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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 18-Jun-08

 


Wednesday 18-June-08

Sharpe's Way

I've been re-watching the Sharpe TV movies recently, with the splendid Sean Bean as Bernard Cornwell's redoubtable hero.

Sharpe is a rifleman in the Napoleonic wars, mostly in the Spanish campaign, who gets promoted up the ranks after repeated heroic action, including saving Wellington's life. With occasional injury, he dodges endless bullets in this handsomely-produced and well-acted set of 2 hour dramas.

In many ways, Sharpe epitomises the ideal leader. He is tough and demanding of his small band of elite 'chosen men', but also respects and looks after them. He leads from the front, facing the same dangers and enduring the same hardships as his subordinates. In one episode one of his men is asked why he is so loyal to Sharpe. He answers simply, 'He looks after us, so we look after him' What a great description of a good leader!

The officers above him are very mixed. Some are good soldiers. Some are dangerous and arrogant fools. Whilst Sharpe is respectful to all (at least to their face), he is not shy about pointing out the folly of foolish plans. The good officers respect him, whilst the poor ones detest the way he shows them up, though when he saves their hides they often swallow their pride.

The drama is set at the same time that Nelson was terrorising the French at sea, and in many ways Sharpe's Way echoes the reality of Nelson's Way which could perhaps be summarised as 'Committed Leadership.' Real commitment leads to results, and when others see you are committed, they become more ready to commit themselves. too. The question thus arises: how committed are you to your goals?


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