There is one particular scene from Mel Gibson’s 2002 movie, We Were Soldiers, that has an important truth for us as leaders, especially for those who lead or work alongside the millennial (those born between 1980-2005).
Mel Gibson plays Army Lt. Colonel Hal Moore, who commands the 7th Calvary during the Vietnam War. This particular unit was responsible for blitzing the enemy by transporting soldiers via helicopter right onto right onto the most dangerous front-line battlefields. The Army 7th Calvary was known for its aggressive and very dangerous strategies during the Vietnam War. This particular unit would be consistently led onto what could be called the “depths of hell” during the Vietnam War.
The following video is a powerful speech by Lt. Colonel Hal Moore right before they leave for Vietnam. Knowing full well that his troops would be landing under fire, and that casualties would be expected, Army Lt. Colonel Hal takes a unique approach to motivating and embodying trust for his men.
Take a moment to watch this video here: Lt. Colonel Hal Moore’s Speech (or click on the image below):
“I will be the first person to set foot on the field, and I will be the last to step off, and I will leave no one behind …”
Imagine as an employee that your leader embodied this value. “We are going to do this work together.” The “I’ve got your back” mentality displays the high levels of trust and admiration between the leader and the employee. In their book The Leadership Challenge, Kouzes and Posner describe this trait of leadership as “Modeling the Way”.
“Modeling the Way” establishes principles concerning the way people should be treated and the way goals should be pursued. They create standards of excellence and then set an example for others to follow.
Particularly for the millennial workforce, this approach to leadership resonates very strongly. From my years of working with and hiring the millennial generation, I have noticed they want to “do work together”. The millennial wants the relationship connection, they want to be mentored, and they value work that has variety, as well as opportunities for personal growth. Compensation, while important for the millennial, does not hold the same weight as it did for their parents.
Through relationships that “Model the Way”, we can “pull along” the millennial to develop professionally. Additionally, we can also come alongside the millennial to fill their needs for connecting and feeling valued. I have seen the results of this kind of leadership which has a profound effect on the millennial, as well as on their contribution to the organization. In fact, as a millennial myself, I can attest to the positive example that this type of leadership engenders.
As the millennial continues to enter the workforce, let’s embody an approach to leadership that “Models the Way”. Let’s come alongside our colleagues and say, “I’ve got your back, let’s do this together … And I will never leave you behind.”
In the words of Mel Gibson, “Let’s Do War, Together.”
(p.s. Thanks to Eric Bruntmyer who initially shared this story with me, it still has meaning all of these years later).
1,188 total views, 1 views today