As important as are credentials character matters more.
Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain wrote, “We know not the future, and cannot plan for it much. But we can determine and know what manner of men we will be whenever and wherever the hour strikes.”
Chamberlain was commander of the 20th Regiment of Infantry, Maine Volunteers that defended Little Round Top, just outside Gettysburg, on July 2, 1863 – 150 years ago today. With no bullets left, his troops depleted from 478 to a mere 200, they fixed bayonets and charged down the hill routing the men of the 15th Alabama led by Colonel Oates, taking twice their number in rebel prisoners, thus stymieing the Confederate push.
Oates, who saw his own brother die in the battle, would later write, “There never were harder fighters than the Twentieth Maine men and their gallant colonel” (“The Leadership Moment,” by Michael Useem).
Every year Useem takes his students from the Warton School’s Center for Leadership and Change Management, of which Useem is the director, to this historic site of the battle for Little Round Top to reflect on the lessons of leadership.
“Character,” wrote William Bennis “is as vital in a leader as drive and competence. It is not enough for a leader to do things right; he must do the right thing” (“On Becoming A Leader”).