If you watched the excellent HBO World War II miniseries The Pacific you’ve seen the difference between leaders and everyone else. One episode features the grisly beach landing by US Marines on Peleliu. Before the landing craft can unload a fresh batch of inexperienced soldiers they come under devastating fire. Marines are hit while still on the boats. Deafening planes strafe just overhead, bombs falling.

Bedlam!

Dizzying.

Disorienting.

Most of the GI’s who survive long enough to reach the sand freeze in fear as mortars and bullets take down their companions. The wounded scream, some writhing, others whimpering.

Then, over the din of the guns and the bombs you hear just a few voices. They are clear, confident, urgent voices. It is the officers, giving directions.

Compared to the rookies, they seem unconcerned about their own safety. Their focus is not dodging bullets or ducking when a mortar shell explodes. Their focus is the mission.

They urge their marines to get up and move—in the face of fear. “You want to live? Get off the beach and move!”

Leaders lead by going first.

 

-Kirk Kirlin, Leadership Courage more at www.KirlinCoaching.com/blog/

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