In today’s uncertain and ever-changing world the ability to be flexible and agile in our decision-making is becoming increasingly crucial, especially in times of crisis. One inspiring example of this type of leadership can be seen in the actions of Israeli General Ariel Sharon. Despite lacking direct orders from his commanders, Sharon made a bold decision to lead his division across the Suez Canal, which ultimately led to an Israeli victory.
His decision exemplified the principles of mission command and trust-based leadership in Swedish tillitsbaserad ledning, which emphasize the importance of empowering leaders to make decisions and allowing autonomy and flexibility.
In this newsletter, I will dive deeper into the five key lessons we can learn from Sharon’s actions, and explore how incorporating elements of mission command and trust-based leadership can improve a crisis manager’s ability to respond with agility and flexibility.
“I found that common understanding to be the essential enabler for fastpaced, decentralized operations. But the effort required to attain and maintain that level of shared understanding is remarkable – it takes changing how the entire command processes and shares information – and runs starkly against the grain of most layered command structures and processes – and challenges the desire of many individuals and organizations to control information.” Senior Flag Officer
During the Yom Kippur War of 1973, Israeli General Ariel Sharon made a risky decision that would ultimately lead to a pivotal moment in Israeli military history. At the time, Sharon was a commander of the Israeli Army’s 143rd Armored Division, and his division was stationed on the Sinai Peninsula facing the Suez Canal, a strategically important waterway that separated Egypt from Israel.
On October 6, 1973, the Egyptian military launched a surprise attack on Israeli forces across the canal, catching them off guard and inflicting significant damage. Despite the initial setback, Israeli forces managed to regroup and mount a counterattack, but progress was slow, and the situation was becoming increasingly dire.
It was at this point that Sharon made his fateful decision. Without waiting for orders from his superiors, he decided to lead his division across the Suez Canal, a move that was considered extremely risky and could have resulted in disastrous consequences. But Sharon was known for his decisiveness and his willingness to take risks, and he was confident that his plan could turn the tide of the war.
He then led his division across the canal in the middle of the night, facing heavy resistance from the Egyptian forces. But the move caught the Egyptians off guard, and they were quickly overwhelmed by the Israeli forces.
Sharon’s decision was a calculated risk, but it was also a flexible and adaptive response to the unexpected developments in the battle. By crossing the canal, he was able to take the fight to the enemy and disrupt their plans, ultimately leading to an Israeli victory.
Sharon’s decision was also an example of decentralized decision-making, which allowed for a more effective response to the situation. He trusted in the competence and capabilities of his troops, and by empowering his subordinates to make decisions and take the initiative, he was able to react rapidly and adapt to changing situations.
Sharon’s decision-making process during the Yom Kippur War provides valuable insights into the principles of mission command and trust-based leadership. Here are five lessons we can learn from his bold decision:
📢Clear Communication of Intent📢
Sharon’s decision was made with a clear communication of his intent to his troops, despite not receiving a direct order. This clear communication of intent allowed for a rapid and coordinated response, which proved to be critical in the success of the mission.
By allowing his division to take the initiative, Sharon empowered his subordinates to make decisions and react to the rapidly changing situation. This decision proved that leadership is not just about commanding orders but also about empowering subordinates to make decisions and take calculated risks.
🐫Flexibility and Adaptability🐫
Sharon’s decision to cross the canal was a calculated risk that demonstrated flexibility and adaptability in response to unexpected developments in the battle. This flexibility allowed the Israeli forces to adapt quickly to the situation and gain a strategic advantage.
🤝Trusting in the Competence and Capabilities of the Troops🤝
Sharon’s trust in the competence and capabilities of his troops allowed them to execute the mission successfully. This trust fostered a culture of confidence and encouraged the troops to work harder and go the extra mile, knowing that their efforts were appreciated and valued.
Sharon’s decision was an example of decentralized decision-making, which allowed for a more effective response to the situation. The decision to empower subordinates and decentralize decision-making provided the Israeli forces with greater agility, flexibility, and adaptability.
These lessons illustrate the benefits of implementing mission command and tillitsbaserad ledning in crisis management. By empowering leaders and teams to make decisions, react rapidly, and adapt to changing situations, while fostering a culture of trust in the competence of their troops, organizations can enhance their ability to respond to crises effectively.
In conclusion, Ariel Sharon’s decision during the Yom Kippur War was a pivotal moment in Israeli military history and a testament to his decision-making and risk-taking abilities. By taking the initiative and leading his division across the Suez Canal, he was able to disrupt the enemy’s plans and ultimately lead Israel to victory. His decision serves as a powerful example of the benefits that can be gained from implementing Mission Command and Tillitsbaserad Ledning in crisis management.
I hope this post has provided you with valuable insights into the principles of mission command and trust-based leadership. As always, I look forward to hearing your thoughts and reflections.