Archive for profession of arms

The Junior Officer Reader ~ Not (Just) Another Reading List

Posted in Books, Reading Lists, Reading Room with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 14, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

REUTERS/Erik De Castro

Last week, Don Gomez, of the blog Carrying the Gun, posted The Junior Officer Reader – two down.  The post was a plea to fellow bloggers and readers for titles of books written by junior officers or soldiers about their military experiences.  He listed a few that he had in his library, but wanted to know of other books he may not be aware of.  There are two purposes for this post: 1) What books are you aware of to answer Don’s question?, and 2) To answer his question with a few resources recently posted on the internet.

One of the blogs I follow is Time Magazine‘s Battleland, where there are quite the opinionated blog posts about the United States military and defense policy.  But, this morning, they sent out their daily digest of articles which included an article entitled, Not (Just) Another Reading List.  Within this article may be a few of Don’s answers.  From the article:

…I have a shelf of books I own solely because some previous commander put it on his mandatory reading list. These lists are handed down as part of the boilerplate leadership model every commander (in the Army at least) learns early on…I thought it might be interesting to put together a list of literary works that soldiers and others would find helpful or at least interesting and worthwhile…I won’t make this a top-ten list, but rather just a list of a couple handfuls of books and why I think they’re worth including on soldiers’ reading lists…

——-> Continue reading Not (Just) Another Reading List

A link within the above article went to The Junior Officers’ Book Club.  Here, the author may have come a bit closer to Don’s answer.  The links within the below excerpt from the article lead to additional book lists and resources:

This is the second time in six months I’ve written about military reading lists. In August, we looked at the books then Army Chief of Staff, now Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Martin Dempsey asked his soldiers and officers to read as part of their professional development. Reading lists are interesting because they’re the books commanders and superiors want their troops to be reading in their free time, which is a precious commodity in the military…In this month’s ARMY magazine, which is published by the Association of the United States Army, company level officers weighed in on the books that had an impact on their effectiveness as platoon leaders and company commanders. What makes this list noteworthy is that the suggestions are by company-grade officers, for company-grade officers–young leaders telling their peers and those coming through the ranks behind them what was important…

——-> Continue reading The Junior Officers’ Book Club

And, as I was preparing this post, I got a Tweet from The Command and General Staff College (@USACGSC).  It was a link to an article written by Admiral James Stavridis, the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe and Commander, US European Command.  The article, entitled Twenty Great Novels for Summer Reading, is more a list of literary works, with a few military and war-oriented titles.  From Admiral Stavridis’ article:

We learn so much from reading. In a sense, every novel we pick up and read allows us to live another life entirely.  As we head into the summer, I went back to some of the great reads of the last century in fiction.  Some are famous and well known to generations of high school and college students — but might deserve a re-read. Others are less well known to broad audiences…

——-> Continue reading Twenty Great Novels for Summer Reading

I’d love to hear about other great literary works on the wartime experience.  What else should we be reading?  What books had the biggest impact on your effectiveness as a leader?

Related Articles –

H.R. McMaster: The Warrior’s-Eye View of Afghanistan (online.wsj.com)

Professional Reading is Essential – An Introduction (commandperformanceleadership.wordpress.com)

The Development of a Reading Program (commandperformanceleadership.wordpress.com)

Reading the Professional Soldier

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 10, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

Highly recommended reading.

Carrying the Gun

I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few weeks reading about the professional soldier and some of the issues faced by the US Army in managing the professional force. The number of articles on the topic suggests there is an issue that needs to be addressed.

These are three good articles to read for junior leaders in the force. They raise hard questions.

Afghanistan: A Gathering Menace (The American Scholar) – a journalist’s take on traveling with US soldiers. Is this just bravado or a toxic culture?

Lost in Translation: How the Army has Garbled the Message about the Nature of Its Profession (Military Review) – Are we soldiers or warriors? Does it matter?

Honor, not law (Armed Forces Journal) – especially relevant in light of the Afghanistan massacre. The author argues that it is honor and values that shape battlefield behavior, not law.

