of yankee doodle dandees, who stick a feather in their hats and call it macaroni, when taxation without representation of the posterity is afoot.

Posted by: dottydo | August 18, 2009 4:47 PM
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