A true leader walks the talk

If you are a true leader you walk the talk. That means that every day is the day you stand up for the values of your organization. There is no substitute for walking the talk. You cannot delegate walking the talk. Instead of trying to tell you how I think walking the talk looks like, I prefer to use real-life examples that inspire me.

A true measure of leadership is to always show that you have your people’s back. Here’s an example on how a true leader can put his career on the line for his people. On February 16, 2015, Gadi Eisenkot became the 21st Chief of Staff (Ramatkal in Hebrew), the highest rank in the Israeli Defense Forces. But earlier in his career he was prematurely relieved from his command as a company commander, in a humiliating public event in front of his soldiers. That happened after he refused to call his soldiers back from a well-deserved vacation after completing an assignment in Lebanon. This was because they were asked to participate in an operation that he considered to be not worth bringing them back from their hard-earned vacation.

But that’s not enough. You also need to be uncompromising when the values of your organization are at stake. The same Gadi Eisenkot, when the situation required, showed what an uncompromising military commander needs to do in order to prepare his unit for battle. While being appointed as the Golani Brigade commander, one of the most admired units in the IDF, he had to address issues of lack of discipline among his senior soldiers. Up to that time, older Golani soldiers enjoyed significant privileges. They had the ability to ignore their junior officers orders without suffering the consequences. It was a known problem that most commanders learned to live with. Eizenkot took it on. He sent tens of soldiers and commanders to military jail, kicked others out of the unit, and disbanded an entire Golani company, something that was never done before. In the end he was able to uproot the problem and change the brigade forever.

This is the story of an Israeli Infantry soldier showing how allowing access to Chief of Staff can win a soldier’s heart.

“As an infantry soldier, the boots were my most important gear after my weapon. In the IDF boots are issued to soldiers by the army. I had a problem with a pair of boots; they did not fit well. I couldn’t get them replaced through the normal channels, because they were slightly worn but not enough to be considered obsolete. I wrote a letter to Rafael Eitan (Raful), which was the Israeli chief of staff at the time. Two weeks later I was ordered to report to the brigade’s commander. He was livid for not coming to him first. He first lectured me, then handed me a brand new pair of boots. I don’t know any other army where low-ranking soldiers have such access to their chief of staff and feel comfortable enough to ask for his intervention on such trivial matters.”

So walk the talk. Only you can do it.

You cannot delegate Walk the Talk.

by Eric Kish, October, 22nd 2018

Gadi Eisenkot
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