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Creating a Culture of Trust and Loyalty

Pictured: General Chuikov (center) discussing battle plans with 8th Guards officers

Authentic leaders create a culture of trust and loyalty, and Marshal Chuikov understood this dynamic well. Training soldiers and developing battle plans were activities in which he excelled, and his years of successful leadership and numerous victories stand as a testament to his effectiveness. Chuikov remained at the front lines of battle throughout the Great Patriotic War. Michael Jones shared in his work titled Stalingrad: How the Red Army Triumphed how Vasily Ivanovich “did not want to risk his men’s lives in such a cavalier fashion” as he observed other generals doing by commanding at a distance away from the front (see Chapter 3). In his book Stalingrad Guards Go West, Chuikov shares his thoughts on gaining confidence and loyalty within the ranks. He recognized the need to establish a relationship of trust with his troops through clarity of communication and by his active presence with them in battle.

“Any tactical technique is only valuable when it is understandable to every soldier, when it can be performed by everyone, from officers to ordinary soldiers. Suvorov once said that ‘every soldier must understand his maneuver.’ These words were not spoken by him by chance. Above a map, in the quiet of a dugout or in an office, the commander of an army, front, or staff officer can invent many tactical techniques with the most complex restructuring, which, from a speculative point of view, may also seem very effective. But they must be necessarily simple, easy to execute, they must be mastered, and not only understood by the immediate performers, the soldiers. When you are dealing with large masses of people in which there are thousands of different characters, fast, slow, with excellent reaction, with delayed reaction, this is not easy to achieve. The training of the troops is precisely measured by the combat techniques they have mastered. In battle, there are no easy maneuvers because the enemy also does not sleep. He is watching you, can guess your technique if you delayed its execution, and apply a counter-technique a result of which you will suffer heavy losses.

The soldiers of the 8th Guards Army, according to the experience of battles in Stalingrad, believed in their commanders. Therefore, everything new that was introduced into the 8th Guards Army was picked up and studied. This is a big, great thing—the soldier's trust in the commander's plan. It gave rise to a desire to understand and master this plan. For the most brilliant thought of a commander, if the soldier did not believe in it, if he did not understand it, is incapable of engendering anything but confusion” (89).


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