General MacArthur Leadership Award

Alumni Reflections on Leadership


IF YOU COULD GIVE A YOUNG LEADER ONE PIECE OF LEADERSHIP ADVICE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“…Treat them [your subordinates] with dignity and respect…you don’t have to make your subordinates do their job…they volunteered, they want to do their job…because they are professionals and because they trust and respect you…”
COL Paul F. Abel, Jr., 1988

“Become knowledgeable on the issue, then lead.”
CW2 Jose Ahumada, 2008

“Take care of your Soldiers. They are the most valuable and lethal resource we have in the Army. Don’t caudle them but motivate and inspire them to be leaders. Treat them with respect and correct them when needed but most of all care for them ALWAYS!”
MAJ Timothy D. Aiken, 2002

“…always focus on how you can best take care of the Soldiers under your care. It doesn’t mean being their friends or being soft. It means making hard, deliberate choices on how best to train them, lead them, and support them.”
MAJ Nicholas E. Ayers, 2004

“Leadership is all about relationships. Leaders must go to extraordinary lengths to help ordinary people. It is not about you, it is all about what you do to help others become successful.”
LTC Bernard B. Banks, 1994

“Stay flexible and find a level-headed mentor to emulate.”
MAJ Christopher S. Baril, 2001

“Have passion for what we do… and if you can’t, go sell insurance or something. That doesn’t mean going around screaming at your troops, it means that this job is similar to a calling to the priesthood. The old line about never getting rich is true and if you don’t do this because you care about what we do and have a need for meaning in your life, your troops will see it and you’ll never be as effective. A good friend and former NCO mentor in my first unit as a lieutenant put it succinctly: ‘You don’t always gotta like it, but you always have to love it.’ I haven’t heard it put any better since.”
LTC Edmund Barrett, 1999

“Trust your subordinates, empower your leaders, and underwrite honest mistakes.”
MAJ Kevin S. Beagle, 2005

“Always take care of Soldiers and always do the right thing.”
MAJ Julia Bell, 2004

“Be a mentor and lead by example. I carried this mantra while in Kuwait in 2004 as a contractor and came upon a group of Soldiers providing security at the main gate at Camp Arifjan, “horsing around”. I got out of my vehicle, took control of the group, and got their attention focused back on being an attentive guard force in a hostile area.”
LTC (Ret) Jamie Brotherton, 1995

“You serve as the moral/ethical compass of your organization; set, maintain, and enforce high standards of conduct and performance.”
LTC Willard M. Burleson, 1995

“If a young officer is going to be successful…it will require sacrifice. This sacrifice will come in the ability to devote time away from their civilian occupation, their family, and their religious commitment. A Soldier must be able to balance those three commitments and their military commitment all at the same time, in many cases.”
COL Steven J. Campfield, 1994

“Have integrity, do what is right legally/morally and ethically each and every time even when no one is watching. Your Soldier[s] will definitely know if you are a leader by your actions. Remember: a leader does not ask a Soldier to follow; the Soldier will voluntarily follow a leader.”
LTC Michele Cianci, 1996

“Stay in line units as long as you can, and take care of your Soldiers.”
COL David L. Clark, 1991

“Never stop making yourself better. Someday, people are going to rely on you to be a little bit faster, a little bit stronger, a little bit smarter than you are today. Don’t let them down.”
CPT Rashan Clark, 2008

“Leadership is a thread of trust between you and the led. You can never allow [the] thread to break…you are responsible for the tension and intensity of the pressure applied to each individual whom you lead. Each individual is different and a blanket style is ineffective. Trust your gut and accomplish the most important task your Country has given you. Make those who you lead accomplish the mission at hand and make them better for the effort!”
LTC Richard Coffman, 1998

“Although it sounds cliché and simple, always ‘train for war’. Always have a sense of urgency in training and preparing your unit for combat because sooner or later, you’re going, and you had better be ready. Leaders owe that to their troops.”
CPT Jeffrey D. Cole, 2004

“Be yourself and never stop learning…it’s what you learn after you think you know it all that really counts.”
LTC Doug Crissman, 1996

