My all time favourite TV series is M*A*S*H, a comedy/drama centred around the doctors and nurses of the 4077th M*A*S*H unit during the Korean War. The series was so poplular that it outlasted the duration of the 3 year war, spanning 11 seasons and 251 episodes.

The strong characterisation and story lines presented thought provoking themes that provide the ideal platform for lessons on life and leadership. Whether you are a fan of the show or not, I'm sure you will connect with my leadership insights from M*A*S*H.

LEADING FROM THE TRENCHES features bite-sized, candid insights that speak into the gritty space of leadership through the eyes of a fellow leader seeking to "lead with all diligence" (Romans 12:8).

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Loyal To A Fault

Episode 60:  A Full Rich Day

Hawkeye:   Smithy, I’m going to have to go serious on you about this thing.  We have a different perspective on the war as a whole than I think is possible for you.  To a line officer with 30-40 guys lives depending upon him, and your life depending upon them; the war is not some big geo-political conflict between nations and ideologies.  It’s not just China and America sticking their tongues out at each other.  To you there’s maybe 30-40 guys in that high grass out there trying to kill me and my 30-40 guys.  It’s that concentrated.  To you that’s the entire war…But it’s something else in our little heaven.  To us the war is trying very hard to control chaos.  We are up to our bottoms in other people’s bottoms here.  We can’t afford the same kind of fierce personal loyalties that you and Sergeant Brian feel for each other.  Can you understand that?...It’s the size of the wound, who’s bleeding the most buckets who we give priority to.  It’s the only place I know that being the worst is the best.

Hawkeye records a message to his dad about the events of a very eventful day.  Among the variety of casualties presenting to the 4077th is an infantry soldier who demands the doctors treat his friend first by threatening them at gunpoint.

While loyalty to a leader or a team is a highly valued virtue in any organisation, there are times when blind loyalty can distort our view of reality and become a liability.  I’ve worked in teams where loyalty to long standing relationships has compromised right decisions or covered-up wrong behaviour.  In both cases truth and integrity became casualties of blind loyalty.  In contrast, John Maxwell says “loyalty means giving me an honest opinion, whether you think I’ll like it or not.”  From this position loyalty becomes more about faithfulness than friendship and the priority of leadership stays focused on the grander vision rather than allowing personal agendas making us vulnerable to being loyal to a fault.

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