In this edition we look at the different leadership styles used in the series 'Band of Brothers'. The first video shows what can be described as a very difficult leadership style used by Captain Herbert Sobel. The second is the very successful and inspirational leadership used by Lieutenant Dick Winters. Toxic leadership can be described as the behaviour of a leader who puts their own well-being first while destroying the well-being of everyone underneath them; the type of person who would stand on the neck of their troops if it meant a single 'well done' from their own superiors. Toxic leadership is not 'Sergeant said something mean to me one time!' It is not 'Sergeant had to punish me when I messed up!' And it is not 'Sergeant made me do military things!' Toxic leadership is like bad art. You can’t quite nail down how to perfectly define it, but when you see it – you know.
The two YouTube clips below depict scenes from the series. Allow 10 minutes for soldiers to view the clip and then you can either use the questions below to create a discussion or come up with your own questions.
Captain Sobel was the Commander of the best company within the 2/506 Parachute Infantry Regiment and many of his soldiers commented, post WW2, that he should be given credit and praise for hardening them into steely-faced warriors allowing them to survive the horrors of war. Did Sobel have a personality that just rubbed people the wrong way or was his leadership toxic?
- What is the difference between toxic leadership and hard training?
- Do you have any examples where your team may have had to deal with toxic leadership?
- What actions can you take when you have to deal with toxic leadership?
- What sort of a leader do you think you will be?
Reflection is an important element of learning. It allows us to consider theories or events, and understand how they might apply to us. At the completion of the QME activity have your team reflect using the 'what, so what, now what' process.
- WHAT did I learn from considering this scenario?
- SO WHAT am I going to do about what I’ve learned?
- NOW WHAT does that learning mean for my own practice as a military professional?
If you enjoyed this activity, why not try the other QMEs available on The Cove?
The information in this package is designed to help junior commanders to develop and deliver PME in the unit environment. If you have suggestions for improvements – additional readings or reference material, alternative discussion points, new delivery methods – or if you just want to provide feedback, please contact the Cove Team via email@example.com.