What Place Does Digital Learning Have in Our Army?

A Call for Input from The Military Leader

Today, I want to let you know about an exciting opportunity and ask for your help in preparing for it. On October 3rd, I’m honored to participate in a 4-person panel at the Association of the US Army (AUSA) Annual Meeting.


The topic is “digital learning in the Army today” and I’ll be flanked by three fellow writers:  Nathan Finney of Strategy Bridge, Joe Byerly of From the Green Notebook, and military fiction writer Jessica Scott. During this panel, we will discuss the important role that digital media (online and social) is playing in the Army, as well as what it means for future learning.

In preparing for this panel, I would sincerely appreciate hearing what you have to say about digital learning in our Army. And by “digital learning” I mean developing yourself or your team through blogs, social media, online magazines, chat forums, etc. – not the official digital learning tools that the Army publishes.

Some framing questions would be:

Are you using online content to develop yourself or your team?
Do you use social media to complement your Army leadership?
Is digital media a credible forum to discuss professional topics?

I plan to (anonymously) cite your experience and examples as evidence of digital media’s impact on our profession. I am open to all input on the topic but have settled on two broad questions to start the discussion.

  1. In what ways are you using online content and social media to enhance your team’s professional development?
  2. How do you see digital learning affecting the Army profession in the years to come?

Please feel free to comment on this post’s comment section, on Facebook, Twitter, or at the following survey link:

Take Me to the Survey!

Thank you so much for your time and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on digital learning in our Army. If you are interested in reading the latest official guidance regarding Army social media, click here. For the AUSA Annual Meeting site, click here.

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In Leadership, You Are a Consumer, a Producer…or Irrelevant

Today, I want to share a framework for thinking about personal development as a leader. It’s a “Lead, follow, or get out of the way” approach that shines the spotlight on the personal habits that grow leaders into a position of effectiveness. Here you go:

When it comes to personal leadership development,
you are a content consumer, a content producer…or irrelevant.


U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Clarence Washington, Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul security forces squad leader, takes accountability after an indirect fire attack in Qalat City, Zabul Province, July 27, 2010. Photo by U.S. Air Force Sr. Airman Nathanael Callon.

10 Ways to Start a Conversation About Leadership

Vince Lombardi wisely quipped, “The man on top of the mountain didn’t fall there.” Success does not happen by accident…and neither does becoming a leader. The road to meaningful influence is marked by deliberate steps to acquire knowledge, gain experience, and engage in ways that specifically relate to leadership. Followers can do this on their own, but leaders have a tacit responsibility to grow other leaders and must find ways to further the leadership development of those around them.


Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, talks to airmen following a field exercise at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, Aug. 2, 2016. The airmen are assigned to the 39th Security Forces Squadron base defense operations center. DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro.

11 Priceless Colin Powell Quotes

If you were a fly on the wall of my high school 20 years ago, you’d see me walking to class with a copy of Colin Powell’s My American Journey. And why Powell’s 600 page autobiography and not, for instance, a car magazine or the latest Pearl Jam album? Because I’m a leadership nerd, that’s why…and still am.

I already had my sights on a career in the military, but this book seized my attention. Powell recounts his memorable career from Vietnam Captain to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and in plain language delivers poignant leadership lessons relevant for every profession. It’s not an overstatement to say that it became a foundational resource for my leader development…my leadership bible.

Although I underlined text on nearly every page of My American Journey, here are the quotes that have had a lasting effect on my career and have shaped my own leadership journey.


Why Do Toxic Leaders Keep Getting Promoted?

Becoming a successful leader should mean more than just getting the mission done. It should also mean taking care of Soldiers and families and making a difference in the lives of those we lead. We don’t talk about it often, but that’s what we intuitively feel. Followers desire leaders who guide the team to accomplish the mission while respecting and inspiring them.

And what’s the common theme among toxic leaders who continue to ascend the ranks? They get the mission done but leave a trail of destruction in their wake. Bosses routinely fail to identify toxic subordinate commanders, but peers and subordinates always feel the impact. Why does this happen? Why do senior raters look down at subordinate leaders and see mission accomplishment but not the negative interactions they use to make it happen?


Arizona National Guard Soldiers from the 158th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade stand in formation on the field at Arizona State University’s Sun Devil Stadium, Dec. 7, 2014 in Tempe, Ariz. The formation, which was part of the Arizona National Guard Muster and Community Expo, was the first time in over a century Arizona Soldiers and Airmen assembled together in mass formation. Photo by Staff Sgt. Brian A. Barbour.

Misunderstanding Military Millennials

by Christopher Manganaro

Millennials have received a bad rap. The press and others believe millennials want something for nothing and have no work ethic. This myth has led many to believe that they cannot take criticism or lack the intestinal fortitude to serve in the Army. Like many generations before them, each have come with their own quirks and nuances. The Army magnifies these quirks, and unless properly identified and actioned, we risk dismissing the very leaders we are training to replace us one day.


U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Eric J. Radtke, a rifleman, scans the area outside of an objective during Exercise Hamel at Cultana Training Area, South Australia, Australia, July 7, 2016. Radtke, from Oak Creek, Wisconsin, is with Company C, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, Marine Rotational Force – Darwin. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Osvaldo L. Ortega III)

Stories of Failure – Undermining the First Sergeant

Anyone in search of success should plan on finding failure along the way. Not only should it be accepted as a matter of course, failure should be invited as an indicator of what works and what doesn’t. Those who never fail aren’t pushing themselves hard enough, as the saying goes.

But failure in leadership is tricky because leadership involves people. Catastrophic failure is not acceptable, but it’s helpful to fail just enough to learn good lessons without hurting your people. Then hopefully the lesson will stick with the leader throughout the career and benefit future organizations and their people. That’s how I learned a vital lesson about communication and trust.


Army 1SG Joshua Engel, First Sergeant for the 416th Theater Engineer Command, Headquarters Company.
Link to U.S. Army photo by SFC Michel Sauret.

Grow NOW! …with these 7 Podcast Interviews

Growth in the world begins with growth inside. Good leaders exhibit a moment to moment commitment to become something more than what they are. They read to learn. They engage to be challenged. They listen to be enlightened. Consequently, their followers’ growth is a reflection of that process.

In your quest to become more than you were yesterday, here are a few podcast interviews I’ve listened to lately that made me want to pull over the car and take notes. Enjoy!