“Truly invest yourself in your people. Say you care and actually mean it. Know ALL of your Soldiers, to the greatest detail possible. Operate within your higher commander’s intent but take care of your people above all else.”
MAJ Mirko L. Crnkovich, 2003

“You may have committed an act of leader yesterday, but tomorrow you start over again. To become a leader you must give utmost attention to integrity, strive for lofty goals, act loyally to those around you, work hard, demonstrate determination and project self-confidence. Each day, you must lay this foundation again. Leadership is a project you will never finish.”
CPT Cal Cunningham, 2008

“The United States Army has the best NCOs in the world. They are a great resource for you. Listen to them and weigh their advice heavily in your decisions.”
MAJ Joel L. Dillon, 2004

“Leadership is a lifestyle and not something you turn off, at the end of the day. In order to successfully lead, you must be focused on your mission, tenacious to achieve the right results, and confident that your Soldiers will help you get where you need to go.”
CPT Jeffrey Duncan, 2008

“Do the right thing - lead by example always and remember that the Nation has entrusted to you her greatest treasure. You may not get time to train ‘for real’ or to do it again ‘seriously’. Train like it is your last chance, and show the discipline that young Soldiers’ lives deserve.”
MAJ Joseph M. Ewers, 2004

“Be yourself - [you] can’t fake it or you’ll fail. If you’re not as good as you’d like, you have to change/improve; you can’t just act the part.”
LTC Mike Farrell, 1998

“Never quit…stick to it and persevere.”
MAJ Carl A. Fassbender, 2001

“Think of your subordinates first and always first. Live by the saying, ‘the first shall be last and the last shall be first’ and you will automatically be successful. When the troops know that you have THEIR best interests at heart…they respect you to the point that they will defend you against the world and will do anything for you. I have always had a problem with the ‘mission, men, me’ scenario. I always thought that it should be ‘men, mission, me’. Without the men, you can’t accomplish the mission.”
MAJ Cheley Anne Gabriel, 2000

“…Good leaders…maintain balance in their lives – mental, physical, spiritual…setting the example still remains the most important characteristic of a great leader in all of these areas.”
LTC (P) Randy George, 1996

“Stay focused on a long-term career in the Army. There will be many times throughout your life and career where you will second guess the sacrifices you have made of your time and family; however, always remember that…serving your Nation is an honor and a privilege. Many do not understand that freedom is not free and it takes volunteers like yourselves to continue the time-honored tradition of protecting the Nation and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice before you.”
LTC James H. Griffiths, 1995

“Live a principled and servant/participative leadership style, realizing always that it’s never your position or duty description that defines/makes you a leader, but rather the subordinates with whom you’ve been charged to serve. Who you are as a leader is reflected first in your subordinates’ performance, not your boss’s acknowledgements.”
MAJ John H. Grimes, 1999

“Be yourself and trust your instincts.”
MAJ Herman Haggray, 1997

“Always take care of your Soldiers…this will mean tough training and many days in the field, but ultimately it will bring them together as a team and may…save their lives. ”
COL James W. Harrison, Jr., 1987

“…Soldiers know if you are passionate about what you do – so pour yourself into it.”
LTC Paul Hastings, 1996

“The single biggest impact you can have as a leader is with your attitude. A positive attitude is contagious and your men want you to be honest and aggressive. There is no room for cynicism. Your men will emulate you. Be the leader they deserve.”
CPT Jimmy Howell, 2008

“It is important for young leaders to lead by example and to train like [they] are going to fight!! PCC’s & PCI’s are very important before conducting any mission. Plan and execute to standard. Be diversified as an officer and most of all take care of your Soldiers, and they in turn will take care of you and the mission!! Award them in public and discipline them in private…”
MAJ Michael A. Izzo, 2003

“Actively seek a mentor – don’t wait for one to be ‘assigned.’ Mentorship is not a program that can be designed and executed like an additional duty. At its essence, it is about finding two or three folks whom you trust, being honest with them, and fostering a relationship that yields great advice, perspective, and career-long support. I absolutely believe that having 2 mentors – one a colonel now and one a retired 1SG – allows me to keep focused on the bigger picture of leadership no matter [the] frustration or confusion day-to-day operations bring about. Mentorship is a two-way street; it is initiated by the subordinate and carefully preserved by the senior.”
MAJ Ryan M. Janovic, 2001

