The Bulge Leadership Experience

The Battle of the Bulge Leadership Training Experience uses this monumental and pivotal battle – the largest single battle in the history of the United States Army – as a vehicle to examine how leaders of large and complex organizations addressed extraordinary and unforeseen challenges to achieve their individual group and larger organization objectives.  It also provides an immensely rich platform from which to explore leadership decisions both from a highly proactive/offensive position and from a defensive position during times of extreme desperation.  The outcome of the German surprise attack in mid-
December 1944 in Belgium and Luxembourg shaped not only our nation’s history but also the course of world history.

Dynamic Battle That Enables Rich Leadership Exploration – The Battle of the Bulge provides a unique opportunity to examine leadership and its consequences in depth.  Whether it was at the highest level involving the direction of tens of thousands of individuals or at the junior level involving only a handful of people, what comes through consistently is the huge difference effective leadership can make in organizational effectiveness.  On the German side, this battle represents the last gasp, the ultimate gamble to retrieve victory from impending defeat, a herculean effort to overcome seemingly impossible obstacles when the enemy has seized the initiative.  For the American side, numerous issues resonate with contemporary clarity:  dealing with the unknown or unexpected; creating order out of chaos; empowering subordinates; underestimating the competition; the importance of providing clarity of intent and communication of goals; and empowering subordinates.

Who Should Attend?

The character-based leadership training principles presented through The Battle of the Bulge Leadership Training Experience can be tailored to meet the needs of the highest level senior leaders, the less-experienced yet rising leaders within an organization, or any level in between.  The Battle of the Bulge Leadership program addresses universal leadership themes that leaders at all stages of professional development will find beneficial to their career growth and organizational aspirations.

Methodology & Delivery

Battlefield Leadership is the only executive/leadership development and training company offering an experiential leadership training program based on the epic battle between Allied and German forces in the Ardennes Region on the Belgian-German border in December 1944.

The program focuses on the leadership of these multinational forces during the action on the “north shoulder” of the Bulge and the siege of Bastogne at both the strategic (Hitler-Model-Von Rundstedt and Eisenhower-Montgomery-Patton) and operational/tactical levels. Leadership lessons drawn from the Battle of the Bulge experience highlight such dynamics and practices as: balancing operational and strategic focus; communicating direction and expectations with clarity in an ambiguous and fluid environment; recharging morale and the will to perform under pressure; the role of situational awareness and adaptability in effectiveness; having the right leader(s) for the assignment/situation; avoiding complacency and building performance capability and readiness; forging interdependency and teamwork among units; creating an environment supporting initiative and innovation within the framework of intent; and, the role of character and ethics.

Depending on group size, the program is headquartered near Spa, Belgium on the western edge of the Ardennes, at a luxury resort and country estate sometimes called the "lttle Versailles of the Ardennes”, or in nearby Stavelot, Belgium at a charming family-owned five star resort there. Participants fly into Brussels, Cologne, or Dusseldorf (each approximately 130 km from the site) to arrive in Spa by mid-day of the first day. A five-star dinner follows an afternoon session, during which an introduction, an orientation to the area, and a strategic overview of the Battle of the Bulge will take place.

Leadership Elements Explored

The leadership training principles, practices and themes, intrinsically explored via this program include:

  • A leader’s role in creating conditions for success

  • Building and effectively sustaining both leadership teams and teams of leaders

  • Creating order in the chaos of a rapidly changing environment

  • Leveraging the power of technological change

  • Balancing the sense of strategic opportunity with the calculation of immediate tactical risks

  • Filtering and prioritizing critical initiatives from the multiplicity of important tasks

  • Creating an environment fostering initiative and ownership

  • Establishing a leadership climate of commitment and readiness to improve organizational agility

  • Adapting quickly to fluid, volatile environments

  • Instilling resiliency and flexibility

  • Thinking strategically while focusing tactically

  • Communicating effectively to a geographically dispersed team

Benefits of Program

Through our exploration of the battle, participants of the Battle of the Bulge Leadership Training Experience will take away a number of benefits. Rich in executive training and character-based leadership, this leadership lesson from history provides participants further insights into:

  • The role of the leaders in shaping the future

  • Building and sustaining teams

  • Managing processes

  • Nurturing learning

  • Managing order through chaos

  • Effectively communicating and understanding intent, setting clear direction and expectations, and achieving organizational alignment

  • Effectively communicating and motivating personnel across multiple language and cultural barriers

  • Additional benefits include:

Greater Team Cohesion -- In addition to gaining these benefits and experiencing new perspectives on leadership, group participants will also derive a greater esprit de corps.  When intact teams participate together and share a common experience, the result is highly impactful and can contribute greatly to achieving organizational alignment.

Tailored Customization -- An important benefit to participants and organizations alike is when we customize the content of a program and/or place emphasis on a leadership aspect that has been deemed critical to the participating organization.  By gathering information from pre-session interviews or teleconferences with program sponsors and/or HR leaders, we can focus in on specific events, characters and dynamics of the battle and its leaders to make the program highly relevant and situational to all participants and the needs of that organization.  Additionally, our battlefield programs can be modified to use and integrate a company’s respective core competencies and leadership models. Further, program agendas can be adjusted to meet specific time constraints and desires of the participant companies.