The leadership call that President Obama made yesterday, sacking his top General in Afghanistan, represents a good topic for debate.

When I was last interviewing for a leadership role I was asked a question I had never been asked before;

You have a super star sales rep. I mean that rep is blowing it out of the water, all the time. But the rep is disruptive, not being a good team player. Not following process, being demanding, among other things. What do you do?

My answer was pretty simple. In that case i would set expectations, encourage mentorship, actively engage, coach as things happened, and seek results and change. If there is not agreement to seek change (the rep didn’t see the problem at hand, which is common. Many people are in denial of their own shortcomings), then i would take a more formal route like a plan.
I wonder if the President missed an opportunity here, considering the following;

  1. The general is doing a good job and making progress in an untenable situation where others have not.
  2. The guy clearly cares, his heart and soul is in it.
  3. The Afghan President wanted the general to stay as he believed that more change at this juncture is really bad (I would agree).
  4. There was a real opportunity to demonstrate that he could look beyond the insubordination, that it wasnt about him, that it was about the soldiers and the Afghan people.
  5. That the appropriately chastised general would realize that his leader spared him, and would invest his gratitude for not ending a long career into a serious attitude change.

In the end, we will never know because it is all about that last point. The general has been involved in 2 cover up scandals, has shot off his mouth before and is clearly trying to play general and politician (which he is clearly not adept at  .. He is a tool, to be employed by a skilled leader). He also prides himself a little too much on being the rebel or cowboy. If achieving 5 was not possible then he made the right decision.
After all, success will be all about people and the team, not one general.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s