Friday, November 4, 2016

General Norman Schwarzkopf Jr. - On Leadership

I recently got access to an old hard drive and have found some wonderful stuff – photos, things I wrote but had forgotten, etc.


I don’t know when I wrote this but thought, as we head towards the end of 2016 you might find this interesting.


On Leadership

When General Norman Schwarzkopf Jr. was he was Commander-in-Chief, United States Central Command, he was the top person on an organizational chart of 810,000 people!  After he retired, I had the opportunity of being the audience at an industry event where General Schwarzkopf was the keynote speaker.  I don’t know what I expected but he was as down-to-earth as could be.  I liked him very much and felt fortunate to be there. 

I vividly remember him walking out on the stage – without being announced and starting like this:

”My wife and I have two dogs.  An 80-pound German Shepherd and a 12-pound Dachshund.  We’re very proud of our German Shepherd as he was chosen to be a ‘pin-up’ on next year’s Purina Dog Chow calendar.  If I asked you, “Which of our two dogs is the leader in our household?” I can probably guess what most of you would say. What my wife Brenda and I observe is this:  When our 80-pound German Shepherd looks out, he sees a 12-pound Dachshund…and he believes that’s who he is too.  When our 12-pound Dachshund looks out, he sees an 80-pound German Shepherd and believes that’s who he is.  Who’s the leader?  It’s all a matter of perception.”
Many of you are leaders and aspiring leaders in your company but can you imagine what the General’s challenges must have been?

Here are some of my takeaways from his speech.  I thought you might find something that resonates with you too:

1.           Great leaders are ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances.

2.           Perception is reality:
a.           Think of yourself as a leader.
b.           Management is not leadership.
c.            Leaders lead people.  They do not lead organizations.

3.           The Challenge of Leadership:
a.           To get people to willingly do what they ordinarily would not do.
b.           It’s not always the person who thinks they’re the leader (by title) that is the leader. It’s the person people turn to in time of crisis.

4.           The ingredients of leadership:
a.           Competence
b.           Character

5.           In times of crisis leaders lead by example.

6.           We all want to be led by someone who is special; someone who is respected by their organization, someone who makes things happen.  Someone who takes responsibility.

7.           The true rewards of leadership come from leadership itself…not from fiscal, physical or tangible rewards.

8.           No organization will ever get better until leadership is willing to admit that something is wrong.

9.           Leaders focus resources on what is broken

10.       Leaders establish goals for their organization.  But goals are only meaningful if:
a.           Everyone understands them
b.           Everyone understands his or her role.

11.       Leaders stay focused on the one goal they have before them.  Goals can always be changed later.

12.       Leaders focus talent and resources on what’s really important.

13.       Leaders focus their organization on the goal.

14.       Standards?  Set them high. Successful leaders establish high standards of performance.

15.       Leaders let people understand what is expected of them.

16.       Everybody goes to work to succeed.  Success is establishing standards and meeting them.

17.       Failure is contagious.  Success is infectious.

18.       Leaders reinforce success in their organization.

19.       Leaders also accept mistakes.

20.       Leaders establish a ‘latitude to learn’ in their organizations.

21.       Great leaders don’t tell people how to do their jobs.  They empower people.  They give them the authority and the resources to succeed.  They let them use their initiative.

22.       The General’s Rule #13: When placed in command, take charge; make something happen, take responsibility.

23.       Washington, DC is the only place in the world where you can run for 10 miles in a straight line and still be at the scene of the crime!

24.       The General’s Rule #14: Do what’s right.

25.       Great things can happen when you do what’s right.

We all know people who we look to for leadership.  What are the qualities that we see in them?  Do others see those same qualities in us?  How do we know?  Have we tried to give people that work with us a chance to grow their own leadership qualities?

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