'Beyond the Executive Comfort Zone'

Introduction to the First Chapter

 

 Chapter 1

Note: The first chapter of this book is available for free. It was initially written as a stand alone story describing a unique style of leadership training. Please click on the book cover to receive FREE... 'Shake 'em-Wake 'em-Make 'em a Team' .

Now... continue the journey with the original participants in this third chapter reading. It continues the training of these Executive VP's as the authors utilized 'Disruptive Training' tactics to move the VP's out of their comfort zone onto the battlefield at Gettysburg. Read this story plus many other adventures in 'Beyond the Executive Comfort Zone'.

Chapter 2

Describes the group tour of NASA and the strategic thinking brought into play when putting a 'man on the moon'. A great read about the three days spent behind the scenes at NASA's Houston Complex.

 

* Continue this unique training story in Chapter 3 - 'Beyond the Executive Comfort Zone'

 

Chapter 3

We now continue our training journey when the group takes to the Battlefield to learn the hard decisions made by the Generals of the North vs South when they fought each other at the Battle of Gettysburg.

The Ultimate Decision - The Battle of Gettysburg

unnamedFor our next session, in keeping with our goal of using outrageous tactics to achieve breakthrough performance, we traveled to a battlefield of the Civil War, that resonates with the American spirit like no other. In three fateful days in July of 1863, more than 50,000 soldiers were wounded or killed during the Battle of Gettysburg. 

Today, 150 years later, Gettysburg is a leadership laboratory. Individuals from all branches of the military come to the battlefield to study the actions of those who led and bled there, as do countless executives from the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. GIC’s vice presidents have traveled to Gettysburg to do the same.

For this session, we worked with the U.S. Strategic Leadership Center, whose “Leadership Experience at Gettysburg” program enabled our executives to delve deeply into the lessons to be learned at Gettysburg while exploring their relevance to contemporary leadership challenges.

Frank wanted his team to utilize the Gettysburg Battlefield as well as the modern-day military experience to clarify the differences between an operational perspective and a strategic one. He wanted them to understand how these historic and modern leaders were able to stay focused on the ultimate goal and avoid succumbing to the emotions attached to losing friends, family, and loved ones. At the same time, he wanted his VPs to realize that all decisions have consequences. Even though they may not have to make literal “do or die” decisions, they will at times have to pay a tough price for the decisions they do make.

 

The Ultimate Decision: Arriving into the Past

We charge into Gettysburg not on horses but in an air-conditioned bus. As we enter the heart of town, we drove down cobblestone streets flanked by circa 1800 colonial-style homes. We gaze at pubs touting the best ale, at storefronts displaying Union and Confederate flags, and at locals dressed in breeches and old-fashioned skirts. Clearly, we’ve taken a step back in time.

As we pull up to our hotel, we are met by Robert Monahan of the U.S. Strategic Leadership Center. Headquartered in Gettysburg, Robert and his team of high-ranking military generals and seasoned Gettysburg historians have created a program designed to take the universal lessons of this pivotal battle and apply them to those facing leadership challenges in today’s corporate world. They will introduce the leaders of GIC to the lead players in the battle and conduct our tour of the battlefields.

To prepare for this session, the VPs have read two contentbooks: Killer Angels by Michael Shaara and Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin, both extensive depictions of the Civil War, Gettysburg, and Abraham Lincoln’s critical decisions. They have also been asked to prepare a ten-minute presentation about a pivotal decision they’ve made that has impacted their leadership journeys. Specifically, we asked them to think about:

  • Why/how the decision came about
  • What factors they considered in making the decision
  • What process they used
  • The outcome of their decision

 

Lorraine Sets the Scene

Frank welcomes everyone back to the third session of our six-part journey. He reminds them that this session is about:

  • Becoming stronger decision makers
  • Being more effective as a team when they are under fire
  • Instilling confidence and trust in their teams regardless of circumstances
  • Practicing good communication, especially under challenging conditions

 

Frank explains that he chose a military battleground for this session because there is no better learning environment for studying decision making than when human lives are at stake.