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Listen, Learn…Then Lead

Posted in Leadership, Video of the Week with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 6, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

by Stanley McChrystal (as seen on TED.com)

The Video of the Week

(scroll down to see today’s video)

With a remarkable record of achievement, General Stanley McChrystal has been praised for creating a revolution in warfare that fused intelligence and operations. A four-star general, he is the former commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan and the former leader of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), which oversees the military’s most sensitive forces. McChrystal’s leadership of JSOC is credited with the December 2003 capture of Saddam Hussein and the June 2006 location and killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq. McChrystal, a former Green Beret, is known for his candor.

After McChrystal graduated from West Point, he was commissioned as an infantry officer, and spent much of his career commanding special operations and airborne infantry units. During the Persian Gulf War, McChrystal served in a Joint Special Operations Task Force and later commanded the 75th Ranger Regiment. He completed year-long fellowships at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1997 and in 2000 at the Council on Foreign Relations. In 2002, he was appointed chief of staff of military operations in Afghanistan. Two years later, McChrystal was selected to deliver nationally televised Pentagon briefings about military operations in Iraq. From 2003 to 2008, McChrystal commanded JSOC and was responsible for leading the nation’s deployed military counter-terrorism efforts around the globe. He assumed command of all International Forces in Afghanistan in June 2009. President Obama’s order for an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan was based on McChrystal’s assessment of the war there. McChrystal retired from the military in August 2010.

In the following video from TED.com, General McChrystal shares what he learned about leadership over his decades in the military. How can you build a sense of shared purpose among people of many ages and skill sets? By listening and learning — and addressing the possibility of failure. Some of the key points General McChrystal emphasizes in this discussion are:

1) If your people do everything you taught them to do, and they do those things properly, you led them well. People follow leaders.

2) Leaders can let you fail, and yet not let you be a failure.

3) Leaders build confidence and trust in their people. And, those who you are leading have to have faith and trust in the leader. Leaders have to build faith, trust and confidence.

4) In failure, the leader must reach out to his force and rebuild trust and confidence…rebuilt confidence in the force, rebuilt confidence in the leader, and rebuilt confidence in the seniors of the leader and the force.

5) A leader must build consensus and a sense of shared purpose with his force.

6) How does a leader stay credible and legitimate when they haven’t done what the people their leading are doing? Leaders must become more transparent and a lot more willing to listen.

7) Keep your promises and live up to your obligations; to your subordinates, your peers and your superiors. Be ready to support them when they need you most.

8) A leader isn’t good because he is right. They’re good because their willing to learn, and to trust. If you are a leader, the people you’ve counted on will help you out. And, if you’re a leader, the people who count on you need you on your feet.

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Sources –

TED.com: Ideas Worth Spreading – Listen, Learn…Then Lead: Stanley McChrystal on TED.comhttp://blog.ted.com/2011/04/05/listen-learn-then-lead-stanley-mcchrystal-on-ted-com/

TED.com: Ideas Worth Spreading – Stanley McChrystal’s Profile on TED.com – “Stanley McChrystal: Military leader”http://www.ted.com/speakers/stanley_mcchrystal.html

Leadership Principles

Posted in Leadership, Principles, Video of the Week with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 30, 2011 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

Leadership in Battle

Hal MooreConsidered one of the top battlefield commanders in world history, Lieutenant General Harold G. Moore (US Army Retired) established his place in military history in 1965 when he led his vastly outnumbered troops to prevail in the first major battle of the Vietnam War.  Both on the battlefield and off, he has spent his lifetime studying and encouraging strong, principled leadership as a soldier and a human being.

The following video lays out Lt. Gen. Moore’s four main principles for a leader in battle.  Although they are discussed in the context of battlefield leadership, one can easily apply these leadership principles to a corporate environment by slightly adjusting the circumstances to a team or workplace scenario.  No matter if it is on a battlefield or in a corporate boardroom, leading a team to victory is the common goal.

Below are the four leadership principles for a leader’s conduct in battle, as discussed in the video:

1. Three strikes and you’re not out! There is always one more thing you can do to influence any situation in your favor.

There are two things a leader can do:

  • Contaminate his environment, and the unit, with his attitude and actions.

OR

  • He can inspire confidence.

