winston churchill

On The Guns of August

I recently finished reading The Guns of August, the Pulitzer Prize-Winning Classic about the Outbreak of World War I, by Barbara W. Tuchman.

Below are key excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:

Wilson, facing this group of “ignorant men,” as he called them, and accompanied by his fellow officer and future chief, Sir John French, “who knows nothing at all about the subject,” pinned up his great map of Belgium on the wall and lectured for two hours. He swept away many illusions when he explained how Germany, counting on Russia’s slow mobilization, would send the bulk of her forces against the French, achieving superiority of numbers over them. He correctly predicated the German plan of attack upon a right-wing envelopment but, schooled in the French theories, estimated the force that would come down west of the Meuse at no more than four divisions. He stated that, if all six British divisions were sent immediately upon the outbreak of war to the extreme left of the French line, the chances of stopping the Germans would be favorable.

Coming from Haldane this conclusion had a profound effect upon Liberal thinking and planning. The first result was a naval pact with France by which the British undertook at threat of war to safeguard the Channel and French coasts from enemy attack, leaving the French fleet free to concentrate in the Mediterranean. As this disposed the French fleet where it would not otherwise be, except by virtue of the agreement, it left a distinct obligation upon Britain…This curious document managed to satisfy everybody: the French because the whole British Cabinet Government had now officially acknowledged the existence of the joint plans, the antiwar group because it said England was not “committed,” and Grey because he had evolved a England was not “committed,” and Grey because he had evolved a formula that both saved the plans and quieted their opponents. To have substituted a definite alliance with France, as he was urged in some quarters, would “break up the Cabinet,” he said.

War pressed against every frontier. Suddenly dismayed, governments Struggled and twisted to fend it off. It was no use. Agents at frontiers were reporting every cavalry patrol as a deployment to beat the mobilization gun. General staffs, goaded by their relentless timetables, were pounding the table for the signal to move lest their opponents gain an hour’s head start. Appalled upon the brink, the chiefs of state who would be ultimately responsible for their country’s fate attempted to back away but the pull of military schedules dragged them forward.

How far reduced, how distant the end, no one yet knew. No one could realize that for numbers engaged and for rate and number of losses suffered over a comparable period of combat, the greatest battle of the war had already been fought. No one could yet foresee its consequences: how the ultimate occupation of all Belgium and northern France would put the Germans in possession of the industrial power of both countries, of the manufactures of Liege, the coal of the Borinage, the iron ore of Lorraine, the factories of Lille, the rivers and railroads and agriculture, and how this occupation, feeding German ambition and fastening upon France the fixed resolve to fight to the last drop of recovery and reparation, would block all later attempts at compromise peace or “peace without victory” and would prolong the war for four more years.

At the time of the disaster General Marquis de Laguiche, the French military attache came to express his condolences to the Commander • in Chief. ‘We are happy to have made such sacrifices for our Allies,” the Grand Duke replied gallantly. Equanimity in the face of catastrophe was his code, and Russians, in the knowledge of inexhaustible supplies of manpower, are accustomed to accepting gigantic fatalities with comparative calm. The Russian steam roller in which the Western Allies placed such hopes, which after their debacle on the Western Front was awaited even more anxiously, had fallen apart on the road as if it had been put together with pins. In its premature start and early demise it had been. Just as the Grand Duke said, a sacrifice for an ally. Whatever it cost the Russians, the sacrifice accomplished what the French wanted: withdrawal of German strength from the Western Front. The two corps that came too late for Tannenberg were to be absent from the Mame.

But Francois faced battle, whereas Kluck, thinking he faced only pursuit and mopping up, ignored the precaution. He believed the French incapable, after ten days of retreat, of the morale and energy required to turn around at the sound of the bugle and fight again. Nor was he worried about his flank. “The General fears nothing from the direction of Paris,” recorded an officer on September 4. “After we have destroyed the remains of the Franco-British Army he will return to Paris and give the IVth Reserve the honor of leading the entry into the French capital.”

In conclusion:

After the Marne the war grew and spread until it drew in the nations of both hemispheres and entangled them in a pattern of world conflict no peace treaty could dissolve. The Battle of the Mame was one of the decisive battles of the world not because it determined that Germany would ultimately lose or the Allies ultimately win the war but because it determined that the war would go on. There was no looking back, Joffre told the soldiers on the eve. Afterward there was no turning back. The nations were caught in a trap, a trap made during the first thirty days out of battles that failed to be decisive, a trap from which there was, and has been, no exit.

