An Air Force general’s guide to leadership

Here are some excellent insights for CEOs and other leaders from Brig. Gen. John E. Michel, the Commanding General, NATO Air Training Command-Afghanistan and Commander, 438th Air Expeditionary Wing, Kabul, Afghanistan. His four principles apply to leadership in general, not just complex undertakings:

Principle 1: Craft your vision in pencil, not ink.

Principle 2: Believe no job is too small or insignificant for anyone, especially you.

Principle 3: Remember that leaders should be generalists, not specialists.

Principle 4: Recognize that every interaction is an opportunity to equip, engage, empower, and inspire those around you.

Here’s an excerpt of his article. Read the entire piece at Harvard Business Review:

A Military Leader’s Approach to Dealing with Complexity

“The most effective leaders I’ve known or studied all share a common trait: they were unwilling to settle for the existing state of affairs. They believed with all their heart that what we focus on can become reality.

In my quarter-century of military service, I’ve been afforded the rare privilege of leading in a broad array of environments: commanding a 500-person special operations expeditionary air refueling group in the Middle East after 9/11; guiding a 7,000-person military community through a dramatic mission transformation in North Dakota; and leading men and women from 14 NATO nations in building a sustainable, independent Afghan Air Force in an active war zone—something that had never previously been attempted.

I know how daunting it can be to lead dedicated professionals to undertake complex endeavors, and I’ve lived the reality of trying to bring positive change to large, bureaucratic organizations. Here are four principles I’ve learned that can help you enhance your leadership while concurrently bringing out the best in those around you.”


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