Be an example to your men!
An officer can be a power for good or a power for evil. Don’t preach to them – that will be worse than useless. Live the kind of life you would have them lead, and you will be surprised to see the number that will imitate you.
A loud-mouthed, profane captain who is careless of his personal appearance will have a loud-mouthed, profane, dirty company. Remember what I tell you. Your company will be the reflection of yourself! If you have a rotten company it will be because you are a rotten captain.
Self-sacrifice is essential to leadership. You will give, give, all the time. You will give of yourself physically, for the longest hours, the hardest work and the greatest responsibility are the lot of the captain. He is the first man up in the morning and the last man in at night. He works while others sleep.
You will give of yourself mentally, in sympathy and appreciation for the troubles of men in your charge. This one’s mother has died, and that one has lost all his savings in a bank failure. They may desire help, but more than anything else they desire sympathy. Don’t make the mistake of turning such men down with the statement that you have troubles of your own, for every time you do that you knock a stone out o f the foundation of your house.
Your men are your foundation, and your house of leadership will tumble about your ears unless it rests securely upon them. Finally, you will give of your own slender financial resources. You will frequently spend your own money to conserve the health and well-being of your men or to assist them when in trouble. Generally you get your money back. Very frequently you must charge it off to profit and loss.
Even so, it is worth the cost. When I say that paternalism is essential to leadership I use the term in its better sense. I do not now refer to that form of paternalism which robs men of initiative, self-reliance and self-respect. I refer to the paternalism that manifests itself in a watchful care for the comfort and welfare of those in your charge.
Soldiers are much like children. You must see that they have shelter, food and clothing, the best that your utmost efforts can provide. You must see that they have food to eat before you think of your own; that they have each as good a bed as can be provided before you consider where you will sleep. You must be far more solicitous of their comfort than of your own.
You must look after their health. You must conserve their strength by not demanding needless exertion or useless labor. And by doing all these things you are breathing life into what would be otherwise a mere machine. You are creating a soul in your organization that will make the mass respond to you as though it were one man. And that is esprit.
Thanks and regards,
Seth Simon Mwakitalu
Entrepreneurship Consultant and Lifestyle Trainer
Tel: +255 754 441325 or +255 714 051174