“It is all about your “heart.” If your heart is not really into leading Soldiers, [they] will sense that; some right away, but most eventually. If your heart is really in it, Soldiers sense it and respond. If it isn’t, no amount of textbook correct leadership techniques will make you a good leader and Soldiers will know it from the outset. Always [do] the right thing for the right reason (the right reason rarely, if ever, involves self satisfaction).”
LTC (Ret) Bill Jones, 1990

“Seek some balance between your faith, your family, and your service to the Nation.”
LTC (Ret) Harry E. “Skip” Jones, 1994

“Be a leader and not one of the boys. Be the moral compass of your unit. Go with your instinct on decisions. Lead from the front and set the example. ”
LTC Matthew G. Karres, 1998

“Take care of your people (always have their best interests at heart). Listen. Be the example. Set high standards. Adapt and overcome. Trust your instincts. Find a mentor (or two). Clean your own weapon.”
CPT Melissa Lashbrook, 2008

“Through hard work, dedication and being the best officer that he or she [can] be…anything is possible.”
MAJ David C. Lyles, 2000

“Do what you feel is right to train your Soldiers regardless of regulations, but be willing to pay the price if you are wrong. My personal test was always to consider how I would explain my actions in an accident investigation.”
MAJ Bradley O. Martsching, 2002

“It is not about you, it is about your subordinates trusted in your charge.”
LTC John B. McNally, 1991

“Do not underestimate your own potential. Most people sell themselves short or downplay their ability to make a difference…Although I love the serenity quote of, ‘God grant me the courage to change the things I can, the patience to accept the things I can’t and the wisdom to know the difference’…most people err too much on the side of patience and acceptance. Margaret Meade said…‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.’ Her quote is a mantra to continue to shape the environments…to achieve a climate where everyone on the team can thrive and achieve their potential.”
LTC Steven Miska, 1996

“Be yourself, don’t try and be something you are not.”
LTC Rodney S. Morris, 1995

“Understand that one cannot ‘personally’ do all that is expected of him/her. Therefore, he/she MUST be able to clearly articulate intent, guidance and direction to delegated subordinate leaders; develop a process to train and certify delegated subordinate leaders; establish forcing mechanisms that facilitate mission accomplishment; and follow-up regularly to ensure ultimate success.”
MAJ Terrence L. Murrill, 1999

“In my current command, I see leadership failure every day…last year I did 20 field grade Art 15s in 4 months and in many cases, officers failed those Soldiers…‘Always’ do what must be done. Command is lonely and doing right is not always popular. Whether staff or command, this is a profession where we…are given the greatest responsibility of all, we are charged with taking care of Soldiers. So know your job, keep reading, keep your ears and eyes open, be uncomfortable, and conduct your own personal daily AAR.”
MAJ Kerry E. Norman, 1998

“Focus on the mission and your Soldiers, nothing else matters. Resource and develop challenging combat focused training and always prepare for the worst case situations. Be prepared to sacrifice personal time to focus on your Soldiers and their families, because they deserve it. Serving as a Platoon Leader or Company Commander is a privilege, not a right.”
CPT Erik Oksenvaag, 2008

“ ‘Listen.’ I think we make so much out of using certain leadership styles and philosophies in the Army that we forget some basic tenants of human nature. A leader just has to listen to people - superiors, subordinates, and peers - and they will tell you what they need. All you have to do is help them get what they need or inspire them to help themselves. It sounds simplistic, but people tend to perform better when they know that you are listening and will try to help them. I have yet to regret using this leadership ‘style’. We always seem to get everything done on time, to standard, and with people still in a pretty good mood.”
MAJ Lane Packwood, 2004

“Take care of your Soldiers, your family, and yourself. Never stop learning. Once you think you’ve got it, the conditions will change. Selfless service is the key to success. Maintain tactical patience in all situations and treat everyone with dignity and respect.”
MAJ Kimberly Peeples, 2003

“Don’t be afraid to admit you are wrong when you are. It will build respect of your subordinates, not diminish it.”
COL Steven W. Peterson, 1987

