Eclectic Curiosity

Romeo Dallaire on Leadership

Posted on January 29th, 2009, by Steve Hardy in Archives, Miscellany. No Comments

Romeo Dallaire is a Canadian senator, humanitarian, author, and retired lieutenant-general. He is best known for the position he was assigned to in 1993: Force Commander of UNAMIR, the United Nations peacekeeping force in Rwanda. Responsible for the UN forces mandated to maintain order in the country yet left powerless by the UN itself, Dallaire witnessed firsthand the grisly bloodshed of the Rwanda genocide.

Dallaire wrote a book – Shake Hands with the Devil – about the experience, which has since spawned documentaries and a feature film. He continues to advocate strongly for human rights and for a more widespread understanding that all humans are human.

Last night I had the privilege to listen to Dallaire speak on the subject of leadership. Obviously, he has some remarkable and difficult stories to tell on the subject. He has tremendous insight – on motivation, sacrifice, values, priority, human nature, politics, organizations, success, failure, and vision.

Although he had numerous reflections on Rwanda and his military past, he tailored his speech for a business audience. Dallaire spoke about the importance of a mission statement containing simply one phrase and one action verb. And he pointed out that as a leader, “People want to see your eyes.”

Dallaire surprisingly hung much of his presentation on generalist principles. He emphasized the importance of a visionary long view, of managing within ambiguity, and most of all of pulling together disparate disciplines to achieve progress. I wish I could find some slides or video online. He offered several great examples and models in support of a more interdisciplinary mindset for leaders. A very inspiring man.

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