His Management & Leadership Style (3)

Hitler2Hitler’s leadership essence was a curious blend of a military commander and a leader of a charismatic quasi-religious totalitarian cult. The latter meant, first and foremost, that his decisions were largely based not on rational analysis (i.e. facts, logic and common sense), but on Divine Revelation that he received (or thought he received) from the Higher Power. Or on the principles that he had to adhere to in order to be in good graces of the Providence.

Consequently, he was rarely (if ever) interested in the opinion of his subordinates no matter how competent they were in the subject matter in question. Worse, he usually rejected any information or suggestion given that did not fit his preconceptions. Which in time inevitably led to colossal blunders and ultimately to his downfall.

As did his bipolar depression (i.e. frequent and often violent mood swings) and medications prescribed to him by his personal physician Dr. Theodor Morell (at least 74 substances in 28 different mixtures, including heroin).

These “unconventional treatments” (to put it mildly) contributed significantly to rapid deterioration of his health after the invasion of the Soviet Union. Which predictably made his blunders more frequent and more severe.

Not surprisingly, Adolf Hitler completely lacked humility. He often stubbornly stuck to his decisions even it was painfully evident to anyone (including himself) that they were dead wrong. Which predictably contributed to his downfall in no small measure.

Although he believed himself to be omniscient, he also believed that he was an intermediary of sorts between the Higher Power and the German people. In addition, as a military commander, he had to trust his troops; consequently, he was supposed to (1) provide them with broad directives supported by proper inspiration and motivation and (2) give them all but complete freedom in making his directives a reality. And micromanage only when he did not trust them sufficiently (which was the case with Wehrmacht generals after 1941).

Despite his perception of himself as a Messiah of sorts, in his relationships with his subordinates he was surprisingly egalitarian (even the idea of “royal treatment” was utterly alien to him).

True, he was the Supreme Commander, but he wanted to be perceived as the “first among the equals”, a “comrade-in-arms” (he made no distinction between civilian and military subordinates – both kinds were soldiers to him).

He had a strong (and very military) sense of honor and thus flatly refused promotion to well-deserved general’s rank. As well as any decorations, although he earned the Knight’s Cross with at least Oak leaves many times over. Being a wealthy man (he made a fortune from sales of Mein Kampf), he refused to accept the Reich Chancellor salary.

He demanded absolute loyalty from his subordinates – to Germany and to him personally – and was loyal in return. He firmly believed that as a military commander, he had an obligation to take good care about his troops, so he did.

He was generally a polite, considerate and even caring boss; he knew the names and birthdays of his employees (and never failed to congratulate them), he visited them when they got sick, and they predictably repaid him with lifetime loyalty, even after his monstrous crimes became generally known.

Always an idealist and a maximalist, he usually favored the most radical solutions presented. Which inevitably led to monstrous crimes (e.g. the Holocaust) or genuinely crazy gambles that more often than not ended in disaster.

He was an excellent judge of character and thus a highly efficient manipulator capable of making just about everyone do what he wanted. Unbelievably, to his very last days.

Probably the strongest core competency of Adolf Hitler was his ability to “transfer faith”. Hitler’s faith in the ultimate success of his endeavors was so powerful and so contagious (and supported with such ruthlessness in pursuit of his objectives) that he became an almost omnipotent source of motivation and inspiration for just about everyone who came in contact with him. Which does explain why and how he managed to achieve genuinely miraculous results both in the civilian life and on the battlefield.

 

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