A true leader

I couldn’t resist the temptation when the title “Saving Private Ryan” flashed in front of me.

I clicked on it and then it reminded me of the brutality and cruelty of wars.

For a person seeking peace, I knew I shouldn’t be watching such movie again for it will definitely be disturbing but I have no regret watching the film again.

Besides the brutal scenes and the fantastic sound effects, what I learned was something that didn’t occur to me in the past when I first watched it.

I saw a great leader, leading a team of fearless men who loved their country and were determined to complete their mission, except that the mission was to save a man and send him back to home.

A true leader is one who knows his roles, his duties and his job. One who will do what his men do when the time arises, and not just being able to delegate and optimise resources.

Delegation, a word overused and abused by some leaders who lead a team of ground operations and yet knowing nothing about the nature and details of the work to be done.

A Major may not need to know the exact drill of a private man, but a Captain who directly lead the men, should have a good understanding of the battle ground, the drills in and out and able to execute during times of difficulties faced by the men or when there is a shortage of resources.

Similarly, the chief of an organisation and departments do not need to know the exact process of the ground operations, but team managers who lead the operations must know so that he can step in to get his hands dirty when the need arises.

He will fight with the men, side by side, and not behind.

He takes ownership and does not blame anyone for anything that goes wrong, but take accountability of his own misjudgement and moves on.

He knows each and everyone’s strengths and weaknesses and use resources at the right place, at the right time, instead of squeezing every drop of juice from the fruits and enjoying the taste of success at the expense of the men, while he does nothing at all.

He knows the direction, make firm decisions and fight for what is right, not what is to his own benefits, especially during times of adversity.

That’s a true leader.

There was a few conversations in the film that really struck my heart and I wanted to note them down as part of my learning.

Miller: “You know… when you end up killing one of your men, you tell yourself it happened so that you could save the lives of two, or three, or ten others, maybe hundred others. Do you know how many men I lost in my command?

Horvath: “How many…?”

Miller: “Ninety-four. But that means I saved the lives of ten times that many, doesn’t it? Maybe twenty, twenty times that many? And that’s how simple it is. That’s how you rationalism of making the choice between the mission and the men.”

Reiben: “Hey captain, what about you. I mean you don’t gripe at all?”

Miller: “I don’t gripe to you, Reiben. I’m a captain. There’s a chain of command. Gripes go up, not down. Always up. You gripe to me, I gripe to my officers, so on, so on and so on. I don’t gripe to you, I don’t gripe in front of you.”

As they moved towards the location where Ryan was supposed to be, they found an ambush site with a machine gun. MIller decided to take down the ambush site with only eight men in the team. The men were concerned of the task as it could mean a suicidal mission.

Mellish: “We can still skip and accomplish our mission. I mean this isn’t our mission, right sir?”

Miller: “Oh that’s what you want to do, Mellish? You just want to leave it here so that they can ambush the next company that comes along?”

I love the movie very much, as much as I watched it the first time. So I tried to draw his portrait out of own interest and practice, but I think there is still much room for improvement.

04.10.2020

Francis Lim

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