Attributes of Generals

Zhuge Kongming said, "Advance and retreat are a matter of timing- military affairs are not directed by the ruler but by the general. Therefore, there is no heaven above, no earth below, no adversary ahead and no ruler behind. If generals can be like this, people will be willing to fight when they give the orders, and the enemy will be defeated before any blood is shed. Look upon your soldiers as beloved children, and they will willingly die with you.

I don't need my people to die with me to do their job, but look at it more along the lines of discipline and respect.  "When you can be like this", your people will follow you wherever you need them to go and will do whatever it takes to create success.  This has been my credo for a very long time.  Whenever I get a new officer under me, I share it with them and explain the meaning of it.

Once someone asked one of my colleagues if I really lived this stuff or if I was full of crap.  My colleague told me he said I not only talked the talk, but walked the walk.  It's one of the finest compliments I think I have ever heard.  I try to lead with integrity and while I expect much from my people, I know they expect much from me as well.  I am not kidding when I say that I am truly embarrassed when I let them down somehow, and that does happen from time to time.

Try to lead as if not only your life depends upon your ability to command, but as if your subordinates' lives do too, because their lives DO depend on it.  Learn your craft, know how to lead and command, and strive for excellence.



  • Chris says:

    Mick, you always have a great kernel of advice and wisdom to share with leaders and those who aspire to leadership.  I once knew an officer who was just that kind of leader:  he led from the front with integrity, walked the walk (as opposed to just talking the talk without any kind of action), he was a great listener, and was always willing to share his wisdom and experience to anyone who asked and would listen.  Even though he had a gold badge, he never felt he was too high and exalted to put on his work gloves and get into the trenches with the troops.  And, unlike most officers who might be quick to punish me harshly for my mistakes in my months as a probie, he tried to coach me along.  He was a professional of the highest degree.

    Unfortunately, this individual left our department several months ago, so I am no longer able to readily seek him out.  But I strive to continue to carry the spirit of his words of wisdom and leadership style with me.  My hope is that I may become a leader like him one day.

    • Thanks for reading! I can only share what has been shared with me; nothing I have to say is original as it has been said for centuries and centuries. It’s just a matter of framing it in a way that we can relate to it in today’s world.

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