A recommended read in the areas of history and military conflicts.

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On Launching A Leadership Revolution

I recently finished reading Launching A Leadership Revolution – Mastering The Five Levels of Influence – by Chris Brady and Orrin Woodward.

Below are key excerpts that I found particularly insightful:

1- “Leadership ability is a lot like the drilling equipment used by Yates and his partners to discover the richness of oil that already existed beneath him. Each of us; has a natural wellspring of talent and ability buried within. The drill of leadership is required to tap into the geyser of our potential. As with Yates’s drilling equipment, leadership ability will take effort to attain, but the rewards are incalculable.”

2- “We wrote this book because our work with tens of thousands of entrepreneurs across North America for more than a decade has convinced us that most people (and their organizations) have much more potential locked away inside of them than they realize. Leadership is the key that opens the lock on that potential. Time and again we have seen people come alive and achieve things they never thought possible, once they started learning to take responsibility for leadership. The results, quite frankly, have been revolutionary.”

3- “Leadership is the influence of others in a productive, vision-driven direction and is done through the example, conviction, and character of the leader.”

4- “While people may exhibit differing natural levels of leadership, everybody can cultivate and grow his or her leadership ability. Besides, ability differs from one endeavor to the next, so that a person may have weak influence in one area but be strong in another. Everybody can be a leader at something. and usually people s strengths lie in areas that interest them greatly.”

5- “The three characteristics of “raw material” for a leader are: 1. Hungry 2. Hone-able 3. Honorable. These are the foundational qualities of a leader, the Three Hs that must be possessed by the leader-to-be as a prerequisite to further advancement.”

6- “Hunger itself is one of the biggest facets of leadership. Hunger provides the energy to begin, the stamina to persist, and the will to finish an endeavor. It is this hunger or ambition that births leadership.”

7- “All of leadership starts with hunger. At any point in time when the leader is not hungry, the leader is not functioning as a leader. This may sound radical, but it is true. Remember, a leader takes people somewhere. The moment the leader is not moving, the leader is not leading. And it takes ambition to keep the leader moving…Along each side of the road are shoulders. Often the shoulders of roads are comprised of gravel…On the left shoulder is comfort. Comfort is fine in small doses and in certain areas of life, but, like gravel, it can also serve as a warning. Remember, ambition flourishes in discontent with the status quo. Discontent and comfort cannot coexist. If a leader becomes too comfortable, ambition will die, and the soft gravel of comfort can pull him or her down into the Ditch of Complacency…Also notice that being a leader means traveling close to the Shoulder of Frustration. In fact, this is the mark of any true leader, being a leader is a study in managed frustration. How can one have ambition tor a brighter tomorrow without being frustrated at the current set of realities? How can a leader be at war with the status quo and not be frustrated at the same time? The answer, of course, is that no leader can. Any real leader traveling the Road of Success toward his or her dreams will encounter frustration along the journey. Frustration can be healthy, but, just like the shoulder on the other side of the road, this gravel of frustration presents a trap. Too much frustration can be a warning to the leader that his or her attitude is dipping and could pull the leader down into the Ditch of Discouragement.”

8- “The Three Levels of Motivation There are Three Levels of Motivation where hunger is fed and nurtured. The first is not quite as powerful as the second, and the second is not quite as powerful as the third. Motivation Level 1: Material Success This first category is comprised of all the material things that excite our senses and stimulate us to want to perform. For many people, one of the attractive aspects of performing as a leader in their field is the material or financial gain that can accompany that success…Motivation Level 2: Recognition and Respect The next level of motivation is comprised of recognition and respect. This is a deeper, more powerful level than that of material success…Motivation Level 3: Purpose, Destiny, and Legacy.”

9- “And as any leader will soon discover, real, true. Lasting accomplishment comes mostly from the “deeper” levels of motivation. Indeed, a strong sense of purpose, an understanding of personal destiny, and the desire to leave a lasting, positive legacy obedient to God’s vision for us are by far the strongest types of motivation. Leaders must cultivate these sources of motivation on a regular basis to fuel performance and sustain it over the long haul. Every action one takes is either one step closer or one step farther from his or her destiny. Remember, many begin the journey. Very few finish well. It’s the hungry who make it.”

