KAL Publications, Inc. – Talks


General, United States Army, retired


Writing a book is hard work, 13 months, day in and day out, 7 days a week. In my house, it’s called "the damn book." Working on the damn book? Yes.

We may be successful leaders and we may be ahead but we may only be ahead by one point. Nothing is wrong with talking about basic leadership, common sense leadership.

There are basic fundamental concepts of leadership that apply to any size, any type of organization. Every one of you is a leader. A leader in business, a leader in schools, in community activities, in church activities, in your own home. Think about all the areas you play a leadership role.

There is no such thing as a born leader. Great leaders of history are ordinary people who prepared themselves and then found themselves thrust into a position of great responsibility.

The world is crying out for leadership.

Leadership is not managership. Managing and leading are not the same. I’ve met a lot of great managers who were terrible leaders. Leaders lead people. Human beings with hopes, dreams, and ambitions. Without these people, the systems managers manage would utterly fail.

The challenge of leadership is to get people to be willing to do that which they ordinarily would not do. That is why leadership in the military is so important.

Whenever three people get together, there’s always a leader. It’s not always the person you think it is. Not the person necessarily who has the power or signs the paychecks.

The most important ingredient is character. Competence is important, but not the most important.

75% of employees said it was okay to lie to bosses. We asked them why it was okay. They said bosses are unethical. If bosses are unethical, they feel it’s okay for them to be unethical.

Leaders have to lead by example. They live in glass houses. People look at their leaders and hope that they’re better than they are. They want to feel people making the decisions hold themselves to a higher standard.

It’s not important to be loved. It’s important to be respected. Respected because they accepted responsibility for their actions and the entire organization they lead.

Delegate authority, not responsibility. It’s always going to be yours.

True rewards of leadership come from leadership itself. If you’re doing it just for the next promotion, you’re bound for disappointment. If you can be proud of what you’ve achieved as a team, you will take that with you all your days.

Techniques that work:

Your organization will never get better unless you’re willing to admit something out there is broken. Apply resources against the things that are broken. That principle alone made quality of difference in troops we sent to Vietnam and troops we sent to the Gulf War.

Corollary: you must have an environment within the organization to allow people to admit something is wrong.

The next step: set goals. Everyone in the organization must understand these goals and the role they have in achieving the goals.

Keep the focus on the goal. You don’t have to do everything. Put the other stuff aside.

Next: establish standards. A high performing organization equals leadership that demands high standards. A low performing organization equals organizations where the leadership accepts low standards.

Let people know what is expected of them. People don’t go to work to fail. They go to work to succeed. That’s why they go. They know they’ve succeeded when they know what the standards are.

If you set high standards, you will get high results because people will try to exceed that standard. If you set low standards, they’ll meet that number exactly.

Failure is contagious but success is infectious.

You must reinforce success within the organization, reward success.

Accept a few mistakes. Don’t accept failure. I’m advocating latitude to learn.

Great leaders do not tell people how to do their job. They tell them what to do, set standards, set guidelines, and set deadlines.

Tell them what to do, give them resources, and allow them to use their initiative and you’ll see results you never anticipated.

There are two great secrets to 21st century leadership. Practice these and I guarantee you’ll be a great leader. Rule 13: when placed in command, take charge. Make decisions. Maybe it’s the wrong decision, but do something. Rule 14: Do what’s right. Not what you think someone wants you to do. Not what makes you look good.

In really tough times, when you’ve got to make tough decisions, you know what’s right. The tough part is doing it, especially when there’s no one around to grade your paper.

We have an awesome responsibility on our shoulders as the world’s only superpower.

The United States of America isn’t what happens in Washington.

When called upon to do so, we’ve got to be willing to take charge. But, more importantly, we’ve got to be willing to do what’s right.

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