Before turning the meeting over to Rita and me, he explains the importance of measuring the progress of each individual undergoing this journey. Thus, he tells the VPs that a measurement assessment will be introduced during this training session.

After welcoming everyone to the session, Rita and I lead a discussion about the structure of decision making. We remind GIC’s executives that there are four levels to be aware of when making a decision, and we ask them to consider a number of questions in each level:

  • Individual: At this level, what thought process do I use to make decisions? What are my risk and confidence levels? Are most of my decisions emotional or rational?
  • Relational: At this level, how do my decisions impact others personally and professionally? Am I getting the desired results?
  • Managerial: At this level, am I making the kind of decisions that advance the company? Am I adding value and managing people and resources like an owner?
  • Organizational: At this level, how is the company being impacted by these decisions or lack thereof? Are we as a leadership team collectively making the optimal decisions that best support the organization’s goals and vision?

 

We now ask the VPs to share their presentations about a memorable decision they made during their leadership journeys, filtering them through these four levels.

One story involves the lack of due diligence that occurred when a VP suggested opening a new branch. When the plan was presented, Frank asked pointed questions that the VP could not answer due to his failure to do the proper strategic analysis. Frank realized the VP was not ready to take on the responsibility of adding a branch and turned his request down. The VP had clearly not thought through the managerial and organizational levels.

Another VP remembers a decision made by his boss to switch his territory with that of another VP. This is memorable to him not because of the actual decision but because of his personal reaction to it. Rather than considering how this decision benefitted the organization, he was only concerned that it would make him look bad.

One of the VPs talks about a decision he made after completing the Magical Mystery Tour. With his newfound courage, he went to Frank with the recommendation that GIC close a branch. This subject had always been taboo. After all, wouldn’t closing a branch mean failure? To this individual’s surprise, his ability to think strategically and present a credible case won Frank’s approval and the branch was closed. Valuable resources were then reallocated to other branches. This VP had clearly used the decision-making structure to thoroughly evaluate the situation and come up with an appropriate solution.

When all the VPs have shared their stories, Rita and I introduce the assessment model that Frank mentioned in his opening remarks. With it, the VPs will gauge their success in this training program. There are four key areas of measurement:

  • Leading the business: Showing sound judgment, strategy, ownership mentality, analyzing results.
  • Leading others: Displaying a talent mindset, communicating, inspiring commitment.
  • Leading by personal example: Self-directed and showing accountability, courage, credibility, learning.
  • Leading into the future: Demonstrating strategic direction, learning, resourcefulness.

 

We ask the VPs to rate themselves in each of the four areas. Beside each of the areas is a gauge, much like a fuel gauge. The first third of the gauge is red, indicating a lack of proficiency. The second third of the gauge is yellow, indicating a challenge. The final third of the gauge is green, indicating proficiency in this area. The VPs are instructed to take the gauges back to their rooms and rate themselves in each area. On the last day, they will take turns standing in front of their peers to discuss their ratings and receive feedback from the team.

We then leave the room and head to an onsite theatre to watch the movie Fields of Freedom. This in-house production gives an overview of the Battle of Gettysburg.

After the movie, retired Major General Jack Davis, a member of the U.S. Strategic Leadership Center, treats us to “Civil War 101.” General Davis’ distinguished forty-year infantry military career as a Marine officer spanned service from Vietnam to the war on terrorism. He led units at every level from platoon to division and received numerous awards, including the Distinguished Service Medal, Bronze Star with V, and two Purple Hearts.

The general’s fascinating introduction of the players at Gettysburg also gives a big picture overview of the battle and sets a great foundation for our battlefield tour scheduled for the next morning.

