Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Eagle vs The Wolf: Leader and Character Development for Complex Environments

This post continues the Twitter based professional conversation between military leaders in the United States and faculty and students at Kings College in London. If you’re interested in participating just “tweet” your response with #CCLKOW

The Army Operating Concept (AOC) explains leader development and human performance optimization under section C2 as“Advancements in decision sciences will allow faster, better-informed decisions in an increasingly complex environment. These advances must focus to produce young leaders with the experience, maturity, and judgment previously expected of a more senior and experienced leader.”

But how do we develop character in leaders? Or is it up to leaders to develop their own character? Everyday young leaders make decisions that show the quality of their character. The 31st Commandant of the Marine Corps , GEN Charles Krulak said “Success in combat–and in life–has always demanded a depth of character. Those who can reach deep within themselves and draw upon an inner strength, fortified by strong values, always carry the day against those of lesser character.”

Consider the poem The Eagle and the Wolf by Eddie D. Wilcoxen

There is a mighty battle
– it rages deep within.
the winner is as yet unknown – will it be good or sin?
On one side is an eagle knight, with vision long and soaring flight,
his talons sharp and judgment bright, a winged warrior for the right!

All actions made in honor, all notions straight and true,
lend wind beneath these mighty wings and lift me with the few.
For paths of rightness never need
to fear the
surging crowd.

It's cold and lonely, yet bright and
clear, where the angels sing aloud!
It's there my eagle flies alone,
with cares and trials below.
From valleys deep he soars alof
t to mountains capped with snow.
The other warrior in this fray is
dark and fright to see.

A wolf in visage - raging wild
- the worst inside of me!
He feasts upon my failures and gorges with the pack -
his allies in this darksome meal - they feed upon my lack.
When kindness fails, and wisdom fa
lls, and love forgotten lies,
these snarling demons leap to pul
l the flesh from hope that dies!
Wolf led, this cold-eyed pack stalks my weakness and my need,
their numbers strong with names to fear: sloth, hate, jealousy,
and greed.

There is an epic battle,
its outcome still unknown.
Wolf or eagle - who will win?
Which one will reign alone?
Within me lies the answer, the answer that I need.
I know the one to claim my soul will be the one I feed! 

For discussion:

How do we develop our subordinates to feed the eagle and not the wolf?

How does a complex, dynamic, ambiguous environment impact a leader’s ability to influence
his/her Soldier’s actions?

“Tweet” your response with #CCLKOW


The Quadshot Warrior blog is hosted by Jonathan Silk, who is a Major in the U.S. Army. He has served as a Cavalry Scout platoon leader , and has commanded both a Tank Company and an Infantry Company. He is currently an Academic Instructor and serving as the Operations Officer for the Center for the Advancement of Leader Development and Organizational Learning (CALDOL) at the United States Army Military Academy, West Point, NY. He was a recipient of the calendar year 2009 General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award. The views expressed in this blog are not representative of US Army or DOD.

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