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Lt. Col. Todd Henshaw (Ret.)

Lt. Col. Todd Henshaw (Ret.)

Todd Henshaw, a professor at Columbia University, is Academic Director of Wharton Executive Education. Previously, he directed the leadership program at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Ten lost cadets

In response to this week's question: According to a new Harvard study, confidence in military leaders is high and rising. Why is this?

I think the American public understands the motives that cause people to seek leadership positions, and this assessment of motives must influence the level of trust and confidence in leaders. The question is, "Why do they lead?"

Many people reflect in conversation that they see business leaders, and especially Wall Street leaders, as people who lead mainly to garner material wealth and power. While we in America see these motivations as acceptable, many people say the intense drive for those things calls into question any moral or altruistic motivations that are a
necessary core of leadership. It's hard to be a selfless leader when you're so visibly and publicly taking rather than giving.

Leadership is about leaving it all on the field rather than taking it off the table. This is a core tenet of military leadership, and it's ingrained in the culture of each military service. During my time in the Army, I witnessed good and bad leaders, people who empowered or micromanaged, and leaders who had strategic vision or demonstrated an inability to think "out of the box." But one consistency across this very large population of military leaders was the notion of serving: service to others in their charge, service to the unit in which they served, and ultimately service to the nation through duty and sacrifice.

We should be very thankful as a nation that very gifted people (and their families) forgo material wealth and choose to serve in difficult places around the world. I can count close to 10 West Point cadets I've had as students who have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. They serve as a testament to the notion that military leaders make a decision early in life to serve, even if it might mean making the ultimate personal sacrifice.

By Lt. Col. Todd Henshaw (Ret.)

 |  November 2, 2009; 4:12 PM ET
Category:  Military Leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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"...What explains this high level of trust in military leadership?..."


America has the lowest standards for literacy and education in general in the Western World.


Posted by: lee8798 | November 3, 2009 3:08 PM
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@HTMN03 - Are you a witting or unwitting agent of the Roman Anti-Christ of which Thomas Jefferson warned true Americans (Amalek to true Jews); or, just a moron with an internet connection?

Posted by: iamerican | November 3, 2009 3:08 PM
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My father served, I served and my son now serves and we are all liberal democrats.

Posted by: jminette | November 3, 2009 2:55 PM
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@iamerican - I have to know, does the tinfoil hat itch at all? Do you wear it on top of another hat? After all of this time, doesn't it feel like your brain is cooking in your own sweat-drenched head?

Posted by: htmn03 | November 3, 2009 2:21 PM
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career military pretty boys in uniform love to brag about leadership, service and the "ultimate personal sacrifice."

delusional military bureaucrats live in denial.

like all world police parasites they are after power, prestige, money, and security.

vive le terror and effectively export more stupid social workers into the very very dangerous land of allah.

Posted by: therapy | November 3, 2009 1:54 PM
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"The best interest of the nation" is defined by obedience to the Creed: "Annuit Coeptis" means obedience to G-d.

When Truth and Justice are denied. G-d is not mocked but nations fail...and disappear.

Foregoing nooses at the Navy Yard for those known to have committed 9/11 as "Reichstag Fire Redux," and the assassination of Pat Tillman, is not "in the best interest of the nation" because it is an offense to G-d, the People, and to The Constitution we are sworn to uphold with our lives.

Why, does one wonder, have we been put to the brink of financial collapse? Is there neither rhyme nor reason?

Truth, like G-d, is knowable, and the curse causeless shall not come.

Read Jefferson's and Adam's "postroad correspondence" to put the hand of your mind into the wallsocket of G-d.

No need to reinvent the wheel, or to serve Babylon: there is but One G-d...with whom America's Founders made covenant, now blessing us again with the honest election of the anointed Barack Obama.

Death for Treason
Banishment for Misprision of Treason

Posted by: iamerican | November 3, 2009 11:57 AM
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Your spot on Col. We, who have been there and done that understand your premise about leaders and leadership. Unlike the majority of those on the outside, the chosen few who lead men and women in the field, at sea and in the air have no greater responsibility that to make sure the best interest of the nation is served. We have no other motives, its not about money, its not about comforts, it not about politics, its all about honor, courage and commitment.

