By Joseph Skarbowski, U.S. Army Communications-Electronics CommandMay 25, 2018
Learning about leadership theory in a classroom can be enlightening. Learning about leadership from a historical perspective, and walking the grounds where that leadership influenced our Nation's history, is a totally different and rewarding experience.
On May 15, 2018, the senior leadership and staff of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command Software Engineering Center Intelligence, Electronic Warfare, and Sensors Directorate took their latest leadership development session to the grounds of Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine in the Baltimore Harbor. With a focus on learning how to best apply available resources to gain a strategic advantage, the directorate's leaders and staff explored the styles, leadership traits, and battlefield decisions of seven key United States and British military and political leaders who influenced the outcome of the War of 1812's Chesapeake Campaign and the Battle of Baltimore.
Prior to the visit to Fort McHenry, Mr. Michael Crapanzano, the Directorate's Associate Director, assigned specific leaders, such as American General Sam Smith and Major George Armistead, as well as British Admiral George Cockburn and General Robert Ross, to each member of the group for research and presentation to other group members in the Fort McHenry Education Room. Following these reports, the group examined strategic aspects, leadership qualities and characteristics of those involved in the campaign of defense of Baltimore Harbor as they toured the fort and its surrounding grounds. Discussions also focused on how those leadership qualities and characteristics influenced those who won and lost at the Battle of Baltimore, as well the applicability of those lessons to the opportunities we see today.
Following the tour, the group concluded their session by returning to the Education Room for a short class centered on overcoming resource shortfalls, since history demonstrates that the amount of resources you have does not correlate to winning, but more importantly how you use and lead the resources. Prior to leaving, Crapanzano extended the directorate's gratitude to the National Park Service staff at the Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine by presenting both a Memorandum and Certificate of Appreciation to Park Ranger Nicolette Talley, Fee Program Manager and Special Park Use Coordinator.
Crapanzano stated "The value of using history to educate today's leaders cannot be overstated, since the real value of history is to use the lessons to prepare us for the future challenges and opportunities we will face. We can learn a great deal from those past figures leadership and characteristics in shaping and ensuring successful outcomes."
This session at Fort McHenry was a continuation of an internal leadership development program that Mr. Crapanzano began in June of 2015 for the directorate. Over the course of the past three years, he and his senior leaders and staff have explored a variety of topics to include Army Culture and Values, the Army Leadership Model, Ethics, Decision Making, Effective Communication, Critical Conversations, and Change Management. Additionally, the visit to Fort McHenry was the second time the group examined leadership in conjunction with a historical site, having researched both Union and Confederate leaders from the Battle of Gettysburg which they followed with a staff ride at the Gettysburg National Military Park in November 2015.
Based on the initial positive outcome of his senior leadership training program, Crapanzano has adapted his sessions to the needs of the directorate's branch chiefs and team leads in 2018 as to focus on leadership and the importance of what an Army leader is and must do to be successful in meeting the standards and high expectations of the profession.