I am grateful for a former military leader who shared a story with me. He recently left a significant position in a professional organization and his explanation was intriguing.
He said that, when he was an officer in the Army, he had to make the conscious decision that he was willing to die in pursuing his various missions. He said that when you have to attack a high-risk objective, it is probable that some of your people are going to die and they know of the probability. So they have to be willing to die. A major determinant of their commitment is their perception of their leader’s commitment. No matter what the leader says or does, they know if the leader is authentic, they know if the leader is willing to do what the leader is asking.
He then told of missions in which people did die, and he told of later speaking to the mothers and wives. He said that when you have such experiences you learn to ask two questions; what is the objective? It is worth the probable costs? If the answers are appropriate, you totally commit and you expect everyone else to totally commit. Total commitment leads to greater effort and higher coordination. It increases the likelihood of success and decreases the likely number of people who are going to die.
This is the understanding of a very strong man. His experience has refined him and turned him into a leader people are willing to follow. This strength and influence can be seen in his most recent decision to leave a high paying corporate job. He left his recent professional situation because he perceived that the people above him were not totally committed to their mission. He did not want to be in such a setting. He wants to be committed to missions of higher purpose and he wants the people around him to be committed to missions of higher purpose.