 

VPs’ Thoughts and Comments

  • I figured at some point we would need a report card to measure our progress. Although I don’t particularly like evaluations, this one is different since I get to rate myself. It will be interesting to see what my fellow VPs have to say.
  • From the moment I knew we were coming to Gettysburg, I read everything I could get my hands on about that battle. I’m a war buff and have really been looking forward to this time in Gettysburg. Robert Monahan and General Davis were a real treat. Their talks reinforced what I have read – that Gettysburg was one of the most important battles of the Civil War.
  • Fields of Freedom was a good way to start our journey at Gettysburg. Nothing says it like a movie. It set a good foundation and got us all on the same page.
  • I was honored to meet General Davis. Military heroes are near and dear to my heart, as my dad was a decorated veteran of World War II.

Frank’s Observations

After our great experience at NASA, I was looking for an even more profound “next” session. I wanted the VPs to focus on decision making in the ultimate environment – war. As business leaders, we typically never have to make what I call “the ultimate decision,” the one that military leaders have been making for centuries, the one that means life or death. Nonetheless, if we could understand the thinking behind that kind of decision making, we could apply it to our own highly challenging environment.

I initially thought about flying everyone to England and going through a private session at Churchill’s WWII war room. From there, we could go to the staging area of the D-Day invasion and take the ferry over to Normandy, walk the beaches of the invasion, and visit the cemetery. The final leg would take us to a concentration camp before returning home. Unfortunately, such a trip was cost prohibitive.

Having studied the Civil War extensively, my second choice for the session was Gettysburg. Lorraine and Rita found the Strategic Leadership Center, and our decision was made. We had a perfect location for the study of leadership decision making, and this time, it was practically in my backyard.

 

The Ultimate Decision: On the Battlefield

The next morning, day two, we board a bus with “General Jack” as we now fondly call him and battlefield guide expert Terry Fox to spend the day on the battlegrounds. Terry, a former American history teacher and adjunct professor at Gettysburg College, is a sixth-generation resident of Gettysburg and battlefield guide emeritus with Gettysburg National Military Park.

 

Lorraine Sets the Scene

Our day is spent stopping at key battlefield locations to:

  • Illustrate strategic thinking by discussing how important it is to gain a comprehensive understanding of the landscape; as such, we emphasize the concept of “high ground,” literally and figuratively.
  • Talk about strategic thinking and decision making by using the challenges of the battlefield to emphasize asking questions about what needs to be changed, adapted, or reinvented in order to move forward.
  • Discuss strategic thinking in the context of developing contingency plans, using the battlefield to provide illustrations of success and lack of it.
  • Explore the implications of intelligence, or the absence of it, for success in strategic decision making. More specifically, we discuss how Robert E. Lee, the master strategist, went into battle absent Stonewall Jackson, his former right-hand man/tactician, and minus the intelligence his cavalry, under J. E. B. Stuart, could have provided.

 

We stop at key battlefield locations such as Cemetery Hill, Little Round Top, and McPherson Ridge, walk through the fields at Pickett’s Charge, and end up at the Gettysburg National Cemetery. As General Jack and Terry Fox describe the battle in detail, it’s hard not to feel transported back in time.

The mesmerized VPs begin to feel a little of the pressure the Civil War soldiers felt. The day is warm, and by the time we walk through the unplowed field to the end of Pickett’s Charge, dodging gopher holes, maneuvering high weeds, and noting the harsh sun and lack of shade, we can only imagine how the soldiers must have felt. We at least can shed our jackets. They had to run through the blistering July temperature in full uniform, carrying their loaded guns while burdened with heavy packs on their backs.

The leadership lessons are rich, and we couldn’t be in better hands. Not only do General Jack and Terry have superb knowledge of the battlefield event, but their tie-in to modern corporate leadership is right on target.

