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General William Slim and the Power of Emotional and Cultural Intelligence in Multinational and Multicultural Operations

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Technical Report

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US Army Command and General Staff College Fort Leavenworth United States

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British General William Joseph Slims accomplishments in the Burma theatre of World War II are well known. However, Slims greatness stems not only from his accomplishments on the battlefield, as impressive as they were, but more so for his accomplishments as a leader. Slim faced two unique challenges. The first was the diverse and multicultural makeup of his army. The second was the establishment and maintenance of special personal relationships with a remarkable set of personalities, each of whom could destroy the unity of effort and purpose required in such a theatre. The challenges Slim faced, were daunting yet he was wildly successful. How did he achieve this What edge did Slim have that many others seemed to lack This paper will argue that Slims success was the result of a highly developed sense of emotional and cultural intelligence. Future multinational force commanders will face the same challenges as Slim in establishing unity of effort and purpose given diverse nationalities, cultures, and personalities. As such, Bill Slim is an excellent case study in the power of emotional and cultural intelligence in surmounting these challenges.

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