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Published: November 28, 2007

 
 

The Dance of Power

Taking It to the World
Colonel Krawchuk believes that building awareness is essential because the U.S. military services have grown so diverse. “This makes it harder but also more important to be aware of what others are thinking, and how what you do impacts them,” he says. “If you don’t know how to pay attention, you can’t influence people who have different experiences from yours. Then the whole leadership thing just falls apart.”

Krawchuk took personal time to study at Strozzi’s dojo before accepting an assignment at an operations center in Germany. “We did training in logistics for Special Forces guys who operated rescue helicopters, so we were dealing with an atmosphere of constant crisis,” he recalls. “Being in crisis intensifies the need to remain centered. The trouble is that operating in crisis mode tends to make you go to your head. So you lose balance physically and can’t think straight.”

Krawchuk observes that counseling people in this kind of job is less effective than working with them through movement: “It provides a way to get them to slow down so they can see their own behavior, see the effect they have on people around them. Now when I do performance counseling, I always start with movement. I grab a guy and say, ‘Let’s go for a walk.’ While we’re walking, we do centering exercises. That takes them out of their heads and into their bellies. I have them observe how their feet are on the ground, see where they are breathing. This enables them to settle down enough to address whatever the issue is in a calm and powerful way. The somatic aspect makes the difference.”

Now Krawchuk is working with Strozzi to integrate somatic practice into counterinsurgency training. He says, “Counterinsurgency has been defined as 70 percent civic affairs and 30 percent kick down the doors. In recent years, it’s been the reverse, which is a problem. You see it in companies, too. Enron was about 70 percent kick down the doors. People in business look to the military for training ideas, but the ‘business warrior’ approach trivializes both business and war. What we really need to do is change the mind-set.”

With Krawchuk, Strozzi has begun readapting some of his civilian leadership training techniques for the next iteration of military application. Strozzi says, “Security problems these days require an interdisciplinary approach. So the focus in the military is on connecting across cultures. Working with the body gives you a way to do that because it transcends words and language. It takes us to that common core of being human.”

That common core is what attracts Krawchuk. “Using awareness helps people identify kindred spirits in different sectors so they can figure out who to blend with,” he says. “The army needs to do that in order to create grounded leaders who manifest values that are attractive to lots of different people. If we can’t, we won’t raise the resources we need to address our security problems. It’s not about killing bad guys anymore, it’s about seeing problems in an integrated way.”

Drawing on military connections, Strozzi has been expanding his leadership dojo concept to the Philippines and Indonesia, which are on the front lines of security issues today. He says, “There’s a huge youth bulge in Southeast Asia, a boom in kids ages 13 to 19, mostly in rural areas with few opportunities but with enough media to show them what life is like in the city and persuade them to go looking for work and excitement. They leave their villages and get scooped up by groups like al Qaeda, put into madrassas for indoctrination. We want to open up dojos for these kids where they can learn aikido, focus on being centered, on harmonizing instead of confronting. It’s the polar opposite of what the madrassas teach, but it draws on the culture in this part of the world in a powerful way. These countries have a long history of excellence in the martial arts. That gives us a framework for building authentic leadership based on what’s best in these kids so they can help defuse the aggression that is making the world so dangerous just now.”

 
 
 
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Resources

  1. Klaus-Peter Gushurst, “The New Leadership — Sober, Spirited, and Spiritual,” s+b enews, 1/08/2004: Explains how leadership styles today combine the classic values of discipline and execution with the contemporary values of openness and natural expression. Click here.
  2. George Leonard, The Way of Aikido: Life Lessons from an American Sensei (Dutton, 1999): Evocative overview from the man who introduced Strozzi-Heckler to the military.
  3. Nikos Mourkogiannis, “The Realist’s Guide to Moral Purpose,” s+b, Winter 2005: Four ideals of leadership that appeal to our deepest instincts — and that can inspire a company to long-term success. Click here.
  4. Randall Rothenberg, “Noel M. Tichy: The Thought Leader Interview,” s+b, Spring 2003: The University of Michigan leadership teacher says that the essential leadership skill is teaching. Click here. 
  5. Richard Strozzi-Heckler, Anatomy of Change: A Way to Move Through Life’s Transitions (North Atlantic Books, 1997): How to gain a new awareness of one’s potential and range of choices using practices drawn from aikido and Lomi body work.
  6. Richard Strozzi-Heckler, Holding the Center: Sanctuary in a Time of Confusion (Frog, 1997): Strozzi-Heckler calls on personal experience to analyze the balance between instinct and choice, and between power and generosity.
  7. Richard Strozzi-Heckler, In Search of the Warrior Spirit: Teaching Awareness Disciplines to the Green Berets (North Atlantic Books, 2003): Is it possible for a soldier in the age of high-tech warfare to act morally? Strozzi-Heckler explores this question.
  8. Richard Strozzi-Heckler, The Leadership Dojo: Build Your Foundation as an Exemplary Leader (Frog, 2007): An exploration of three critical leadership questions: What does a leader do? What are the character values most essential to exemplary leadership? How do you teach these values?
  9. The Strozzi Institute Web site: More information about Richard Strozzi-Heckler’s organization. Click here.
  10. For more business thought leadership, sign up for s+b’s RSS feeds. Click here.
 
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