VPs’ Thoughts and Comments

  • Hearing about how these leaders were able to motivate their frightened, exhausted troops is a lesson in true leadership. Sometimes these leaders were in the trenches; many times they led the charge. True leaders understand that you must be willing to work alongside your “troops” to be trusted and have credibility.
  • The battlefield experience with Terry and Jack was more emotional and moving than I expected. I have a new level of respect for the price that was paid for the survival of our nation.
  • Standing on Little Round Top and having Terry arrange the group into the position of Chamberlain’s line as he prepared his men for the bayonet charge gave me a profound perspective on the meaning of courage.
  • Walking Pickett’s Charge with Terry as he made comments enriched the experience. He stopped us halfway to look at how far we had come and how far we still had to go. He stopped us at the bottom of one of the rolling hills and pointed out how, in this position, we were essentially blind to both the Confederate and Union lines. We stopped at the top of Cemetery Ridge where General Armistead was shot, and Terry pointed out that only about a hundred men out of the thousands in the charge actually made it, only to be captured.
  • I was impressed with the fact that Chamberlain held off several Confederate advances during the battle of Little Round Top in spite of having little ammunition. When his troops finally ran out of ammunition, Chamberlain personally led a bayonet charge that forced the enemy to retreat down the hill. It just goes to show that people will follow a good leader anywhere.
  • Chamberlain anticipated the enemy’s next move and adjusted his plan accordingly, not allowing them to be flanked, which could have turned the battle around. Understanding the enemy/competition is vital in battle and business.

Frank’s Observations

It was interesting to study the strategy employed by both sides. Experiencing the charge that cost the South the battle, and eventually the war, was made real by physically walking Pickett’s Charge. Both sides made plenty of mistakes. Had the North chased Lee down after the Battle of Gettysburg, the war could have ended then. Instead, allowing him to retreat prolonged the war by two more years, culminating in many more lives lost. In corporate thinking, the same thing applies.

 

The Ultimate Decision: Bringing It to the Real World

Rarely do people stop to think about the process they use to make decisions or how that process – and by extension the results – can be improved. Thus, day three of this session is designed to make the VPs aware of how they individually make decisions. Specifically, we want them to analyze the following questions:

  • Do I gather enough information?
  • When has a decision backfired because I did not take into consideration all angles?
  • Do I take into account emotion versus logic?

 

We will also highlight key decisions made by two corporate giants, Blockbuster Video and Walgreens, and examine how these decisions impacted their success. Finally, that evening, we will invite a special speaker from the Pentagon to share how the decisions she made along the way landed her a top job in Washington, D.C.

 

Lorraine Sets the Scene

To help the VPs understand their own decision-making process, we introduce two new tools. The first tool, the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), is a personality inventory that focuses on how individuals prefer to gather information and make decisions. The second tool is Edward De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats, which highlights how people analyze new information in order to make decisions. The VPs quickly relate to both models and give detailed feedback on how they will take these tools back home and start using them.

We review the decisions made by two separate companies, Blockbuster Video and Walgreens. In the first example, we explain that important insights can come from failure. At its peak, Blockbuster was the largest video rental company in the United States, with stores nationwide. Over the years, the company missed critical opportunities to see the big picture, which ultimately allowed Netflix and Redbox to dominate the market. As a consequence, Blockbuster declared bankruptcy in 2011.

In our second example, we discover how a company founded in 1901 eventually found itself with two distinct divisions, a pharmacy and a highly profitable food services division. Years later, founder Charles “Cork” Walgreen looked at the business from a big picture perspective and asked a single question: what can we be the best at in the world? After much analysis, the company sold its food services division to concentrate on pharmaceuticals and sundries. Walgreens kept its strategy simple, concise, and clear and implemented it with fanatical consistency. Today, Walgreens’ continued success is proof that this decision has served the company well.

We continue showing examples of failures and successes, and an in-depth discussion ensues about whether the VPs are systemic and disciplined or random and reflexive in their decision-making.

