“The American Soldier is better led than driven.” – General Colin L. Powell
Do you bark orders and instructions or do you teach, coach, and mentor?
What’s the difference between leaders and drivers? It boils down to one simple question, “Do you value people?” Drivers don’t value people. They manipulate people. Drivers take people where they want to go because it benefits them. Leaders guide people where they need to go. Drivers create winning situations for themselves. Leaders strive to create win-win situations for everyone.
General Colin Powell in his latest book, “It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership ‘, tells a short story about old war movies. He recalls hearing the words “That’s an order!” time and time again barked out by “The Brass”. Shortly thereafter he says, “The American Soldier is better led than driven.” Immediately my mind started churning out ideas and I was asking myself “What is the difference between a driver and a leader?”
Immediately, I started having visions of old generals and crusty sergeants major barking (yelling really) orders to their subordinates. It was clear, they did not want nor care for the input of their team members. Once again the question pops into my “Whats the difference between a driver and a leader?” Time and time again I arrived at the same answer. Do you value people?
There are times when I am unwilling or unable to discuss an issue further. In those instances I simply say “It’s no longer open for discussion. The decision has been made”. In truth, I find those situations few and far between. Why? I want to cultivate an environment of learning and growth. I want my team to understand the “why” behind the action. I am trying to set them up for continue success. I don’t want robots who execute the orders they have been programmed to execute. I want leaders who can make sound well formed decisions.
Drivers simply want commands executed without thought. In other words, they drive you like a car. Your only responsibility is to execute their orders, without question or thought. Leaders use every situation to teach, coach, and mentor. In the words of General Powell,”Clever, gifted leaders, in sync with their units and culture, can often command with the most delicate touch.”
Leaders try to gain the buy-in of followers by coaching, teaching, and mentoring; drivers on the other hand simply seek to impose THEIR will.
Sad to say, at one point in my career I was a driver. I believed leaders were leaders because they were all knowing and the best thing since sliced bread. Since they were all knowing and infallible leaders simply needed to impose their will. I am happy to report I was totally wrong! Today, I use every opportunity I can to Teach, Coach, and Mentor. I attempt to gain the buy-in of junior leaders through empowerment combined with open and active dialogues. I am glad I saw the error of my ways. Thanks Dad!
Do you serve with leaders, drivers, or both? What is the relationship of the driver with their service members?
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