History in the Fleet

The practice of observing and learning from history can be an extremely valuable tool for current society. As officers in training, it is imperative that we learn and make connections from the past in order to be the most informed possible when making decisions that impact the people we lead. We will have the lives of sailors and marines in the palms of our hands when we hit the fleet. In order to make the highest quality decisions Confucius says, “He who by resisting the old knows the new, is fit to be a teacher” (Confucius Analects 2.11). This is a direct translation of my previous point and I believe there is a reason that people have been implementing the practice of learning from others mistakes and success for thousands of years. However, learning the past can also contain a negative outcome by the way one translates it for themselves. For example, many of Confucius’s writings have been taken out of context and are incredibly general. This consequently has caused predecessors to disagree with each other over the way his philosophy should be followed. It is important that all available facts are explored without biases when evaluating history.  

            The culture and way that a specific leader conducted himself stood out to me when I think of some moments of history that I can take and implement into my leadership ability in the fleet. The leader that stands out and civilization is Phillip II from Macedonia. The thing that I think is most important about Phillip and the culture of the Macedonian army is how they implemented the “first among equals” mentality and practice. This is incredibly important to take down as a lesson in leadership especially when you are the one in charge of multiple people. Your subordinates should respect the higher rank but at the same time, they should not feel intimidated or of lesser quality or skill to their superior. This can cause an extreme amount of discourse between a leader and his men and women subordinates. For example, when Alexander took over, and went on his military campaign he began to become cocky and his men resented him for that. With more power that came to the throne of Alexander, the more his accomplishments went to his head. On the contrary, when Phillip II fought alongside his men, he continued to uplift them and reward them. He never ordered his men into a fight that he was not willing to get involved with alongside them. The proved extremely beneficial because not only did his men have to fight alongside with Phillip, they wanted to accomplish this feats for him because they thought of him as a leader who cared about them. They felt morally obligated to give everything they had for Phillip and when Alexander moved away from this “first among equals” ideal, his power and strength with his men exponentially decreased as he gained more and more power. Always treat your subordinates like they matter and always show gratitude for their hard work.

One thought on “History in the Fleet

  1. Tyger Goslin does a great job at highlighting the positives and negatives of studying history in order to develop future officer self. He also recognizes that in order to study history effectively, you must be able to separate factual evidence of what happened in history from certain biases held by the people in history. It is important to do this because without acknowledgement of biases, it is easy to be swayed into thinking that just because someone was a successful leader, that they are a good representation of a leader to emulate. He looked deeper into the leadership of Phillip II of Macedonia. Tyger made the determination that Phillip II was a good leader to emulate by looking at policies he implemented that were practiced, like the first among equals practice. In looking at this policy, he is recognizing a hard fact of Phillip II’s leadership, and he is also learning a lesson of leading with humility. Humility is a pretty important trait in leadership, and I am delighted to see that my classmate Tyger sees that.


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