Is your leadership country club or the kind that would sacrifice pawns to save the king?Is your leadership country club or the kind that would sacrifice pawns to save the king?

Coronel Swami de Holanda Fontes

Chess is a game of strategy in which two opponents move 32 pieces around a 64 square board. One player has eight pawns, two rooks, two knights, two bishops, a queen and a king, all in white, and the other player has the same pieces, in black. Each piece can be moved, the queen being the one with the highest capacity, and the pawn the one with the lowest value.

In the course of the moves, it is common for pieces to be sacrificed, usually pawns, either to protect the king, or to reach the goal of the game, which is to capture the opponent’s king, leaving it with no options for movement – the so-called checkmate.

Those observing the game can see the impassive faces of the players, who plan their moves without emotion, and have no feeling in immolating whatever is necessary for the objective to be reached; after all, the lost pieces are merely inanimate objects.

When transposing this game to real life, how would we act to achieve a goal? Which comes first: the people or the accomplishment of the mission? How do we find the balance? How to lead?

Etymologically, the word leadership comes from the English acervo “to lead” and its origin is documented from the year 825; at that time, it meant to lead, to direct, to command, to persuade, to guide, to command, etc. The Portuguese language only included the word “leadership” in the second half of the 19th century, when it incorporated the radical “líder” in its morphology, meaning “chefia”, “comando”, “encabeçamento”, etc.

Under different approaches, some works focus the subject leadership from the point of view of application, that is, according to the effects in the management of companies, society, politics, religion, military activity, etc. Others study the causes, trying to understand their origin and raising the reasons that lead an individual to become a leader.

For branches of science such as Psychology, leadership is a stimulating process by which, based on successful reciprocal actions, individual differences are controlled in order to benefit a common cause. For Sociology, on the other hand, the term is defined as the ability and power to inspire, guide, and act upon groups.

Based on the etymology of the word, as well as on the generic concepts of Psychology and Sociology, and following the evolution of the study on leadership, the theme can be divided into two visions: one that links leadership to personal attributes and one that subordinates the leader to group dynamics, that is, to an organizational function.

As far as personal attributes are concerned, in the past, the innatist, or individualist, theory predominated, which was based on heredity, that is, on genetics. According to this theory, man is already born with the gift and attribute of personality, which puts him in a prominent position in relation to others. Moreover, he does not learn to be a leader; the environment in which he lives does not influence him; and society does not teach or instruct him; the leadership he exerts is simply inherent to him by nature. However, this theory was abandoned because it could not explain the loss of leadership, that is, the temporariness that can occur in various situations with the inatistic leader.

The view of the subordination of man to the group is a result of the gestaltist (formalist) movement, which can be divided into sociological and social field theory.

In the sociological theory, leadership is the result of the environment of coexistence at a given moment. Unlike the innate leader, in this theory, man is the consequence of the social group to which he belongs. He is influenced, exchanges ideas and interacts with the community, conquering leadership by reproducing or portraying the spirit of the community, the work group, etc. However, this theory, just like the inatist one, is not complete, because it doesn’t explain why only a few are able to exercise leadership.

Possibly, because it is the most complete, the social field theory explains that man acquires leadership as a result of his integration with those he leads. Through an intense participation in the social group and by demonstrating his capabilities, the leader, in harmony with the ideals of the collectivity and possessing some psychological traits common to the group, obtains prestige before the others.

Comparing the emphasis that the leader employs to accomplish the mission with the interest in man, the Americans Robert R. Blake and Jane S. Mouton classified leadership as follows:

  • Leadership 1.1 (impoverished management), characterized by the omniscient and cheerless leader, who merely does what is determined, demanding the bare minimum to avoid discrediting the organization, and not caring about man or the mission. The leader adopts a behavior of neutrality and does not get involved, because his thinking is that he sees nothing, hears nothing, and has nothing to say.
  • Leadership 1.9 (country club management), when the leader shows little commitment in guiding his followers to achieve the objectives; however, he provides a pleasant and friendly atmosphere in the organization. His behavior is characterized by his concern in being on good terms with everyone, seeking approval for his actions, and always being helpful and helpful.
  • Leadership type 5.5 (middle-management), referring to the leader who tries to obtain satisfactory results with a balance between work obligations and keeping morale at a reasonable level. The leader in this framework does not expose himself, is cautious and tries to represent being a good figure.
  • Leadership 9.1 (task management), referring to the leader who seeks the accomplishment of the mission, treating subordinates only as performers and minimizing the interference of human factors. The leader is sure of his actions, likes to surprise someone wrong, does not waver, and likes to dominate and have an advantage.
  • Leadership 9.9 (team management), identified in the moment in which the fulfillment of the mission depends on each person’s commitment; the common interest to achieve the objectives generates an interdependence that translates into trust and respect relationships within the organization. The leader seeks to coincide personal satisfaction in the accomplishment of a job with the fulfillment of the mission.

The following two cases would fit which type of leadership?

  • Approximately 2,000 years ago, at a time when the means of communication were practically nonexistent, a great religious leader arose, spontaneously drawing crowds and managing to endure his thoughts and followers until the present day. His work of preaching love, repentance and forgiveness was strongly man-centered. In the mission vs. man relationship, there was a great concern for the lives of others, less for his own.
  • On the other hand, in the last century, the German people started World War II through a leader who led his followers like military troops, strongly disciplined. The blind and absolute obedience to the leader was perceptible by their show of force and the way they attacked their political opponents. Even today, there are still small groups of followers who admire him. In seeking to make Germany a great country, he disregarded the value of life.

A proposal for reflection: to what extent, on a daily basis, would you be willing to sacrifice your followers in order to fulfill your mission?

Back to chess, a curious thing about the pawn is that it can become a bishop, a knight, a rook, and even a queen, if it manages to reach one side of the board. It is possible that at this point the relative combat power of the players will change drastically.

In short, the pawn can turn the game around!


About the author:

Colonel Swami de Holanda Fontes is an Artillery Officer from the Academia Militar das Agulhas Negras (Black Needles Military Academy). He has the following internships and courses in the Brazilian Army: Social Communication, Military Escalator and Psychological Operations internships, training in Organizational Strategic Planning, specialization in Geo-Historical Bases for Strategic Formulation, Master in Military Operations and Master in Military Sciences, Command and General Staff, Basic Parachute and Basic Military Intelligence courses.

At the Brazilian Intelligence Agency he took a course on Notions of Terrorism Phenomenon and at the Superior School of War, the Joint Operations Doctrine Extension Course. Abroad, he specialized in Strategic Intelligence at the Intelligence Institute of the Argentine Armed Forces; in National Military Security and Command at the National Defense University of China; in Political Doctrine in Media and in Media Operations, these last two courses taken at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) school, in Germany.

He was an intelligence analyst at the Ministry of Defense and a Counterintelligence analyst at the Army Intelligence Center. He commanded the Groups of Intelligence Operations of the 3rd Motorized Infantry Brigade in Cristalina/GO and of the 16th Jungle Infantry Brigade in Tefé/AM, the Center of Preparation of Officers of the Reserve of the 3rd Campaign Artillery Group – Mallet Regiment, in Santa Maria/RS, the Artillery course of the School of Officers Perfectioning in Rio de Janeiro/RJ and the 7th Campaign Artillery Group – Olinda Regiment, in Olinda/PE. He was Chief of the Operations Section and Chief of the Public Relations Division of the Army Communication Center. He is currently the Chief of Staff of the 7th Army Division in Recife/PE.

*** Translated by the DEFCONPress FYI Team ***

By admin