10- “Foundational Quality 2: Hone’able – The definition of hone is “to sharpen or smooth with a whetstone or to make more acute, intense, or effective.” The second foundational quality of a leader is to be hone-able, to have an attitude that allows intensifying and sharpening…For a leader there is no completion to education. We need to live like we will die tomorrow and learn like we will live forever. When a leader remains teachable, his or her potential is limitless. With this in mind, there are several roadblocks to learning that a leader must constantly avoid…Arrogance…Disinterest…Wrong Assumptions…Entrenched Habits…Not Invented Here Syndrome…Wrong Priorities…Cynicism.”

11- “Foundational Quality 3: Honorable – Integrity can be considered as the condition of “not doing what’s wrong.” Character can be defined as doing the right thing, for the mere reason that it is the right thing, even if that thing is difficult and unpopular. The two sewn together make honor.”

12- “Vision comes from the picture of a dream in the leader’s mind. One doesn’t always get what one wants, and one doesn’t always get what one deserves, but one does generally get what one pictures. Having a clear mental picture is the vision the leader carries and casts. Some call it visualization. This is where the dream-building exercise can come in handy, serving to build and maintain a clear vision in the mind of the leader. It is the iterative Cycle of Achievement loop that leaders deploy in their planned attack on the status quo. Understanding each of the parts and using it as a road map allows leaders to improve their performance on a continuing basis. The Cycle of Achievement gives leaders one way to describe that improvement process and keeps them on track as they rotate the cycle over and over again. With every rotation, the leader improves, advances, and betters himself. (vision, goal setting, game planning, working, seeking counsel).”

13- “Personal growth is internal, taking place deep within a leader. Often, when people embark upon the journey of becoming leaders, they feel frustrated at a lack of external results to show for their efforts. But the process of becoming a leader starts with a lot of effort, which results in improvements the outside world cannot yet see. The gains are internal, inside the person. Only later will all the effort at personal growth and improvement show up in the form of external result Stephen Covey says, “Internal victories precede external victories.””

14- “The Three Categories of Personal Effectiveness: I – Character  1. honesty 2. integrity 3. courage 4. proper values based on absolute truths 5. faith 6. a humble spirit 7. patience with others 8. discipline 9. self-mastery  II- Tasks 1. acceptance of responsibility 2. work ethic 3. availability 4. willingness to invest time 5. tenacity 6. perseverance 7. execution III- Relationships 1. accepting people 2. approving of people 3. appreciating people 4. seeing the good in people 5. encouraging people 6. caring for and about people 7. putting others first 8. seeking win-win arrangements 9. helping people accomplish tasks 10. living the “Golden Rule”.  ”

15- “The Five Levels of Influence Explained – This concept of Levels of Influence will be explored within the framework of the following hierarchy: 1. Learning 2. Performing 3. Leading 4. Developing Leaders 5. Developing Developers of Leaders…Note that the playing field is not level. It is more like a flight of ascending stairs. This is because as a leader progresses through the leadership-development process, his influence increases and the impact of his efforts have broader scope. Also, as the leader ascends the Levels of Influence, each of the previous levels stays with him. Just because a leader has advanced to the level of Performing doesn’t mean he stops Learning. Likewise, a leader who advances to Developing Leaders cannot stop Leading in other areas, and so on.”

16- “The First Level of Influence, Learning: Presuppositions or the “Art” of Learning – Learning Is a Top Priority, Leaders Can Learn from Anyone, Leaders Can Learn Best from Those Who Have Results | Actions or the “Science” of Learning – Leaders Learn About People Leaders Learn About Basics, Leaders Learn About Goals and Objectives, Leaders Learn About Processes, Leaders Learn About Measurements of Performance, Leaders Learn About Rewards, Leaders Learn about Histories, Leaders Learn About Environment, Leaders Learn About Obstacles and Oppositions, Leaders Learn from Books, Leaders Learn from Audio Recordings, Leaders Learn from Videos, Leaders Learn from Association with Other Successful Leaders, Leaders Learn from Coaches and Mentors, Leaders Learn from Action, Leaders Learn by Controlling the Flow.”