VPs’PThoughts and Comments

  • The Myers-Briggs exercise showed me that I tend to gather a lot of information before making a decision. I can see now how sometimes that isn’t good when we need to make decisions quickly.
  • The Six Thinking Hats exercise was interesting. I realize that I always wear a black hat and show negativity toward any new idea. That’s not a bad thing in general, but it does tend to disrupt the flow of creativity when brainstorming.
  • Studying the decisions made by other companies showed me the importance of keeping the big picture in mind. We don’t want to derail GIC by burying our heads in the sand.

 

Frank’s Observations

I was excited to see the VPs embrace the tools that Lorraine and Rita introduced. I will be watching to see if they use them in their future decision making.

The VPs’ discussion after learning about Blockbuster and Walgreens was insightful. The ability to keep the “big picture” in mind hit home with them. They understand now what I have been trying to tell them for a long time…That decisions need to be analyzed from different angles, and that they can and should be resources to each other when considering different options.

 

The Ultimate Decision: Experiencing It Ourselves

After spending time on the battlefield the previous day, we want the team to physically experience a combat zone. We want them to realize the importance of creating a strategy to win and to physically feel the struggle to reach a goal in the midst of chaos and life-threatening activities. Above all, we want them to realize that focus is key.

 

Lorraine Sets the Scene

We board our bus, this time charging into battle at the paintball fields outside of Gettysburg. Our mission: to take the hill and capture the flag. We put everyone’s name in a hat and draw two names to be the leaders. The leaders then pick their teams and don blue and gray t-shirts labeled Meade’s Yanks and Lee’s Rebs. The field owner calls us together and brings in the weapons.

Back in the Civil War, soldiers would have used single shot muzzle-loading long rifles with long-knifed bayonets attached to the barrels. These weapons could fire only one shot before needing to be reloaded, a process that could take up to a minute. The bayonets were used when soldiers ran out of ammunition or had no time to reload.

In our modern paintball field, we use non-lethal weapons that fire round plastic balls full of paint about the size of a thumbnail. When you are hit, the paint explodes and designates a kill. Participants are required to wear face shields and helmets, but unlike in the Civil War, when most hits were fatal, a paintball strike just stings like a bee. In other words, it isn’t fatal, but you still don’t want to be hit.

Before the battle starts, each team is urged to come up with a strategic plan. The first team to take control of the hill and capture the flag wins. Like corporations battling to gain market share, strategy is critical to success. After all, if you get shot, you’re out of the game.

Our leaders assign roles. Some of us will stay behind and cover the faster runners as they zigzag up the hill, trying to avoid enemy fire.

This is a very competitive group, and as soon as the game begins, chaos ensues. It’s hard to see the shooters, but we know they are here as the paintballs come zinging out of nowhere and hit with a thud that nearly takes your breath away. What happened to just a bee sting?

Within minutes, it’s over. One team has captured the flag and is reveling in victory. Before we can catch our breath, we are on to yet another battle, and then another. The final battle culminates with team members standing side by side, paint guns in hand, facing the opposing team across a field. The two groups walk towards each other, shooting at the opposing team in an attempt to take them all down. There is no protection, no camouflage. They simply line up side by side and start walking towards one another, each side shooting to kill.

This is reminiscent of our walk up Pickett’s Charge the previous day, and it’s unnerving. As person after person is hit and falls, eventually only two people remain. The rest have all died. The Battle of Gettysburg was real.

That evening, we hear from a special guest speaker, Deputy Director, Acquisition, Johanna “Jody” Gooby, in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. As a former navy pilot and mission commander of the EP-3 Aries Aircraft, she led many intelligence/ reconnaissance missions for the Department of Defense, was involved in the deployment of aircraft in support of operations like Desert Storm, Southern Watch, and Enduring Freedom, and eventually was asked to work at the Pentagon. As she talked, it became obvious that Jody has been involved in many critical decisions, both behind the scenes and in action. It also became clear that, regardless of whether you are in corporate America, on the battlefield, or fighting your way up the ranks, the ability to make good decisions is the difference between winning and losing.

The main point of Jody’s story was that at the core of her decision making, whether career or personal, only two things mattered: logic and heart. When she failed to use both, her decisions were not as solid.

