Sunday, March 7, 2010

Petraeus on Leadership I

The Washington Post has a great site for video interviews with key leaders on significant leadership topics. Most recently, the interviews at "On Leadership" have provided some interesting insights from Army General Petraeus. You know him as the 4-star commander of the US Central Command, the author of the "surge" in Iraq, and the leader of the Coalition Military Forces in the Middle East during some very difficult and trying times.

Take a listen to his comments here. You will be interested to learn of:

-- How they dealt with difficult news, an all too familiar event in Iraq and now in Afghanistan. Leaders have to be able to put setbacks into context. They have to be able to learn from negative events without being defined by them.

-- Lessons learned from New York City Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, about tending to small problems before they become much larger ones. Often, the discipline to do small things right has much larger implications for the team. Reminds me of a quote I learned long ago in my military career: "When you walk by a mistake without making a correction, you have just defined the new standard."

-- The concept of "Strategic Sergeants," meaning that the actions of low ranking members of the team can have potentially strategic impacts on the overall mission. When we value the contributions of each of our "troopers," training them to think strategically even while acting tactically, they will operate within the context of the bigger picture and enable the overall success of the operation.

The General has certainly learned more than his fair share of lessons on leadership -- in his distinguished career and during the very difficult trials of the last 7 years. While he is not likely to take credit for his successes, they are many. His emphasis on leadership -- focused on inspiring excellence and enabling the success of the "troopers" -- certainly gives us confidence in the mission and those whom he leads. That's Leader Business.

P.S. Today, 7 March 2010, is voting day in Iraq. Iraqis are conducting their first parliamentary elections as a sovereign, democratic nation. The bravery of the Iraqi people, and the "troopers" who endeavor under General Petraeus' leadership to give freedom a chance, will be on full display today. Please keep them all in your thoughts and prayers!

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