17- “The Second Level of Influence, Performing: Presuppositions or the “Art” of Performing – Performers To Understand that Results Come through Personal Effort, Performers Understand that Champions Don’t Start Out that Way, Performers Know There Will Be Many opportunities to Feel Second Best, Performers Don’t Expect Fair Treatment, Performers Know There Will Always Be Critics, Performers Know There Will Always Be Strong Adversaries, Performers Understand that Breaks Will Come to Those Who Prepare, Performers Know that Attitude Conquers Circumstances, Performers Understand that Desire Trumps Talent, Performers Can Never Be Satisfied, Performers Know There Is Power in Belief | Actions or the “Science” of Performing – Performers Work as Part of an Overall Team, Performers Edify the Organization’s Leadership, Performers Promote the Training System and Learning Environment, Performers Follow the Proven Methods, Performers Build on Their Basic Strengths, Performers Initiate Activity, Performers Push to Grow and Improve, Performers Become Relatable, Performers Become Believable and Demonstrate Conviction, Performers Maintain a Positive Attitude, Performers Give Their Best in Every Situation, Performers Get Results (Execute), Performers Ignore Their Press Clippings.”

18- “The Third Level of Influence, Leading: Presuppositions or the “Art” of Leading – Leaders Understand that Results Come Trough Team Effort, Leaders Understand that People Buy In to the Leader before Anything Else, Leaders Understand the Importance of Finding and Developing Good People, Leaders Understand that Dealing with Inadequate Resources Is Common, Leaders Understand that Leadership Is the Limitation, Leaders Understand the Impact of Their Actions on the Organization, Leaders Understand that Leadership Is about Sacrifice, Leaders Understand that a Leader’s Job Is Never Done | Actions or the “Science” of Leading- Leaders Model the Way, Leaders Compel Individuals to Perform, Leaders Coach Others, Leaders Become Servants, Leaders Operate as Field Commanders, Leaders Orchestrate Activity, Leaders Measure Results, Leaders Solve Problems, Leaders Communicate.”

19- “The Fourth Level of Influence, Developing Leaders: Presuppositions or the “Art” of Leadership Development – Level 4 Leaders Know Results Will Come Through the Efforts of Other Leaders, Level 4 Leaders Understand the Power of Duplication, Level 4 Leaders Know that leaders Have Strengths in Various Areas, Level 4 Leaders Know the Vision Must Be Big Enough for Many Leaders, Level 4 Leaders Know that Recognition Is the Most Valuable Motivator | Actions or the “Science” of Leadership Development – Level 4 Leaders Compel Other Leaders to Get Team Results, Level 4 Leaders Become Talent Scouts, Level 4 Leaders Empower Other Leaders, Level 4 Leaders Learn to Mentor.”

20- “…when identifying potential leaders, there are a few more attributes to consider so that the Level 4 Leader does not waste time mentoring those who will not blossom into effective leaders. These are: 4. Activity 5. Respect 6. Connected relationship 7. Attitude 8. Relatability.”

21- “Level 4 Leaders must understand that the process of mentoring is a balancing act. Just as the road to success is bordered by Ditches of Discouragement and Complacency, the process of mentoring is bordered by the Ditches of Friendship and Dictatorship.”

22- “Regarding the protege, the mentor wishes to know: 1. What makes him tick? 2. What makes him special? 3- Why did he get involved in his particular field? 4. What motivates I him? What are his dreams? 5. What is his personality or temperament? 6. What challenges has he had in his life? 7. What victories has he had? 8. What principles does he understand and embody? 9. What principles does he still need to learn? 10. What blind spots does he have about himself? 11. What is his commitment level? 12. What is the basis of his character? 13. Where is his thinking?”

23- “(On Mentoring) Sets the Example, Asks Questions, Builds the Relationship, Affirms the Protege, Builds the Protege’s Belief, Builds the Protege’s Dream, Kills the Protege’s Fear, Gives Confidence, Keeps the Protege in the Action Phase, Reframes the Protege’s Challenges, Allows Struggle to Instruct, Encourages the Protege, Spreads Contagious Enthusiasm, Teaches the Philosophy, Course-Corrects and Confronts the Issues, Gets the Protege to Take Responsibility, Challenges the Protege, Pursues a Heart Change, Develops Balance in the Protege.”

24- “The Fifth Level of Influence, Developing Leaders Who Develop Leaders: Presuppositions or the “Art” of Level 5 -Results Will Come Through the Endurance and Succession of the Vision, The Vision and the Leader Are Intertwined | Actions or the “Science” of Level 5 – Attract the Highest-Caliber Leaders to the Cause.”

