My all time favourite TV series is M*A*S*H, a comedy/drama centred around the doctors and nurses of the 4077th M*A*S*H unit during the Korean War. The series was so popular that it outlasted the duration of the 3 year war, spanning 11 seasons and 251 episodes.

The strong characterisation and story lines presented thought provoking themes that provide an ideal platform for lessons on life and leadership. Whether you are a fan of the show or not, I'm sure you will connect with my leadership insights from M*A*S*H.

LEADING FROM THE TRENCHES features bite-sized, candid insights that speak into the gritty space of leadership through the eyes of a fellow leader seeking to "lead with all diligence" (Romans 12:8).

Friday, November 30, 2012

Unity In Adversity

Episode 25:  Divided We Stand

General:    You had a mission here, Captain.
Hildebrand: I’ve done it.  I can give you your report.  In my short stay here, I have seen textbook examples of neuroses, psychoses.  I have seen voyeurism, fetishism and a few “isms” I’ve never even heard of.  And let me tell you this, General:  these impossible people are in an impossible place doing totally impossible work.  They’re mad, quite mad, all of them, and the only act I can think of that would be madder still would be breaking them up.

General Clayton sends a psychiatrist on a secret mission to the 4077 to assess whether the stress of war is having an adverse effect.  Concerned by the possibility of the unit being broken up, Colonel Blake tries to get the troops to be on their best behaviour.

There have been seasons of leadership when I have most valued having a team who have shared the burden that comes with leading through difficult circumstances.  As I reflect upon these times of adversity when we have faced seemingly impossible challenges, it was the unity of the team that enabled us to overcome such adversity.  When teams are united in adversity, there is clarity of purpose when the way seems unclear.  When teams are united in adversity, there is cohesion between leaders when others are divided.  When teams are united in adversity, there is confidence in shared wisdom and experience instead of insecurity.  Staying united during times of adversity reveals an unshakeable resilience that makes the impossible seem possible, empowering leaders to overcome their circumstances instead of being overwhelmed by them.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Who Deserves The Credit?

Episode 24:  Showtime

Father:   For some time now, I’ve been comparing the disparity of our callings.  Doctor versus priest.  You fellows are always able to see the end result of your work.  I mean, you know immediately if you’ve been successful.  For me, the results are far less tangible.  Sometimes – most of the time – I honestly don’t know whether I’m doing any good or not.
Hawkeye:   I used to have a professor in med school who always said:  “God cures the patients but the doctor takes the fee.”
Father:    Do you think that’s true?
Hawkeye:   I’m able to do a lot of things in surgery that I’m not really good enough to do.

During the visit of a troupe to entertain the 4077, we gain insight into a number of significant moments in the lives of the key personnel, including a moment of vulnerability where the camp priest is questioning the effectiveness of his work.

Despite my training and experience as a leader I am acutely aware that there are many things I am called upon to do that I am not really capable of doing alone.  By myself, I bring a limited set of skills and knowledge to my leadership roles, but together with a team there is a collaboration of shared wisdom that increases my leadership capacity.  As a Christian leader the capacity of the team is also given a spiritual dimension through divine wisdom and strength.  It is, therefore, true to say that any success I experience as a leader is never mine alone.  In this context of leadership there is no place for ego driven leaders who hog the credit for themselves.  Quoting Dino Rizzo, Craig Groeschel emphasizes this point by stating, “It is amazing what gets accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit.”  In saying that from a team point of view, God always deserves the credit for empowering us to be the leaders He has called and equipped us to be.

Friday, November 16, 2012


Episode 23:  Cease Fire

Trapper:  You should have listened to me, pal.
Hawkeye: If the same thing happened all over again, I’d still  
         make the same bet.
Trapper On the level?
Hawkeye: It was a glimpse of daylight at the end of the tunnel, 
         it was worth it.
Trapper:  You paid a pretty heavy price.
Hawkeye: So I blew 1500 bucks in IOU’s…Gave up three nurses for 
         an imaginary wife and family.  Clayton’s got my butt in 
         his gun sight.  My hopefulness remains intact.

The 4077 hears a rumour of a ceasefire, prompting premature celebrations and plans for going home.  Trapper doubts the rumour, while Hawkeye gets a little carried away leaving him in trouble with some nurses and General Clayton when they find out the rumour was false.

Leadership without hope is to abandon a vision for a preferred future and capitulate to the present reality.  Hope dares to believe for what could be, even when what is seems overwhelming.  Hope sees the possibilities, not the barriers.  Hope gives leaders the faith to lead in the tension between the now and not yet now. Pastor and author Erwin McManus says, “A life of expectation is the result of living in the dynamic tension that exists between faith and hope.”  It is this dynamic tension that makes the present reality untenable and drives a leader to step out in faith to pursue even greater things.  In this pursuit, a leaders hopefulness remains intact when their faith exceeds their circumstances.