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West Point Cadets
West Point cadets and instructors

West Point Cadets

A group of 13 cadets and four instructors from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point take on the weekly 'On Leadership' questions. Who better to explore the gray areas of leadership than members of The Long Gray Line?

No finger pointing

Q: The grassroots 'tea party' movement suffered a set back this week when its candidates in Indiana lost in the Republican primaries. How can political leaders, or leaders in other fields, harness the power of insurgencies? What are the ground rules?

Leaders have many routes they can take to influence others, depending on the type of people they are hoping to reach. Dealing with insurgencies can be quite complex. A logical ground rule is for a leader to avoid pointing fingers, as this will escalate the conflict, and nothing will get accomplished.

If leaders show a true passion for satisfying people for the greatest good, hopefully the opposition can relate to it and begin to work toward a viable solution. Trust, however, must be earned before a leader can successfully harness an insurgency's power. -- Cadet Jonathan Bulls

A humble approach

Insurgencies are difficult to manage, and the wrong approach can easily strengthen rather than weaken the opposing power. The key to successfully harnessing an insurgency lies in recognizing and rectifying the injustices felt by the minority, while still striving toward the leader's larger goals for the united community. The ground rules are simple. A leader should take a humble approach; arrogance can only escalate conflict.

General McChrystal's approach in Afghanistan shows the benefits of humbleness in regulating discontented individuals or organizations. A leader must also take time to observe and understand the situation before taking action. Acting prematurely without proper understanding only worsens the problematic situation, making it more difficult to resolve in the long run. -- Cadet Lawrence Brown

Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.

By West Point Cadets

 |  May 6, 2010; 1:50 PM ET
Category:  Political leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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