The Importance of Leadership and Fresh Thinking

B2B Lead Generation: Strong Leadership is Needed

Here’s a lesson in leadership. Sometimes you have to stand up and say “No!”

In 1941, the Japanese has just bombed Pearl Harbor.  The country was depressed and the military was weak from years of anti-war passions.

Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) called in all his military leaders and asked them for plans. They all gave him massive lists of men and materials – for a long, drawn out ground war along the lines of World War One.

FDR said “No.” America needs a shot of confidence. We need to bomb Tokyo.FDR

From Wikipedia: The Japanese people had been told they were invulnerable … An attack on the Japanese homeland would cause confusion in the minds of the Japanese people and sow doubt about the reliability of their leaders. There was a second, and equally important, psychological reason for this attack … Americans badly needed a morale boost.[1]

Two big problems convinced many it was impossible.

  1. Heavy bombers did not have the range to reach Tokyo. They required long runways and high airspeeds to take off. Those long runways were too far away.
  2. Small carrier planes were too small to carry bomb loads. But carriers were the only way to get close to Japan.

The military men told FDR it was impossible. But FDR refused to accept defeat. He contacted the top air expert of the day, James Doolittle, and asked him to solve the problem.

Over time, Doolittle realized that heavy bombers could take off from a carrier deck. If they used full power and took off with less than optimal airspeed, they could barely take off. It was hairy, but doable. One small problem – this was before the maturation of the tail-hook, so they could not land on carriers.

On April 14th, 1942, the famed Doolittle Raid demonstrated that the United States could attack the Japanese homeland. 16 B-25 bombers were launched from the USS Hornet and bombed the Japanese homeland.

What does an event over half a century ago have to do with B2B marketing today?

Like those generals in World War 2, today’s B2B marketer is using the approaches that worked in the last war – email blasts, webinars, events. What stopped the military men from using older approaches? Their visionary leader, FDR, insisted NO!

Does your business have a FDR type of leader? Has your CEO said NO! Has the Board of Directors insisted on a new direction? Why not? Strong leadership is essential today.

Buyer personas, agreed lead definitions, lead nurturing, lead scoring, customer videos, etc. are all needed today.  But only strong leadership can change direction.

What do you think? Do companies need strong, visionary leadership today? We love your comments and sharing.

Did you know this blog publishes 7 day a week and multiple times per day? So if you’ve not visited lately, you’ve missed a lot of great stuff.

Jeff Ogden is President of the B2B lead generation consultancy, Find New Customers, and is considered by many to be one of the top experts. You can follow Jeff on Twitter or download the free white paper on B2B lead generation, How to Find New Customers.

The rest of the story follows:

Sixteen U.S. Army Air Forces B-25B Mitchell medium bombers were launched from the U.S. Navy‘s aircraft carrier USS Hornet deep in the Western Pacific Ocean. The plan called for them to bomb military targets in Japan, and to continue westward to land in China—landing a medium bomber on the Hornet was impossible. All of the aircraft involved in the bombing were lost and 11 crewmen were either killed or captured—with three of the captured men executed by the Japanese Army in China. One of the B-25s landed in the Soviet Union atVladivostok, where it was confiscated and its crew interned for more than a year. Thirteen entire crews, and all but one crewman of a 14th, returned either to the United States or to American forces.[2][3]

The raid caused negligible material damage to Japan, but it succeeded in its goal of helping American morale, and casting doubt in Japan on the ability of the Japanese military leaders. It also caused Japan to withdraw its powerful aircraft carrier force from the Indian Ocean to defend their Home Islands, and the raid contributed to Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto‘s decision to attack Midway—an attack that turned into a decisive rout of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) by the U.S. Navy near Midway Island in the Central Pacific.


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