As historian Hew Strachan states in The Direction of War, “Operational thinking finds its intellectual focus in doctrine.” Doctrine drives how leaders think and fight. But when the Army publishes new doctrine, as an institution we owe it to ourselves to do a better job informing, then educating, the Total Army force.
The question shouldn’t have been a surprise. “So, you just came from command. What did you learn?” Here was my chance to impart all the wisdom I had accumulated over the previous 18 years, culminating in command of a Navy Super Hornet squadron. “So, what did you learn?…”, the inquisitor repeated. “Um…” I sputtered. I had no clue what to say.
Military leaders are hard to buy gifts for. We’re busy, we’ve already got a lot of gear, and we don’t talk about what we need until we really need it. If you’re in a pinch to buy for someone in the military (or anyone else, for that matter), check out these easy gifts. I own each and swear by them.
No other book in recent memory has had a more immediate and valuable impact on me as a leader. It reframed how I view my own approach to leadership and gave me a valuable framework to teach others. The research-backed concept is simple: discover your strengths, lead through your strengths, and build your team around your strengths. Very powerful!
StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Gallup and Tom Rath
The best leaders don’t use anger as a leadership tool. Anger is not a mandatory component of leadership because there are countless examples of successful leaders who never get angry. Yet, we can think of many leaders whose anger has compromised their effectiveness. The question is: what does anger get you? And then at what cost?
It’s not often that we find good Thanksgiving-related reading, but Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick is definitely worth checking out.
In vivid detail, Philbrick describes the tumultuous voyage of the Mayflower, the near catastrophe of the first winter in Plymouth, and the struggle for survival that was the first few years in the New World. Philbrick takes you off the boat and into the water as our famously “harmonious” Pilgrims scavenged off the land, stole from the native Americans, and sparked years of bloody war. It’s not the story you read in school.
For me, the most incredible realization was that the birth of our Nation might never had happened if not for a storm that blew the Mayflower off course and prevented them from reaching the British colonies down the coast.
Then, that William Bradford insisted on a pledge with the Dutch voyagers aboard that none would disembark unless they committed to survive together, not as separate national groups. This agreement, known as The Mayflower Compact, not only enabled their collective survival, but was quite literally the seed of democracy in America.
It’s an incredible story and well worth your time. Check it out!
You’ve got a wall full of departure gifts from units past. Framed unit colors…a few coins, badges, and patches…a metal placard with your name and a pleasant inscription. They’re nice, professional…but they’re predictable. It’s time to break the mold…
Check out the Roman Rudis from Purpleheart Armory.
The Rudis brings to life the 2,500 year old tradition of presenting retiring gladiators of the Roman Empire with a wooden replica of their primary weapon, the gladius. (In the movie Gladiator, Proximo reveals to Maximus the he too was a gladiator, displaying his rudis as the symbol of his freedom.)
Purpleheart Armory expertly crafts this Rudis from domestic hardwood like Oak, Maple, and Ash, then engraves up to 5 lines of customized inscription. Unit logos, service seals, rank, branch insignia, and other tailored images give it a personal but professional feel, and unmatched uniqueness. And of course, the Rudis is 100% made in the USA.
Present the Rudis to celebrate departures, arrivals, milestones, accomplishments, or to reward unit competition. I like giving the Rudis to retiring friends and colleagues to symbolize their “freedom” from military life.
Get 5% Off Your Rudis
Purpleheart Armory has a special offer for The Military Leader community. Get a 5% discount when you use the coupon code: TheMilitaryLeader. This is the coolest military gift I’ve ever seen and gets a “Wow!” every time it’s presented. If you don’t need one now, be sure to bookmark this post for a future order.
Leadership is as diverse as the individuals who exercise it. We influence through distinct talents, shaped by experiences, personality traits, core values, and an endless list of other factors. Nonetheless, when we look back at the leaders we’ve encountered, it’s easy to identify behavior trends that point to a set of defining leadership styles. The aggressive risk taker. The deliberate planner. The encouraging coach. The intense micromanager.
Each profession has its own set of styles that generally lead to success. The military is no different. Here are three types of military leaders you’ll find that, for better or worse, produce results.
Sometime next week, The Military Leader will crest 1,000,000 page views. The 7-digit milestone is an important one, partly because 1,000,000 feels like a really big number. But of greater significance is the realization that on at least 1,000,000 occasions since March 2014, people have visited the site and participated in a conversation about leadership.
These conversations may have happened with a group of developing young leaders…or perhaps huddled around a mobile phone at the firing range…or simply alone in the office, as part of an early morning professional development routine. Regardless of the setting, it’s uplifting to know that people are reading, thinking, and talking about leadership.
And why is this important?