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, April 13, 2013

The Real Thing

Episode 40:  Henry In Love

Henry:     [on the phone to his wife]  Lorraine, honey?   Send me the cheque stubs.  I’ll straighten it out.  Goodbye darling.
Henry:      What do you guys want?
Trapper:    We just wanted to say good night, Henry.
Henry:     Remember I said I found a girl who was the real thing?  Well, she’s $68 overdrawn… Radar?  My wife was very grateful that I called her…makes me wish I had.
Radar:    Well, I figured since you didn’t have time to answer her letters…
Henry:      Goodnight Radar.  See you at breakfast.

Henry falls ‘puppy dog’ in love with a young woman in Tokyo and invites her back to the 4077 to meet the gang.  He discovers that she not only has eyes for him, but for everyone else in camp and realises that his relationship with his wife is the real thing.

The relationships that matter most in my life and that have the most impact are those that are characterised by authenticity and vulnerability.  This is as true for my professional life as for my personal life.  It is only when relationships are real, reflecting who we really are in every arena of life, that they withstand the challenges of leadership and make any real impact on those we lead.  Leadership author Bill George of “True North” affirms the value of an integrated life in our relationships: “To lead an integrated life, you need to bring together the major elements of your personal life and professional life, including work, family, community, and friends, so that you can be the same person in each environment.”  People intuitively know when we are real with them and not just using relationships as a means to an ends.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Equality v's Superiority

Episode 39:  Officers Only

Hawkeye:     Hey, Henry!  Bone-picking time…What about the 
            officers’ club?
Trapper:    Henry, the place is restricted.
Henry:       That’s not true.  Any officer, regardless of race, 
            colour or creed can go there and get bombed out of 
            his skull.
Hawkeye:    Come on Henry, it’s not fair.  All the enlisted  guys are very disgruntled.
Henry:    Look, I can’t be responsible for anybody’s “gruntlement.”  General Mitchell, out of the kindness of his gratitude, gave us this marvellous club…
Trapper:   That place is so un-us…Henry look, if we can get  enough officers to agree with us, will you throw the club open for everybody?
Henry:      Yeah, sure.  If you can swing it, fine. Ok?

General Mitchell visits the 4077 and rewards them with a new Officers’ Club in appreciation for their care of his son.  When the Officers’ Club creates dissention in the camp among the enlisted men who are excluded, Hawkeye and Trapper devise a plan to lift the restriction.

There is something embedded deep within the Australian psyche that rebels against inequality in society.  While we understand lines of authority in the work place we don’t like being treated unfairly and have little tolerance for leaders and managers who exist in ivory towers.  Whether this cultural value is fundamentally driven by a love of justice or a hatred of superiority is open for debate.  It is, however, reflective of a biblical value taught by Paul who addresses religious superiority in the church – “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).  Leaders who wield their power lightly, treat their followers fairly and engage in authentic relationships earn the trust and respect of those they seek to lead.