“Don’t rely on any other officer to develop or help your career. Mentors should be considered to be catalysts to propel you to new levels of performance, but the management and path you take is up to yourself. If the drive, technical and tactical knowledge exists, there is no limit to the level you can achieve.”
MAJ William J. Prendergast IV, 2001

“I would advise our young leaders to never compromise their integrity because it is the backbone of leadership!”
LTC (P) A.C. Roper, 1996

“Take care of Soldiers…‘caring’ means…knowing when to push the unit and when to back off; it means knowing when to be tough…Caring is leading from the front, setting the standard, and playing by the same rules as everyone else.”
LTC (P) Robert M. Roth, 1995

“It doesn’t matter what branch or MOS you have, it is all about leadership. Leadership is about taking care of Soldiers, families, and most of all, the mission. Do the hard right versus the easy wrong and prepare your men to survive and not just meet the standard. The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win.”
CPT David Santos, 2008

“Trust your NCOs and let them teach you what right looks like. Love your Soldiers like they are your children. Never ask (or direct) a subordinate to do anything you wouldn’t…”
MAJ Craig L. Schuh, 2001

“Let your gut be your guide in almost all matters - we almost always know…the right thing to do…[we] just sometimes don’t want to make that harder choice…when your gut is not telling you what to do, ensure you…surround [yourself] with trusted advisors, be it a first sergeant, sergeant major, XO, or peer, [and] seek their counsel.”
LTC David T. Seigel, 1997

“Be confident in your abilities, but humble in your actions. A phrase I always use is for one to maintain a ‘humble cockiness’ attitude towards life – especially in order to be a successful leader.”
MAJ Andrew J. “Coby” Short, 2004

“Push the envelope. Your Soldiers can achieve more than you or they believe possible if you just push. Risk is ok but it must be mitigated with forethought. Risk avoidance can result in stale, lethargic, just plodding-along results.”
BG Michael J. Silva, 1987

“Always do the right thing! Never compromise your integrity! Look out for the well being of your Soldiers and their families. Stay committed and persevere despite the seemingly hopeless circumstances you may find yourself in.”
MAJ (P) Louis J. Snowden, 1996

“Take initiative, make decisions, and trust your instincts. We don’t allow enough of our junior leaders to lead without keeping them in a box.”
MAJ Adam C. Steelhammer, 2003

“Making decisions is easy, its dealing with the ramifications of those decisions that makes you a leader.”
CW2 David Storer, 2008

“Don’t waste your time telling your boss how good of [a] job you have done or how good of a job you are going to do, and spend more time making a positive difference with and for your Soldiers.”
MAJ Craig W. Strong, 2003

“Take the hard jobs and systematically dissect the core of [their] challenges and build success into the job. Do not just do the job well while you are in it; make it a personal challenge to document and set systems in place. Base your success not only on how well you perform in the job, but on how well you set your successor up for even greater success.”
MAJ Darrell L. Sydnor, 1999

“Always put the welfare of your Soldiers first, especially in combat. We often hear ‘mission first,’ but that is misleading and makes it sound as if the mission is more important than the Soldiers. Your Soldiers will know if you don’t care about them and that could easily translate into lessened performance. Thus, if you really care about the mission, then truly care about your Soldiers.”
LTC (P) John Tien, 1996

“No one cares what you know until they know that you care! Not my own, but certainly I have centered my leadership style [on] this.”
MAJ Paul Thusius, 1997

“…Mission and compassion can go together in a successful and effective manner. ”
CPT Virginia Venturi, 2005

“Always be true to yourself. Soldiers will know when you are trying to be someone you are not.”
MAJ Jason J. Wallace, 2003

“…after several years as an enlisted Soldier, [a philosophy I developed was]: know and understand the difference between principle and technique…principles include security, communication, sense of urgency, command and control…If the technique…does not meet the principle…choose another technique…Know and understand the strengths and differences between experience and knowledge; experience is not always the best teacher and neither does the book always provide the best answer.”
MAJ Mark M. Weber, 2002

“Try to make a positive impact as a leader every day. Get up every morning with the attitude of how to make our Army a better Army.”
LTC Rufus Woods, 1996