VPs’PThoughts and Comments

  • I’ve played paintball before, but having just come off the battlefields at Gettysburg, it was different. Paintball’s always just been a game to me, but this time it felt so much more real. I immediately related to the soldiers who marched up Pickett’s Charge. It gave me a much better understanding of what they went through.
  • The paintball experience was great, mostly because my team was victorious for most of the battles. The reason for that was planning and leadership. Before we headed into battle, we created a game plan that we executed flawlessly. Our opponents merely charged at the flag with no plan or visible leadership. As you would expect, they failed.
  • This exercise was perfect. It made my experience the day before come to life. As we sat there like sitting ducks, it was not a good feeling. I felt exposed and vulnerable, and I couldn’t believe there was nowhere to hide.
  • I consider myself extremely competitive, but when we got out there, face to face with our colleagues, I found myself feeling bad that I was going to “kill” my fellow team members. It must have been how the soldiers in the Civil War felt when asked to fight against family members and friends.
  • Jody brought a great perspective on decision making, using both logic and heart. I can relate to her stories of neglecting one or the other and not making good decisions as a result.

 

Frank’s Observations

The paintball battle was the perfect exercise to engage in the day after the battlefield tour. It brought the struggle at Gettysburg to life. As we donned our gear and charged up hills together to fight an enemy we couldn’t see, we felt like we were in the midst of Pickett’s Charge, running to capture the high ground. Minds focused, adrenaline rushing, we were laser focused on one thing – capturing the flag. There was no turning back. It was do or die.

The two teams had different strategies. One used a core strategy that included encircling the other team, and they won the first few games. The other team charged forward without a circling flank and individuals “died” quickly. In the second battle, the other team charged the flag and captured it but lost three key players in the process. They were glad they’d won, but losing three key commanders came back to haunt them later.

After the final battle, only two individuals were left standing. Clearly, they paid a high price for their victory. Was it worth it? Correlating the exercise to our company, when making decisions, we have to consider the price we will pay to attain the goal. It’s all about strategy, communication, and dedication to the mission. In war, there can only be one winner.

 

The Ultimate Decision: Wrapping It Up

We’ve been together for three days learning about strategic decision making. We have studied how the decisions made by the Northern and Southern leaders affected the outcome of the battle.

On this final day, we want to go back to the big picture and measure the effect these training sessions have had on the VPs. The Magical Mystery Tour was a wake-up call to make them realize that things needed to change. The Odyssey showed them that impossible goals are possible, if the necessary change takes place. Now, Gettysburg is helping them realize that all decisions have consequences.

The team is now at a point where we can begin to measure the effectiveness of this unique training. After all, we developed this entire program with the goal of changing the behavior of the VPs.

According to training measurement expert Donald Kirkpatrick, the ultimate goal of any training program is to transfer learning to action that will benefit the company.

The gauges indicating the four areas to which the VPs will be held accountable will tell each individual where he currently excels and where he is deficient. From now until the end of all the sessions, these gauges will be the standard by which everyone can measure individual progress. We want GIC’s executives to not only be aware of their own proficiencies but also to see the big picture in the form of their entire team’s strengths so that they can complement one another. This will be the true test of the effectiveness of their training. In this way, Frank’s investment can show a monetary return.

 

Lorraine Sets the Scene

On our first day in Gettysburg, we gave each VP a handout of the measurement pillars and asked them to do a self-evaluation. Again, the four pillars this evaluation consisted of included:

  • Leading the business: Showing sound judgment, strategy, ownership mentality, analyzing results.
  • Leading others: Displaying a talent mindset, communicating, inspiring commitment.
  • Leading by personal example: Self-directed and showing accountability, courage, credibility, learning.
  • Leading into the future: demonstrating strategic direction, learning, resourcefulness.

