August 14, 2006

2nd in charge

I was looking at the image I posted with the post below called King me. It gives me pause to consider that you spend all your time in the game attacking the other King and protecting your own. However, the most powerful piece on the board is the Queen. The female, the second in command (at least hierarchically).

What is it about the second in command that makes it so powerful? You of course have your own authority in that position, but you are also covered in the mantle of the visible leader. Often, in the second hand position, you can go places and do things that you couldn't in the position of the actual leader. The leader must be diplomatic and political. The second position, much less so. The second can wield power in a much different capacity.

I had the opportunity in the military to work for multiple Battalion Commanders. (Lt. Colonels to those without the experience.) They lead a group of 400-600 people depending on the type of organization and it's TO&E (Table of Organization and Equipment). I was a lowly Corporal, but I was often seen as someone who held vast power in the organization. I was able to walk into the Commander's office virtually at will on a daily basis and discuss things with him that most would never dream. To see a very basic org chart for a Battalion, click here. Technically, I was way down at the bottom in a support platoon.

In reality, I shared the commanders visions for their organizations. I had to know how they felt and what they desired. When I saw things that didn't fit with that, I often corrected them myself. When that wasn't politically possible due to rank structure, I was able to bring the issues directly to his attention. My own Company Commanders and First Sergeants were wary of me when I came prowling around. They never knew if I was there of my own volition or on the direction of the Bn Commander.

I recall once walking from my desk where I was working with the Bn Co. late at night before he had to brief the European Commander (CINCEUR). I wasn't sure of a word spelling in the brief and walked into another part of the office to get a dictionary. As I returned, I commented, "It must be good to be the King." He stuttered and started, "I could have gotten the dictionary." I was horrified. "Oh, no, I didn't mean about getting this, I was commenting that leading all these people must be very gratifying." He echoed something I've read in many military books. To be a commander of men is both the best and the worst thing you can ever do. However, once you get the taste for it, you'll always crave it.

I crave to be that second power. The one with the true power on the board. While it doesn't shoulder the responsibility of the leader or get the attention of command, the benefits are there. You have immediate access to your own success. The result of your actions may be transparent to everyone else, but undeniably, you see the result of your efforts. Do we really require credit and title to be the most powerful on the board? Is it enough to simply be the Queen?


At 11:46 AM, Blogger Buffalo said...

I have been both the metaphorical king and the metaphorical queen. The role I like the best is that of free agent - the commander of only myself.

At 12:44 PM, Blogger HannoverFist said...

I find it interesting that the Queen is the only one capable of destroying everything in sight, whereas the King - while equally manueverable - is somehow impotent.

Then to consider the prospect of the rest of your life on a clear board, accompianied only by the destroyer - that's kinda creepy. It makes "Stand By Your Man" seem a little phycho...


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