Major Winters & What Makes A Good Leader

Major Richard Winters was an officer of the United States Army and a veteran of the Second World War. He commanded the Easy Company of the 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment which was a part of the 101st Airborne Division. The actions of the company and of Major Winters were portrayed in the HBO mini-series Band of Brothers.

Major Winters would receive many honors and medals which included a Purple Heart, Bronze Star and a Distinguished Service Cross which is the second highest military award that can be given to a member of the United States Army. Additionally, Major Winters was awarded the Freedom Medal & Freedom from Fear Medal from the Roosevelt Institute.

The success of the HBO mini-series Band of Brothers prompted Major Winters to tell his own story using his own words and this resulted in the book, Beyond Band of Brothers. In this war memoir, Major Winters recounts his childhood, his training, the events that took place during the war and all the heroic men that came together and persevered hardship as a single unit. One theme that runs throughout the book is the importance of leadership. Proper leadership can bring men together and lessen the number of possible casualties. Improper leadership can cause selfishness and disorder and can result in a higher number of casualties along with the failure to achieve one’s objective. Major Winters understood this notion as well as anyone and in doing so, he was able to culminate certain leadership principles which were a direct result of his own experiences as a leader and his observations of other leaders in the army.

  1. Strive to be a leader of character, competence, and courage

  2. Lead from the Front. Say, “Follow me!” and then lead the way.

  3. Stay in top physical shape. Physical stamina is the root of mental toughness.

  4. Develop your team. If you know your people, are fair in setting realistic goals and expectations and lead by example, you will develop teamwork.

  5. Delegate responsibility to your subordinates and let them do their jobs. You can’t do a good job if you don’t have a chance to use your imagination or your creativity.

  6. Anticipate problems and prepare to overcome obstacles. Don’t wait until you get to the top of the ridge and then make up your mind.

  7. Remain humble. Don’t worry about who receives the credit. Never let power or authority go to your head.

  8. Take a moment of self-reflection. Look at yourself in the mirror every night and ask yourself if you did your best.

  9. True satisfaction comes from getting the job done. The key to a successful leader is to earn respect and not because of rank or position, but because you are a leader of character.

  10. Hang Tough! Never, ever, give up.

A leader is essentially an individual who leads by example and who does not ask others to do something that they would not do themselves. In this manner, the leader must have both moral and physical courage to act in the correct way. A leader understands the implication of his or her actions and is willing to live with the consequences and additionally, a leader perseveres through the bad and the rough, allowing neither thing to break them.

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