Monday, May 26, 2008

General George C. Marshall: Loyalty, trust, and integrity

A friend sent me a link to an article from a 1973 military journal about loyalty.  The author, Captain Michael Wheeler, a professor at the U.S. Air Force Academy, contends that loyalty is "primarily a function of trust, and that trust is usually given if integrity is perceived in the object of one’s trust."

In the author's view, it's integrity that inspires loyalty.  So, how is "integrity" defined?  He equates integrity with moral sensitivity, writing that someone with integrity has:

" impartial point of view, an active concern for others, and a disciplined attempt to meet the claims made on one’s behavior. These are the marks of the morally sensitive man, and they constitute a large part of what we ordinarily mean when we speak of personal integrity. These qualities are found in great leaders in any age..."

The most successful coaches, over time, tend to be men of integrity.  As Captain Wheeler writes:

"A man may obey you if he is afraid of you, but his obedience is a weak and fleeting thing. Remove the immediate grounds of his fear and you have removed his sole reason for obeying. But if that same man is loyal to you, his obedience will have been insured in a much more lasting way, for the attitude of loyalty is a stronger stimulus than the attitude of fear."

The author uses General George C. Marshall (pictured above) as an example of a man who was able to consistently inspire loyalty from his troops.   Marshall's biographer wrote that the General:

"...believed in a discipline based on respect rather than fear; ‘on the effect of good example given by officers; on the intelligent comprehension by all ranks of why an order has to be and why it must be carried out; on a sense of duty, on esprit de corps."

Captain Wheeler lists three reasons why Marshall was able to inspire loyalty:

"First, Marshall valued loyalty. Second, he was recognized by friend and foe alike as a man of imposing moral integrity. And third, in the major war of this century, Marshall passed the ultimate military test of the commander: he brought his nation victory."