 

Each VP now stands up and reviews his gauges with the group, and the group gives feedback. Frank remains a silent observer in this exercise because he wants to see what the group thinks. Good discussion ensues as the VPs ask for feedback from the audience. The surprise is that the VPs are harder on themselves than others are on them. In fact, in several instances, the feedback they receive causes them to move their gauges to a higher level.

After the presentations, Rita and I hand out a form for a Personal Development Plan (PDP). Each VP then spends time filling in the areas he wants to work on per the discussion that just occurred. The last part of the PDP asks each individual to choose an “accountability partner” from amongst his fellow VPs to help him stay on track. From here on out, each VP will meet with his partner monthly to discuss his progress.

After the PDP session, everyone receives a Learning and Development Toolkit. This twenty-page document is a historical recap of all the training workshops, sessions, and tools the VPs have received in the last four years and is designed to be a resource as they work on their PDPs.

The toolkit also includes a list of the more than fifty books (see the Recommended Resources section at the back of the book for an abbreviated version of this list) GIC’s leadership team has read as a group. While they realize that Frank has given them a lot of resources and learning opportunities, receiving this toolkit really brings it home.

As we close our session at Gettysburg and board our bus back to the airport, we are all thinking about the consequence of decisions made in the ultimate setting – war. The VPs realize they still have a lot of work to do to reach their ultimate goal of becoming the best performing team possible for GIC. They now realize their proficiency as a team has a huge impact on their individual level of capability. Their individual gauges show their personal strengths and weaknesses. By looking at the cumulative team gauges, we can build a stronger team, but this will require accountability.

 

VPs’ Thoughts and Comments

  • I have to say that my trip to Gettysburg will always be a highlight of my life. You can see pictures or read books and even watch shows on television, but there is no greater experience than to walk the same battlefields that our ancestors fought so bravely for. You actually start visualizing yourself walking in their shoes with a row of cannons firing at you and what that must have been like as you get closer and closer.
  • This was a great lesson in situational decision making and strategic leadership. No amount of reading could have replaced this experience.
  • My primary takeaway from all of this was that my business decisions pale in comparison to the decisions the generals at Gettysburg faced.

 

Frank’s Observations

In this Gettysburg experience, the VPs were exposed to the harsh realities of war. By studying the battle plans, the VPs experienced how these decisions were made and what price was paid to gain the high ground. More than 50,000 soldiers were wounded or killed in only three days.

While we at GIC will never have to make these ultimate decisions, we still need to make the best decisions we can with the data we have. We can play the “what if” game to death, but eventually we have to make decisions and move forward following a strategic plan. With the ultimate goal always in mind, we have to be continually alert to new data and quick to alter our plans when things change.

This session taught us a lot about ourselves and especially about how we make decisions. Studying the Battle of Gettysburg went beyond the three days of fighting. It showed how the critical decisions made at Gettysburg impacted not only the outcome of the Civil War but had far-reaching consequences for the nation as a whole. Gettysburg turned out to be a great strategic decision-making stage upon which to learn.

 

Fit for Life

With the lessons of Gettysburg freshly etched in our hearts and minds, we decided it was time to push the executives’ limits in a different way. This time, our goal was to achieve breakthrough results through the heretofore overlooked components of spiritual and physical fitness.

 

Key Questions Inspired by the Ultimate Decision

  • Does your team continually analyze its direction in order to ensure your goal is kept in mind?
  • Are your executives themselves questions such as, “Does what I am doing fit into the bigger picture?”
  • Like Lee, who went into battle without all the information he desperately needed, are your executives overlooking situations that might cause a fatal flaw in your mission?
  • Are your executives willing to look at themselves and admit when they are off track?
  • Like the Gettysburg generals who made life and death decisions, are your leaders capable of making tough choices?
  • Are they capable of practicing good communication under stressful situations?
  • How do you measure your leaders’ performance?

The paintball exercise reinforced the need for team strategy as well as how important, yet vulnerable, each team member truly is. Are your teams physically and mentally equipped to replace leadership roles as necessary?

 

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