Brokers, bankers, CEO's and politicians could only wish they had an ounce of the abilities of todays Uniformed Service leaders!

CDR/USN/RET and father of Navy LTjg and Marine Corps 2ndLT

Posted by: TippyCanoe | November 3, 2009 11:46 AM
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1. Since the world has been at war, a military leader is the right crunch in world of confusionism. The military leader is ready to guide, teach and create when their is severe destruction. The military leader bring things life.
2. On a serious note, if know the Crusades have been the reason of human existence. The Church is part of the overall civilian military command structure, then, their is no other leader, but a military leader. Word...

Antonio the Sun

Posted by: sterlinggo1 | November 3, 2009 11:10 AM
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Redskinreverend wrote: "Halifar59, Quatermass, and jdwagner's comments reflect the kind of cynicism that probably has them sitting in a cubilce leading nothing."

Ah, but you're wrong, and your comment reflects a total lack of experience with the real military command structure. There isn't a stronger culture of CYA on the planet. No, I'm not talking about the captains and lieutenants - some of them have the excellent leadership skills that (ex) Lt Col Henshaw wishes ALL officers would have. But it just isn't so. The Pentagon is chock-a-block with examples to the contrary.

Posted by: Quatermass | November 3, 2009 10:48 AM
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I grew up in the 1960s and the routine lies, misleading of the public, and defamation of anyone who dared to criticize as not being a "real American" (still goes on today) soured me on the military as an institution.

The military as an institution reminds me of the Catholic Church - while many individually brave and virtuous persons choose to make their careers there - as an institution they are both exclusionary, manipulative, untrustworthy and dedicated to protecting their own privileges and perogative above all else. Not necessarily conducive to a well functioning of a democratic society.

Posted by: hohandy1 | November 3, 2009 10:42 AM
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Pointing out the lies and treason of a draft-dodging closet-queen cheated into office by only the Roman Catholics of the unconstitutional 'Bush v. Gore' majority; whose father "can't recall" his whereabouts upon hearing of President Kennedy's assassination, six weeks after NSAM263 ordered our military withdrawal from Vietnam with only 120 dead in the futile effort to that point; and, whose grandfather was Hitler's banker, is "cynical?"

Enlightenment came to humanity through America's Founders' Creed and Constitution. There is but One G-d: those unwilling to serve Truth and Justice do not serve It.

The Tory Oak beckons once more.

Posted by: iamerican | November 3, 2009 10:20 AM
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Halifar59, Quatermass, and jdwagner's comments reflect the kind of cynicism that probably has them sitting in a cubilce leading nothing. Their comments are representative of the "taker" attitude Henshaw writes about in his article. Good stuff LTC Henshaw, thanks for inspiring us to serve beyond weaker motives and find strength in the service of others!

Posted by: RedskinsReverend | November 3, 2009 10:11 AM
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Hey Henshaw, care to comment on the "great" leadership of George W. Bush, who sent these poor young men and woman to die for this lies and ego?

Posted by: jdwagner | November 3, 2009 9:56 AM
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The military gives up their lives to protect America...
dems and liberals give up America to protect themselves...
thats the difference...

Posted by: DwightCollins | November 3, 2009 9:51 AM
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Thanks Lt. Col. Henshaw. You confirm my 28 years of Army service. Regardless of the personality of leaders and soldiers the committment to duty, to fellow soldiers and to the United States of America is always there.

Sergeant Major (Retired)

Posted by: HarrySarles | November 3, 2009 9:27 AM
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As a 1976 Air Force Academy graduate, and someone who has spent most of my career dealing with ALL services, I am puzzled by the gross naivete demonstrated by these remarks. "Service" is to one's career, not to some abstract notion of "country" for those in the upper ranks. True, you'll find the few true "servicemen", but get to O-6 and above, and I guarantee you'll find a track record of bootlicking, toadying, and self-promotion unequalled in the civilian world because that's the way the system is structured. You get to General rank by going along, not by bucking the system.

