This post of final installment of a 3-part series on the leadership skills of those returning from active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The nine quotes listed below come from Joe Klein’s article in the recent Time Magazine.  To read Part 1 and Part 2, please click the hotlinks.

  • The main reason why I chose West Point over Yale is that it was a complete experience, not just academically but a serious challenge – and in leadership as well.  You get real responsibility very quickly: in Germany, I was 22 and leading 30 people who didn’t have a college education.  And I had to make it work.  Most of the college grads I know who didn’t join the military don’t know 30 people without a college education.” – Liz McNally
  • These are the most diverse and extraordinary people I’ve ever met.  I’d love to see the values and ethics of the military spread into the general population.” – Dr. Richard Young
  • People have the wrong impression of the military.  It is extremely entrepreneurial.  I had more freedom to make decisions there than I do at Citibank.  My commander would tell me what needed to be done, and then it was up to me to figure out how to do it.” – Wes Moore
  • “We were taught to write a five-paragraph memo.  I still use it whenever I have a major decision to make…Situation: What’s the problem?  Mission: What’s our strategy for solving it?  Execution: What tactics are we going to use?  Support: What are the logistics; how may troops and what sort of equipment will we need?  Command: What other organizations will have to be involved.” – Moore
  • “It’s difficult to leave the military and not come out bored.  There’s a significant letdown, which is a big part of the psychological problems so many of us have.  In civilian life, you miss the sense of excitement and purpose and camaraderie.” – Moore
  • No decision you’ll ask them to make (in business) will be harder than decisions they’ve already experienced.” – Brian Stann
  • “There was a lot of looting and chaos (in Haiti after the earthquake).  Other relief agencies don’t like those sorts of situations, but we’d seen a lot worse. We know how to do chaos.  We’re Marines.” – William McNulty
  • “I rented a chainsaw, and within 20 minutes it felt like I was back in the service again (after the Alabama tornadoes).  We shared a common language and knew how to organize ourselves to work efficiently…We’re used to sleeping on the ground; other people aren’t…Our generation of vets isn’t really into joining organizations life the VFW or the Legion, but we do have a need to share our stories and experiences.  When we go out on these disaster-relief mission, it’s very therapeutic – and we’re doing something tangible and immediate to help people.” – Ford Sypher
  • You’re a Marine captain.  Figure it out.” – David Callaway to Seth Moulton on how to organize medical relief in Haiti

Leaders, figure it out!!!  I hope you print out and save this 3-part series.  The veterans returning from the Middle East are teaching us all about leadership.  What have you learned from this series?

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