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).

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Fire Draws Fire

Episode 26:  5 O’Clock Charlie

Frank:    It ill behoves us to show such a frivolous and 
          flippant attitude in front of our Korean allies.
Hawkeye:  Come on, Frank, don’t you understand?  Fire draws  
          fire. You shoot that thing and the next day we’ll have
          real planes, MiGs, throwing bombs at our wounded. Maybe 
          you haven’t noticed in the operating room, but we have 
Trapper:  The combination of malpractice and flop sweat makes 
          it hard for him to see.
Frank:    I know what my duty is and I intend to do it.

A wayward North Korean pilot on his daily attempt to blow up the ammo dump near the 4077 becomes an attraction for the camp.  Frank appeals to the General for an anti aircraft gun to deal with the problem, evoking concern by Hawkeye and Trapper for the safety of the wounded.

One of the tensions for leaders experiencing opposition, whether from competitors or colleagues, is to know when to react and when to hold back.  Sometimes to react draws unnecessary attention to the problem, which is like throwing fuel on a fire.  Other times a delayed response allows the problem to grow out of proportion, when an immediate response would have extinguished the fire.  I have erred on both sides of the equation where a misjudged response has created more problems than it has solved.  John Maxwell talks about the importance of timing and motive in reading and responding to leadership situations, “Successful leaders make the right move at the right moment with the right motive.”  This wisdom provides a helpful framework to ask three critical questions when discerning the best response:  Is this the right move?  Is this the right moment?  What is my motive?  I am sure these three questions could have helped avoid drawing unnecessary fire on those occasions when I have made the wrong call.

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