The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. Mcnamara

Topics: Leadership, Lyndon B. Johnson, Robert McNamara Pages: 8 (3042 words) Published: September 9, 2012
The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara

Robert McNamara was an exemplary manager or leader
The successes and failings in his career

The Fog of War: Eleven lessons from the life of Robert S. McNamara is a documentary that features the life and the role played by the then US secretary of defense Robert S. McNamara (Political Film Society n.d). The documentary also illustrates the observation of how modern warfare should be carried. It traces the life of McNamara from the birth, the time as the CEO at Ford Motors Company and to the time he is employed as a secretary of defense. McNamara served as U.S secretary of defense in an era period of two U.S presidents who are JF Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. As US secretary of defense, McNamara had to make very hard decision which dictated the fate of U.S during the war. The Harvard‘s Graduate of School of Business Administration was appointed the secretary of defense despite the fact that he had very limited experience and skills on issues related to military operations (Political Film Society, n.d; Mearsheimer, 1993,). Nonetheless, McNamara was able to change the way military operated by instituting well organized planning and budgeting techniques in US Department of Defense. His tenure as US secretary of defense came to halt in February 1968, where he became the president of the World Bank until he retired in 1981. The essay paper is an attempt to determine whether Robert McNamara was an exemplary manager or leader based on the Fog of War: Eleven lessons from the life of Robert S. McNamara documentary. Moreover, the paper explores the successes and failings in his career in trying to decipher the managerial practices and polices implemented by Robert McNamara.

Robert McNamara was an exemplary manager or leader
To better understand whether McNamara was an exemplary leader or manager it is important to differentiate leadership and management. Ethical leadership according to Hussein (2007) is the combination of ethical decision making and ethical behaviour with the aim of driving an organization positively. Therefore, a leader makes ethical decisions and incorporates ethical leadership in an organization (Barnes & Doty, 2010). In addition, an ethical leader is able to differentiate between leadership values and leadership compliance to the set business people. On the other hand, management is a representation of skills which “translate a deep understanding of people’s view of higher authority into action” (Hussein 2007, p.58). Leaders who pose management skills have the capacity of planning and making decisive strategies. In other words, management skills are used to drive organizational resources towards the achievement of certain goals and objectives in most efficient manner. On the aspect of a manager and a leader, a leader is able to manage while a manager leads others. Management functions usually provide leadership while in other instances, leadership activities are applied in management (Kirkpatrick & Locke, 1991; Pops, 2006). The overlap of these aspects brings about what is referred to as a leading manager. In reference to the documentary the “Fog of War’, McNamara is portrayed as an active leader who applied management philosophy in which he believed in offering aggressive leadership questioning, providing suggestive alternatives, stimulating progress, and proposing objectives (US Government, n.d). During his tenure, McNamara was able to bring a lot of changes which were based on ethical leadership. As earlier seen an ethical leader is able to make ethical decision and differentiate what is right or what is wrong. One of the eleven lessons depicted in the film is “There's something beyond one's self” where McNamara emphases on...
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