Posted by: Quatermass | November 3, 2009 9:24 AM
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Good "leaders" aren't stupid.

Military service is virtuous and patriotic insofar as it is righteous, and obedient to The Oath.

The three rounds in Pat Tillman's forehead were grouped within the circumference of a Fifty-cent piece: not "friendly fire." The commander of the unit making "the hit" has been greatly promoted as was the officer responsible for knowingly failing to destroy or guard the high explosives found "on the road to Baghdad" which were removed and fashioned into IED's used to kill thousands of Americans.

How many commissions were resigned after Bush and Cheney committed 9/11? (Viz. "The New Pearl Harbor," Griffin, Ph.D. http://files.meetup.com/275335/The%20New%20Pearl%20Harbor.pdf)

How many sworn to The Oath won't bother reading the above sedulous proof of a pair of draft-dodgers' treason performed in service to the same faction which killed President Kennedy to send us to die for the pope in Vietnam?

"Nothing stops the long green," Right?

Our military is a false elite led by witting agents of the Roman Anti-Christ, well ensconced at West Point.

Is it yet only the Roman Catholic girls schools bussing their charges to Cullum Hall for dances and marriages to, on margin, continue defeating whig America and the Founders' Oath?

Is it "Honor" to omit this comment? Proof's in the pudding. G-d's watching.

Quo Vadis, America?

Jeffersonian Exegesis http://theamericanfundament.blogspot.com

Posted by: iamerican | November 3, 2009 8:52 AM
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A huge part of our life in the military was being able to work with and associate with similarly motivated and what we consider "good folks". That continued after we retired and we continue to serve in voluntary fashion in the community. You don't find much of that in the civilian "money-first" environment.

Another retired brown shoe Colonel

Posted by: GordonShumway | November 3, 2009 8:05 AM
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Whatever. No need to question exactly who it is military leaders serve, what the inhabitants of the planet truly gain from their service, nor the violence inherent in their so-called duty. How many military officers go on to land lucrative contracts with weapon manufacturers once their "service" has ended? Most, no doubt. Just a continuation of their selfless service? Give it a break, and look closer.

Posted by: halifar59 | November 3, 2009 7:27 AM
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The notion to serve and sacrifice comes at quite an early age as well. There are now youngsters serving in those places that were 12 and 13 year old cadets when this all started. Their cadet careers tend to boost them into leadership positions fairly quickly. There will be more moving up to serve from Sea Cadet ranks before this ends. That is a thought to ponder.

There are 13 known former cadets lost so far.

Posted by: vinsnash | November 3, 2009 7:09 AM
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Leadership.. embodies the phrase"duty, honor-country" and is the fabric of the foundation and commitment to the people under his/her charge.

This is especially true at the NCO and junior officer ranks. However, senior level commanders and general officers begin to realize the "political" or career ramifications of their decisions. Sometimes those decisions or actions are contrary to the command structure..but, because of career-political issues, ground truth logic and reason is sometimes lost.

Case in point: The fabrication and false information post Pat Tillman's death in Khost Province, Afghanistan. How did a Silver Star award move up the chain to General Mc with most knowing full well, the award was not merited and the facts supporting the award were false!

But, overall the military (in my case, the US Army) is blessed with many fine people gifted with the knowledge, experience and background who dedicated themselves to selfless service.


Posted by: LTC-11A | November 3, 2009 4:07 AM
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Well put. Duty * Honor * Country are not just words.

Another retired LTC

Posted by: RobsonJV | November 2, 2009 10:30 PM
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I agree 100% with Lt.Col.Henshaw. The great America leadership comes in high degree , from the big contribution of its armed forces. The military doctrine is, since ancient times, the mother of the modern management. I have an old discution in which I say, Military leaders "speak" something I call MBS of course adapted for military operations and scientific developments.(see MBSvsMBA in www.fivestarmanger.com). No rational leader must despise the great leadership comming from the Military

Posted by: lgjaramillo | November 2, 2009 7:37 PM
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