Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The leader you become is based on the choices you make

“When it is all said and done, the kind of leader you become is up to you, based on the choices you make.”  Robert Gates urged future officers to make a conscious choice to lead “with common decency and respect for your subordinates.” It’s a leadership quality “so basic and simple that too often it’s forgotten.” 

"It’s tough to stick your neck out to do what’s right rather than what’s easy, convenient or popular. The hardest thing is to stand alone among your peers and senior officers,” he said, a pressure he warned will only get greater as they advance in rank.

“I think it’s very dangerous to surround yourself with people who tell you what a wonderful person you are,” he said. “I have seen too many people go down that road, and it’s disastrous.”


Steve said...

One LEADS people and MANAGES things. When it comes to convincing soldiers to throw their lives on the line the Inside-the-Beltway "leaders" often mistake the two. That is understandable - in some part - but the kids taking fire in Kabul or Basrah don't understand; to them, the "follow me!" spirit is what's necessary. . . not the call to social tinkering or timid temporizing. We have not learned how to stop human conflict and until that Star Trekian day,we need to have leaders like Patton, Puller, and Halsey who keep the managers' to-do lists active and demanding. As far as the politicaal vector in such a relationship, one recalls Lincoln's and Grant's Civil War neeting at which the general said domething like: "Sir, if the thing be pressed,f we can prevail." President Lincoln's response was succinct, clear, and deferential to his seniior general: "Then," he replied, let thing thing be pressed." To me, that is leadership from the top.

Anonymous said...


It is refreshing to hear an attitude such as yours today. I do not know what a wuss is, but my son, who is extremely active in law enforcement, told me that it would appear most of military leadership today are wuss's. I spent my entire Navy career pointing whatever weapons we had in the Navy toward our enemy of the time. It did not matter what the caliber of the weapon was, I was Plotting Room Officer on a couple of Gearing Class Destroyers, even though I was only an enlisted man, but the important thing about that was, I was competent and more than willing to do the job my country asked me to do. I advanced in my career and became senior Weaponeer on a SSBN where I again was responsible for keeping the main battery, this time nuclear armed missiles, aimed and ready to defend our country. It was the understanding of the Soviets that we were ready and capable of delivering our warheads that would wreak such damage on them that they would not survive as a threat to the free world.

A year or so ago my old Executive Officer contacted me and we made arrangements to meet at a restaurant here on Johns Island, South Carolina. It had been over 30 years since I had been responsible to obey his orders, and the first question he had of me was "Master Chief would you have pulled the firing key if it became necessary" I told him there was no doubt in my mind that I would have done as he had ordered. He smiled and said "thank you Master Chief I needed to know that". This officer told me he had spent over 7 years under water on submarines and I am indeed proud to have served for such an individual that did the job of protecting our country for many years.
Very Respectfully,

E. A. Hughes, FTCM (SS)
US Navy (Retired)

Anonymous said...

Captain Lambert,

When I see the reversals of opinion of the present SecDev I cannot help but shudder. He is the chameleon of the our military administrators. His latest change in attitude is to defend the recent appointment of Tom Donilon as National Security Chief, to replace the resigning Gen. James Jones. Just recently our illustrious SecDef, who served under Pres. Bush (a hawk of sorts) and now serves under Pres. Obama (a dove of no distinction). I do not understand how the man can do his job with any effectiveness due to the vertigo he must suffer from constant reversal. Not long ago SecDev Gates made the statement about Donilon, that he would be a disaster if appointed to the position.