A leader must be visible on the battlefield.  He must be self-confident, with a positive attitude, and exhibit confidence under any set of circumstances.  The determination to prevail must be felt by all, no matter what the odds or how desperate the situation.  He must have and display the will to win by his actions, his words, the tone of his voice, his appearance, his demeanor, his countenance, and the look in his eyes.  Instill the will to win. There can be no second-place trophies on display—awarded or accepted.

He must remain calm and cool; NO FEAR.  He must ignore the noise, the dust, smoke, explosions, screams of the wounded, the yells, and the dead lying around him; that is all normal.  He must not give off any hint or evidence that he is uncertain about a positive outcome; even in the most desperate of situations.

2. There’s always one more thing you can do to influence any situation in your favor.  And, after that, one more thing…and, after that, one more thing, etc., etc.

A leader must ask himself, “What am I doing that I should not be doing, and what am I not doing that I should be doing, to influence the situation in my favor?

3. A leader must always be ready! When there is nothing going wrong, there’s nothing going wrong except there is nothing going wrong.  That is when a leader should be most alert.

4. Trust your instincts.

In critical, fast-moving battlefield situations, Instincts and intuition give you an immediate estimation of a situation.  Your instincts are the product of your education, your reading, your personality, and your experience.  TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS.  When seconds count, instincts and decisiveness come into play.  In quick, developing situations, the leader must act fast and part confidence to all around him; he must not second-guess the decision.  MAKE IT HAPPEN!!!  Face up to the facts, deal with them, and move on.

In addition, General Moore had a few more principles for military leaders to apply to their course of conduct:

  • Everything in leadership boils down to judgment. Intelligence and good character does not imply you have good judgment.
  • Study history and leadership qualities. Pay special attention to why leaders fail.
  • A person in a position of authority does not automatically become immediately respected or trusted. This is earned.
  • Every person in an organization is as important and necessary to a mission as the next person. That goes from the top to the bottom.
  • Never deprive a person of their self-respect. NEVER!
  • To do well in any field of endeavor, it is an advantage to work with good people.
  • Strive to have one or two people around you who are totally trustworthy.
  • Spend quality time with the team, learning who they are and what motivates them. Create a family.
  • Great leaders learn to lead themselves first. Before you can lead others, leading yourself successfully must be accomplished day in and day out.
  • Successful leaders create the future.
  • Leaders must lead. Be the first boots on the ground and the last boots off.

 

Professional Reading is Essential – An Introduction

Posted in Inaugural Posts, Reading Lists, Reading Room with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 12, 2011 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

Reading Lists and the Development of a Reading Program

Leadership reading programs exist across all branches of the military, and among many commands.  They are developed to encourage a life-long habit of reading and learning among all military and civilian personnel.  The books included in these collections provide readers with a deeper understanding and appreciation for military heritage, the profession of arms, and the complex modern world in which we operate.  The many books on these reading lists are thought-provoking, and provide a useful course of independent study in the origin of the profession of arms, valuable leadership techniques, the use of our critical thinking abilities, and our Armed Forces and their history.

The Pentagon’s library of current reading lists is a compilation of links to reading lists from each of the branches of the military, as well as a few Department of Defense sectors.  Each list is quite comprehensive.  Members of the military, the civilians who work in the Department of Defense, and anyone with the aspiration to expand their knowledge, with a thirst for learning, should consider using these lists as a springboard for additional reading and study.  Doing so will sharpen their intellects while preparing for their next level of responsibility.  Ultimately, professional reading lists of any kind, for any organization, in any walk of life, are a pillar for leadership development efforts.  Translating written words into sound decision-making, and relating what is read to what is actually done, becomes essential.

I encourage you to compile a list of your own recommended readings (books, articles, online e-books, etc.) that you have read, or have the ambition to read; I will do the same.  Then, once we have put our reading lists together, please post them as comments to this blog discussion, and share your reading list.  As contributors comment and share their recommended readings, We will discuss them together in the ‘Reading Room,’ set as a topic category of this blog.  In this category, and throughout the existence of this blog, we will go into much more detail about our recommended reading lists.  We will expand on what we are learning from what we are reading.  This will add a very interesting and beneficial dimension to this blog, as it will allow us to bring our various thoughts, ideas and knowledge to a unique forum within the Command Performance Leadership blog.

Copyright © Dale R. Wilson

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