Permitted but Useless

In the midst of a pleasant two-week road trip with my family, I observed something of note. Interrupting my view of the rolling grasslands of central Oregon and the twisting turns of California’s Highway 101, were “Adopt-A-Highway” signs. Standard issue:  small, square. Oregon’s were green. You’ve seen them. Some person or group pays the state for the responsibility of keeping this particular mile clean and in return, gets free advertising.

useless information

Speaking When Angry (Habit Series #7)

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?


Marine Corps Cpl. Benjamin Peagler yells out an order to his team while participating in a platoon assault drill as a part of Exercise Cold Response 16 on range U-3 in Frigard, Norway, Feb. 23, 2016. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Rebecca Floto.

The Bee, the Brain, & the Bully

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.


A Marine points in the direction of the next objective on a security patrol during an Integrated Training Exercise aboard Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., July 19, 2015. Link to photo.

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.

McChrystal and a Grain of Salt

by Thomas Meyer (Hay in the Barn Leader)

Stanley McChrystal (retired General and Managing Partner at McChrystal Group) recently posted a LinkedIn article, How I Keep Up with an Unrelenting Work Pace. The article was published February 1, 2016 and is receiving excessive praise from many. It is also receiving criticism from those who note the inherent risks of applying strategic level leadership experiences without thought or reflection. Here are some things you should pay attention to when reading McChrystal’s article.


Photo from FastCompany.

Starting with “No, But, or However” (Habit Series #5)

The fifth habit that Marshall Goldsmith discusses in What Got You Here Won’t Get You There is all about telling people they’re wrong. Leaders do it, a lot, and often without realizing it’s happening. This habit is also about telling the truth and providing clarity, but before we dive into the details, imagine this scenario.


Mr. Roger Astin, exercise scenario manager of U.S. Army South,
briefs a group of multinational officials during PKO North ’08, MANAGUA, Nicaragua. Photo by Maj. Tim Stewart.

I Admit It…I Forgot How to Workout

If you look at the picture below and can’t remember the last time you felt like that…this post is for you. The picture is a scene of pure exhaustion, of being tested well beyond your comfort zone, of giving more than you thought was possible. It’s discipline, passion, commitment, and courage, all in one moment.

(I hope) we have all been there before, maybe in Basic Training, or on a unit obstacle course, or during a short-lived flirt with CrossFit ten years ago. Combat arms schools test their students with exhaustive rites of passage to see if, somewhere down inside, they will have what it takes to survive the battlefield.

Leaders go through these trials, then as we become more senior we have the flexibility to avoid them. There are fewer and fewer people in a position to challenge us. The responsibility for pushing the limits shifts to the individual and what happens?…capability typically diminishes. We don’t continue the test and we get soft.

This is what happened to me.


CORONADO, Calif. (April 11, 2011) – Students from Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/s) Class 288 participate in log physical training (log PT) during the First Phase of training at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado. Log PT is one of many physically demanding evolutions and has remained a part of BUD/s throughout the history of SEAL training.
(U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kyle D. Gahlau/Released)