If Peter Drucker’s The Effective Executive provides me with any single perspective regarding my future as a Captain in the U.S. Army, it is that authority is ultimately a form of service. For officer or executive, there are qualities which are unique to the positions, certainly. High levels of intelligence, a flexible imagination, a commitment to detail as well as to the bigger picture, and the ability to assess both circumstances and the abilities of others, are all extremely important. The figure of authority lacking in any of these is the authority not likely to fulfill its role well, and I comprehend how it is my obligation to develop these traits within myself to their utmost. Fortunately, a focus on the military inherently reinforces these needs. I would say, in fact, that I am enabled to move forward in this development in ways the organizational executive is not, if only because the military exists in ways transcending typical organizations in importance. It is a construction essential to the preservation of the society, so the motivations to demonstrate these qualities of leadership are founded on a solid imperative. This is the responsibility any officer must fully comprehend and embrace, for a failure to do so carries impacts beyond the individual, and beyond commercial concerns.
This acknowledged, however, Drucker’s work instills in me something of a “foundation beneath the foundation.” I had always believed that pursuing my Army career inherently equated to dedicating my life to service, but I now feel that there is more to this concept of service than I had understood. The true leader, officer or executive, operates from a core of a need to contribute. That this process relies on abilities within the individual, and often not present in others, is irrelevant, because even the most keenly developed abilities serve no real purpose if they are not directed toward a larger goal, or idea of accomplishing something only the individual can accomplish. For me, this then translates to my role as a Captain as being essentially of service, and in a manner not restricted to serving my nation or my superiors. Through Drucker’s book, I perceive that there is an exponential quality to leadership essential for the best and truest manifestations of it. To be the Captain I seek to be, I must fully take into account the real natures of those in my authority, and comprehend what their careers mean to them as I assess their abilities. This does not mean that I deny my role or cater to individual concerns; rather, in gaining this scope, I am all the more enabled to lead because my awareness is expanded. I do not lose sight of my pragmatic obligations, but I realize that furthering the concerns of my people is the best means of fulfilling those obligations. In serving, then, I lead all the more effectively. In increasing my knowledge of all elements within my sphere, I advance the interests of all concerned because I see the importance of each element. The more I contribute of my willingness to learn, the better equipped I am to lead.
As noted, contribution is critical, and I feel that Drucker is correct when he asserts that people rise to the demands made of them when they perceive the same commitment from their leader. It is ironic in a sense, but this book has given me the sense that the key to effective authority lies in an overt and consistent practice of awareness. This in turn is a giving of myself, or form of service. It is, however, the service that supports the authority itself, for it reveals confidence, ability, and an authentic commitment to the greater purpose.