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Leadership from "Band of Brothers" Commander

 

Major Richard "Dick" Winters, a native of Ephrata in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, was the Commander of "Easy Company", 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, part of the 101st Airborne Division, in World War II. They have affectionately become known as the "Band of Brothers".

On D-Day (June 6, 1944) he parachuted behind enemy lines into Normandy, France. 156,000 other American, British and Canadian forces were involved in "Operation Overlord" that become the turning point in the liberation of Europe.

Many years after WWII, his grandson asked him if he was a hero in the war. Dick Winters replied:

"No, but I served in a 'company' of heroes."

Humility | Courage | Guts | Brains | Compassion | Humanity

Respect | Focus | Aware | Strong | Prepared

These are just a few of the words that come to my mind to describe Dick Winters. Here are his Top 10 principles for success:

  1. Strive to be a leader of character, competence and courage. Lead the way by setting the example.
  2. Stay in physical shape, physical stamina aids mental toughness
  3. Develop your team. Know your people. Being fair in setting realistic goals and expectations develops teamwork.
  4. Delegate responsibility and let them do their jobs. Doing a good job means you have a chance to use your imagination and creativity.
  5. Anticipate problems and prepare to overcome obstacles. Think about your options and stay one step ahead.
  6. Be humble. Don't worry about who gets credit.
  7. Never let power or authority go to your head. Never.
  8. Self-reflection. Look in the mirror and ask yourself if you did your best. Satisfaction comes from getting the job done.
  9. You earn respect. It's not about title, position or authority. It's about being a leader of character.
  10. Hang Tough! Never, ever give up!


YOU EARN IT

Being unfair and unreasonable causes resentment in those you're charged with leading and caring for. Spend time together. Doing a good job says "follow me" because you've earned their trust. Only then can they begin to rely on one another and capitalize on the diversity of their strengths to accomplish the mission. This teamwork helps bring out everyone's abilities during team crisis. Leaders know what has to be done and they set about to do it while knowing who they have to do it with.

GIVE

The guys in "Easy Company" loved to play card games. These games were great for them to get to know each other better and supported an environment where trust could flourish. They wanted the officers to join in but Dick Winters always refused. He believed you should never take from those you're leading. Instead you should strive to have them feel like you are always giving to them.

"Wars do not make men great but they do bring out the greatness in good men." -Major Dick Winters

From his first days in the Army after he enlisted on August 25, 1941 to Victory in Europe Day (May 8, 1945) and throughout his life he was steadfast in striving to be the best he could be. He was a leader who created many more leaders during his life. Under the most dire circumstances, he could take it and encouraged others to take it so they could get through the horrors of war together. This is ultimately what got them through and made them a Band of Brothers.

"If you are a leader, a fellow who other fellows look to, you have to keep going." -Dick Winters



*Dick Winters "Hang Tough" autograph from worthpoint.com

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This technology is supported in part by New Technologies for Agriculture Extension grant no. 2020-41595-30123 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture and membership funding. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the content are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For more information, please visit extension.org. You can view the terms of useat extension.org/terms.

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