25- “The concept of the Five Levels of Influence is especially helpful for many reasons. First, it helps an individual gauge his own ability and understand how and where to improve. Second, it helps a leader understand where people are in terms of ability and what to do to help them develop. Third, it assists a leader in evaluating the Leadership Level that exists in any portion of his or her organization. Understanding this information about self, people, and organizations becomes extremely helpful in diagnosing issues and providing guidance, correction, and direction.

Regards,

Omar Halabieh

Launching A Leadership Revolution

On Churchill

I recently finished reading Churchill – A Study In Greatness – by Geoffrey Best.

Below are key excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:

1- “Churchill did not see himself as an ‘enemy of the people’. He perceived himself as a benevolent friend to the working class, a promoter of social welfare, and the protector of unions’ rights and of everybody’s civil rights; and indeed the record shows that he was all those things. But the record also shows how little he was prepared to see everybody’s civil rights and the security of the state endangered by civil disorder and revolutionary activism. The legend of ‘Tonypandy’ after all had some justice in it, though for the wrong reason. ”

2- “Churchill’s words – ‘Those terrible “ifs” accumulate’ – are only too true. There were numbers of moments when, if events had taken another turn, if advice had been accepted or rejected, or if decisions had been made instead of shelved. history would have been written altogether differently. But one of the most Striking features of the many accounts of the campaign is that each authority seems to choose his own turning-points, and hardly any two are the same.”

3- “Two of his deep-down passions and principles were, first, the rule of law as protector of civil and religious liberty, and of the standards of civilisation; and, secondly, the place and prestige in the world of Great Britain and its Empire, as necessary both for the security of the English-speaking people and for the welfare of its other subjects. In the gap which sometimes opened between them may be glimpsed, not at all surprisingly, prejudices and assumptions which he shared with other men of his age, race, nation and class.”

4- “Men who take up arms against the State must expect at any moment to be fired upon … Men who take up arms unlawfully cannot expect that the troops will wait until they are quite ready to begin the conflict … Armed men are in a category absolutely different from unarmed men … I carefully said that when I used the word ‘armed’ I meant armed with lethal weapons or with firearms This crowd was unarmed. These are simple tests which it is not too much to expect officers in these difficult situations to apply.”

5- “He still held to the belief that he was destined to do great things for the nation he loved, but when, if or how he would ever be able to do them seemed doubtful even to him. War was what especially excited him and brought out what was most original and powerful within him. Aware of the dangers of such a temperament, he was not the bad sort of man who would wish to start a war in order to shine in it, but his early scepticism about the Treaty of Versailles had been borne out by subsequent events. and by now, the early 1930s, he felt more and more sure that what was still universally known as the Great War would sooner or later become called the First World War.”

6- “He was the first British statesman of any note to identify, and to call public attention to, the dangerous twist given to German national aspirations p (which he well understood) by their confluence from 1933 with Nazi ideology and Hitler’s leadership. He correctly sensed before evidence had accumulated to support the charge, how dangerous to the peace of the world Germany would become in Hitler’s hands.”

7- “Churchill was the most prominent of the few leaders of British opinion who refused to believe that this policy of appeasement, once the British government had unmistakably adopted it, was either honourable or sensible. He understood what Hitler meant by the Versailles grievances but something, probably just brilliant intuition, told him that Hitler had much more in mind than the mere redress of them.”

8- “Churchill was not the man to let this great machine run without constant inspection and interference. His style of management was striking and peculiar, the most remarkable no doubt of any Prime Minister’s, and although it undoubtedly had abrasive and time-wasting aspects, overall and in the long run it did much more good than harm.”

9- “War is a constant struggle and must be waged from day to day. It is only with some difficulty and within limits that provision can be made for the future. Experience shows that forecasts are usually falsified and preparations always in arrears. Nevertheless, there must be a design and theme for bringing the war to a victorious end in a reasonable period…”

10- “An iron curtain is drawn down upon their front. We do not know what is going on behind … Surely it is vital now to come to an understanding with Russia, or see where we are with her, before we weaken our armies mortally or retire to the zones of occupation.”

11- “As we go forward on our difficult road, we shall always be guided by two main aims of policy. One is to lose no opportunity of convincing the Soviet leaders and, if we can reach them, the Russian people, that the democracies of the West have no aggressive designs on them. The other is to ensure that until that purpose has been achieved we have the strength necessary to deter any aggression by them and to ward it off if it should come. We shall continue at the same time to seek by every means open to us an easement [detente] in international tension and a sure foundation on which the people of the world can live their lives in security and peace.”

Regards,

Omar Halabieh

Churchill