The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs on leadership…

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs on leadership development. Loved this insight:

The way I describe leadership is your first ten or fifteen years in the military, you actually should spend most of your time leading down. You have an organization, which is accountable to you and responsible to you and looking to you for leadership, mentorship, advice, and guidance.

As you become a little more senior, we say the lieutenant colonel, colonel and above, you have to now pay some attention to leadership laterally. How do you get along with your peers? Because your peers, we build in interdependence into our institution. No one unit can do anything by itself. And so the more senior you become, you have to look laterally to build those relationships to be that team of teams.

And then when you get to where I am or a chief of a service or a combatant commander, the three and four star generals, you’re really spending a good bit of your time helping the institution and its civilian leaders (the Secretary of Defense, the National Security Advisor, the President of the United States) understand what we can do, what we can’t do and what we need in order to meet the interests of the United States in terms of national security.

So I do spend most of my time now exerting my personal intellect, energy, enthusiasm and influence (to the extent it can be called influence) up. Because if I don’t do that, then it doesn’t matter how effective I am working down.