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 poplular 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 the 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).

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction



Episode 48:  A Smattering Of Intelligence

Frank:         Arrest me? What for?
Col. Flagg:    You’re a Communist!
Capt. Stone:   He’s a Fascist!
Frank:         I’m not either!  I’m nothing.
Col. Flagg:    I’ve got a list of 17 left-wing organisations and 
               charities you’ve contributed to.
Frank:         I never!  It’s a lie.  They’re all lies!
Capt. Stone:   Well, somebody’s lying.
Trapper:       That’s right, and we know who it is.
Hawkeye:      It’s us.  You two were so intent on finding some 
              breach of security, some leak.  You don’t need the    
              real thing.  You guys are self-leaking.

A mail call from home causes Henry to be up to his neck balancing his wife’s cheque book, Klinger to invent another family heartache story in want of a discharge, Frank to be obsessed about his stock portfolio and Trapper to get drunk and attempt desertion because he can’t see his daughters.

I’m often intrigued by conspiracy theories and urban legends and can understand how the line between truth and fiction becomes blurred with the ease and speed in which stories spread over the internet, especially through social networking sites.  When the saying, “Don’t let truth get in the way of a good story” normalizes the way truth is handled, personal and corporate reputations fall victim to our obsession with rumours and scandals.  There is sound wisdom to be found from one of the most successful leaders of Israel who warns, “keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies” (Psalm 34:13), which should serve as a guidepost when sifting through the fragments of truth in any story.   

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

No Discharge In This War



Episode 47:  Mail Call

Hawkeye:  Was it something I said?
Trapper:  I’m gonna grab a jeep, drive to Seoul and catch the first 
          plane home.
Hawkeye:  Right after they shoot you for desertion and book you for 
          drunk driving.
Trapper:  I gotta see my daughters... 
Hawkeye:  Trap, leaving a war in the middle is very upsetting to 
          those who invited us.
Trapper:  Hey, listen.  I don’t like a movie, I get up and leave. 
          I don’t like the war.  I’m going.
Hawkeye:  Oh, come on Trap, you gotta stick around to see how it 
          ends.
Trapper:  Oh, but it doesn’t end. It’s continuous. When it finishes 
          here, they take it on the road. I can catch it anytime anyplace.

A mail call from home causes Henry to be up to his neck balancing his wife’s check book, Klinger to invent another family heartache story in want of a discharge, Frank to be obsessed about his stock portfolio and Trapper to get drunk and attempt desertion because he can’t see his daughters.

Leading from deep within the trenches of business, politics, community services or church based mission can leave one feeling overwhelmed by the pressures and demands of leadership on the frontline.  When engulfed by what seems to be a raging battle at times, the ‘fight or flight’ responses of human beings are manifested.  Some leaders have the resilience to stand firm and the resources to fight through the conflict, while others choose to resign and retreat from the battle.  While these are quite normal and maybe even appropriate responses to our environment, the mark of an effective leader is to confront the challenges of frontline leadership with a resolve to stay the course and complete the mission!  In his one volume history of The Salvation Army, No Discharge In This War, General Frederick Coutts writes, “The only truthful conclusion is that there is no conclusion. There is no discharge in this war. One generation of the Salvationists may succeed another, but the work of the Army does not cease because human need does not cease.”  Whatever your frontline, there is no discharge in this war until the mission is complete.