Wake Up, Philippines!

Leader’s Way: Doing what’s right earns you the right

Posted in Leadership by Erineus on February 11, 2009

WHEN US Army Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf was a colonel stationed in Vietnam, he commanded the 1st Battalion of the 6th Infantry, a unit previously known as the “worst of the sixth” but which he turned around with strong leadership.

After he improved the battalion, it was reassigned to a place Schwarzkopf described as “a horrible, malignant place” called the Batangan Peninsula. It was an area that had been fought over for 30 years, was covered with mines and booby traps, and was the site of numerous weekly casualties.

Schwarzkopf made the best of bad situation. He introduced procedures to greatly reduce casualties, and whenever a soldier was injured by a mine, he flew out to check on the man, evacuated him using his personal chopper, and talked to the other men to boost their morale.

On May 28, 1970, a man was injured by a mine, and Schwarzkopf flew to where he lay. While his helicopter was evacuating the soldier, another man stepped on a mine, severely injuring his leg. The man thrashed around on the ground, screaming and wailing. That’s when everyone realized the first mine hadn’t been a lone booby trap. They were in fact standing in the middle of a minefield.

Schwarzkopf believed the injured man could survive, and even keep his leg—but only if he stopped flailing around. There was only one thing Shwarzkopf could do. He had to go after the man and immobilize him.

In his autobiography, “It Doesn’t Take a Hero,” Schwarzkopf wrote: I started through the minefield, one slow step at a time, staring at the ground, looking for telltale bumps or little prongs sticking up from the dirt. My knees were shaking so hard that each time I took a step, I had to grab my leg and steady it with both hands before I could take another … It seemed like a thousand years before I reached the kid.

The 240-pound Schwarzkopf, who had been a wrestler at West Point, then pinned the wounded man and calmed him down. It saved the man’s life. And eventually with the help of an engineer team, Schwarzkopf was able to get him and the others out of the minefield.

Later that night when Schwarzkopf was at the hospital, three black soldiers stopped in a hallway and said, “Colonel, we saw what you did for the brother out there. We’ll never forget that, and we’ll make sure that all the other brothers in the battalion know what you did.”

Until that moment, it hadn’t occurred to him that the soldier he had saved was black.

The Army had given Schwarzkopf the power to lead. And his knowledge and skill had given him the ability to lead. But his demonstrated character and courage under the most difficult of circumstances had earned him the right to lead.

(Attend John Maxwell’s “Developing The Leader Within You Workshop” on Jan. 27-28, 2009 at the Edsa Shangri-la Hotel which will be facilitated by Maxwell-certified trainer Francis Kong. Call Inspire Leadership Consultancy at 687-2614 or 0917-8511115. You can also e-mail us at alex@inspirephilippines.com. Visit our website at http://www.inspirephilippines.com to know more about our other workshops

By John C. Maxwell
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:14:00 01/03/2009

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