Sir Arthur Currie
His usage of Nelson Mandela's '8 Leadership Lessons'
Who was he?
Arthur Currie is internationally known as one of Canada's best leaders, as a direct result of his efforts in World War I. He was Canada's first Commander of Canadian Corps, leading his soldiers to victory on many fronts. He is a true embodiment of a great leader and used many of Nelson Mandela's lessons to achieve that.
Sir Arthur Currie began as a militia officer until the First Contingent in 1914. He successfully lead his brigade in 1915 at the battle of Ypres, allowing the allied forces to maintain their ground. He became the Commander of the 1st Canadian Divison in September of that same year. Currie proved himself as he successfully commanded in that role and that lead him to be promoted to Commander of Canadian Corps when Sir Julian Byng was promoted to a higher position. Sir Arthur Currie lead his corps to major victories at the several battles of Ypres, Hill 70, Passchendaele, Amiens, Arras, and the Canal du Nord.
- Leadership Lessons -
No. 8 - "Quitting is Leading too"
Nelson Mandela's 8th lesson states that a good leader knows when to give up or quit, regardless of the situation. Sir Arthur Currie exemplified this lesson in his efforts to lead the Canadian armed forces at the battle of Passchendaele, in 1917. He did so by advising his superior commanding officer, Douglas Haig, to back down and not engage the Germans at Passchendaele. Currie thought it was unwise to attack at the time, seeing as they were at a major disadvantage. He realized that the battlefield was in terrible condition due to weather and mortar strikes. This made it what was known as a 'war within a war' because the environment would kill as many troops as the actually enemy themselves. Douglas Haig decided to proceed with the attack any how because he thought they could deliver a serious blow to the German forces. This was a failed attack and the allied forces lost a lot of men due to it. If Sir Arthur Currie's advise had been taken, they wouldn't have lost these forces and would've had the opportunity to use those forces in a more successful attempt. This shows how Currie wasn't afraid to back down and that he was wise in advising to do so.
No. 4 "Know your Enemy"
Nelson believed that to truly have an upper hand on your enemy, you should know them very well and do your research about them to put yourself in the greatest possible position. Sir Arthur Curry clearly used this lesson in the campaign at Vimy Ridge, in 1914. He did so by researching the Germans prior attacks during the war, including their successful attempt to steal the ridge from the French. After conducting his research he found out that the Germans were generally very aggressive in battle. He also studied their location and how to successfully attack the Germans. He filled in the British Commanding Officer, Sir Julian Byng, and the rest of the allied forces pursuing a recapture of the ridge. This allowed them to be in the best position possible to develop a plan and begin their efforts to overtake the Germans at Vimy Ridge.
Sir Julian Byng and Sir Arthur Currie
The two commanders discussing war plans, prior to the attack on Vimy Ridge.
Trenches Below Vimy Ridge
The allied forces gathered in trenches near the ridge, prior to their attack.
The Germans atop the ridge.
No. 3 Lead from the Back - and Let Others Believe They are in Front
Nelson Mandela believed that it is sometimes best to not take an aggressive stance on situations; allowing others to think they have the upper hand on you. Sir Arthur Currie showed his ability to apply this lesson when he devised a plan to capture Vimy Ridge from the Germans. He perfected a plan known as the "Creeping Barrage", which is what he is most well known for in WWI. The plan called for constant artillery fire just in front of a slowly advancing squad of infantry. This tactic allowed the allies to slowly approach the ridge and eventually take it over from the Germans. This was very deceiving as it made it seem like the forces were making little progress due to their slow pace. The Germans believed that they were successfully fending off the allied forces, but in reality they were slowly getting weakened and approached upon. This effectively made the Germans believe they were at a great advantage over the allied forces and then allowed the allies to successfully overthrow the Germans at the ridge. By devising and executing this plan Currie showed how a leader can be successful in implementing Nelson's third lesson.