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

    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.

    • Michael “Mick” Mayers

      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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Michael "Mick" Mayers

Deputy Fire Chief - Operations Division for Hilton Head Island (SC) Fire Rescue and an Emergency Response Coordinator with the United States Department of Health and Human Services  National Disaster Medical System Incident Response Coordination Team.
Recent Posts
Heard This Story Before? August 24, 2014
Jumping Through Hoops August 4, 2014
Questioning Heroism July 13, 2014
Compassion July 2, 2014
Colin Fanning
The Roto-Ray: Beauty or Beast?
One of the most important facts we reviewed when deciding on the roto ray purchase was this; With the speeds of traffic on SC 278, by the time people heard the sirens on our fire trucks our light bars (on top of the roof) were out of sight. The roto ray, with its mounted location…
2014-07-25 15:07:00
Mick Mayers
Questioning Heroism
Thanks, Bryan! I genuinely believe I do and they tend to reward me with professionalism, innovation, and compassion to our citizens daily. That's something I am happy to facilitate.
2014-07-15 04:10:00
Bryan G. Riebe
Questioning Heroism
Chief, appreciated in your response to Geoff that you work for the FFs. Believe if more Chiefs lived that philosophy our fire services would be bastions of honor, ethics, and human potential.
2014-07-15 00:05:00
Christopher Roy
Questioning Heroism
Geoff, EMS, as its own service, does not have a strong voice and in turn, does not get the respect in the media/public that it does deserve. I do hope that changes. EMS doesn't have a home either, and that doesn't help. There are so many different delivery methods in this country that its probably…
2014-07-14 23:49:00
Mick Mayers
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I'm sorry you feel that way, Geoff. The department I work with has been doing EMS (advanced care AND transport) with cross-trained personnel for over twenty years and doing a pretty good job. Our community expects a certain level of service that we have been able to provide through that model and while not every…
2014-07-14 22:01:00

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Although I am affiliated or employed by certain entities, I in no way speak in this forum or others on behalf of those entities unless I have specifically stated such. Any implication otherwise is doing so contrary to my agreements with those entities. The result is that the observations and opinions by myself or on behalf of Firehouse Zen are not sanctioned by any other entity other than Graffiti Train Sherpa Publications and are protected by the copyright laws of the United States of America.

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