Dr. John E. Johnson

Dr. John E. Johnson
Blog, Leadership

Leadership Lessons from the Battlefield

In his recent book, Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead, former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis shares a number of lessons he has learned about leadership. Most come from his years fighting terrorism in the Middle East. All are habits ingrained in him over his decades of leading others. These are not exhaustive, but there are twenty that stand out as I read his story. Many are applicable to the spiritual battles we face on a daily basis–

1-There are three fundamentals of leadership—

a-competence-leaders are those brilliant in the basics

b-caring-when followers know you care, they will follow you on almost every road

c-conviction-leaders with a sense of purpose instill a sense of commitment in those who follow

2-Unless everyone owns the mission, leaders will fail to complete the mission

3-Decisions must be made at the speed of relevance

-made too soon or too late—and they are irrelevant and change nothing

4-Operations occur at the speed of trust

-without faith in the one leading, one’s leadership becomes obsolete

5-In any organization, it’s all about selecting the right team

6-Success in war—as in life—requires seizing and maintaining the initiative

7-Prepare meticulously–battlefields are unforgiving of mistakes

8-Fundamental to leadership is the willingness to relieve someone of their command if their leadership impedes the mission

9-An enemy will always move against your perceived weakness

10-A leader’s role is problem-solving–if you don’t like problems, stay out of leadership

11-Strength comes with unity of effort—far better having people inside the tent pissing out than outside pissing in

12-Wars don’t wait until you are ready—the way you win or deter wars is by always being ready

13-Lack of time to reflect can be a leader’s biggest deficiency—for contemplation allows leaders to see the overarching pattern, fitting details into the larger situation

14-Wise leaders deal with reality, state what they intend, and declare what level of commitment they are willing to invest in achieving that end

15-Never tell an enemy what you will not do

16-Never have only one course of action—wise leaders always build in options

17-Power tends to flow to the organized—not the idealists

18-Better to have a friend with deep flaws than an adversary with enduring hostility

19-If the strategy is wrong, than the skill, the valor, and the brilliance of victory fail of their effect 

20-Speed is essential because time is the least forgiving, least recoverable factor in any contest



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