Black Hawk Down - Leadership and Management : Stress

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Leaders need to remain calm during conditions of stress, chaos, and rapid change says Thomas Matthews, retired U.S. Army Colonel, commander of the aviation force during the mission in Mogadishu, Somalia better known as “Black Hawk Down.” Stress has many ways of effecting leadership, sometimes it benefits a leader and other times it is detrimental to them and others. The experienced leaders, ones who maintain a positive attitude, will overcome and adapt to stress because they are always thinking: “The glass is half full; we’ll figure it out; we’ll handle it; we’ll survive the situation.”There are many examples of the effects of stress in the story of “Black Hawk Down.” Stress can bring out the leader in someone who is comfortable with following, the slightest feeling of panic or crisis situation causes some to take charge. This is viewed as a beneficial effect of stress. When a subordinate sees a lack of professional competence of their commander, during a combat condition or crisis situation, the majority tend to fall away from obeying them, afraid of being put in a fatal action. Therefore, leaders rise in times of crisis, stress, combat because they feel a sense of rightness, ready to act, no matter the cause or price. In the story “Black Hawk Down” there were a number of wrong turns and delays of the convoy of Humvees due to full on stress directed by wild groups of Somalis. McKnight, one of the commanders of the convoy, was on the radio during the traveling from crash site to target building when they made their wrong turns. In the dialog written in the Leadership and Management NROTC book, his word usage and alliteration shows how much stress was affecting their mission. This is a detrimental example of stress and its effectiveness. Overcoming and adapting to stress is ‘like passing through a barrier’ says Private Carlson, a soldier involved with the

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