Leading to the End…

“Nobody gets here without being brilliant—make them good.” p. 206

Enders Game is justifiably a seminal part of any military PME program. Across the DOTMLPF spectrum, the story of Ender Wiggins has applicability. The intent of this brief post however, is to address the lessons learned from Enders experience upon taking initial command inside of a broader discussion on leadership. 

The reader witnesses the isolation accompanying Ender during the transition period from a regular soldier excelling as a first among equals to a small unit leader. Although his tactical legitimacy was cemented through rigorous evening training sessions with those who followed willingly, the authority of command created new expectations—and pressures. 

Ender experiences isolation and sleeplessness as he confronts the responsibilities to train and lead his unit in the battle room. This isolation is contrasted with the building confidence coincided with creating subordinate small unit leaders able to operate with initiative, absent direct orders. Ender evolves to embrace the new role, quickly excelling in competitions and exceeding the already highly set expectations. 

As the story plays out, we find Ender in command of the entire fleet directing subordinate leaders. The rigorous training produces a unique combination of decentralized maneuvers operating within a centralized command framework. Multiple small units operating with initiative against a numerically superior enemy and displaying creativity within commanders Intent. 

Amongst the various lessons in Enders Game, this is the most profound, and applicable. The reader witnesses the evolution of a brilliant young mind struggling not only to master the battle personally, but to successfully direct multiple assets towards a common enemy critical vulnerability.  It drives home a foundational axiom—great leaders are made, not born. The July edition of the Gazette provides a deep look at the concept of leadership. The question I will pose is this: if great leaders are made, what more should/could we be doing to take the top 25% of the American population (our Marines), and make great leaders out of them?  

—Lt Col Brad Fultz