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, October 21, 2016

Paralysed By Failure

Episode 61:  Mad Dogs And Servicemen

Frank:     That man is a psycho and for some perverted reason these two want to play games with him.
Hawkeye:    We are just following Sid Freedman’s advice.
Trapper:    You get a soldier who has hysterical paralysis and you treat him as though he is really paralysed and he’ll become sick just to rationalise the guilt of leaving his buddies at the front.
Hawkeye:    Sid feels if you take a patient like that back to a nice clean hospital it just deepens the guilt.  You send him home and it sets it in concrete. 
Trapper:    Yeah, he has been treating his patients as close to the front as possible with the idea that they will return to their unit.
Hawkeye:    Otherwise, they get sent stateside and one moment’s failure on the battlefield becomes a lifetime disability.

A GI is brought in by ambulance suffering from hysterical paralysis. Hawkeye attempts to treat him with a new method being used by Psychiatrist Sidney Freedman, against the protests of Frank Burns and Margaret Houlihan who question his condition.

I am sure most of us understand what it means ‘to be paralysed by fear’; to be so terrified of something, real or perceived, that you are unable to move.  Imagine being paralysed by failure; to be crippled by your mistakes to the point where you can no longer function.  This is a critical condition for any leader because failure comes with the territory! Identifying “failure as an indispensable, irreplaceable part of learning and growth,” John Ortberg stresses “failure does not shape you; the way you respond to failure shapes you.”  So, you can choose to allow failure to paralyse you or propel you towards new discoveries.  Don’t allow a moment of failure become a lifetime of disability.  

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Loyal To A Fault

Episode 60:  A Full Rich Day

Hawkeye:   Smithy, I’m going to have to go serious on you about this thing.  We have a different perspective on the war as a whole than I think is possible for you.  To a line officer with 30-40 guys lives depending upon him, and your life depending upon them; the war is not some big geo-political conflict between nations and ideologies.  It’s not just China and America sticking their tongues out at each other.  To you there’s maybe 30-40 guys in that high grass out there trying to kill me and my 30-40 guys.  It’s that concentrated.  To you that’s the entire war…But it’s something else in our little heaven.  To us the war is trying very hard to control chaos.  We are up to our bottoms in other people’s bottoms here.  We can’t afford the same kind of fierce personal loyalties that you and Sergeant Brian feel for each other.  Can you understand that?...It’s the size of the wound, who’s bleeding the most buckets who we give priority to.  It’s the only place I know that being the worst is the best.

Hawkeye records a message to his dad about the events of a very eventful day.  Among the variety of casualties presenting to the 4077th is an infantry soldier who demands the doctors treat his friend first by threatening them at gunpoint.

While loyalty to a leader or a team is a highly valued virtue in any organisation, there are times when blind loyalty can distort our view of reality and become a liability.  I’ve worked in teams where loyalty to long standing relationships has compromised right decisions or covered-up wrong behaviour.  In both cases truth and integrity became casualties of blind loyalty.  In contrast, John Maxwell says “loyalty means giving me an honest opinion, whether you think I’ll like it or not.”  From this position loyalty becomes more about faithfulness than friendship and the priority of leadership stays focused on the grander vision rather than allowing personal agendas making us vulnerable to being loyal to a fault.