Dempsey Addresses CEOs On Challenges Of Leadership By Jim Garamone

DeM Banter:  Not sure what to think about this…Competence, loyalty, trust, responsibility and accountability… the CJCS goes on to say, “I think we forgot a little about how we balance character and competence…”  “There have been missteps recently that we are trying to overcome — missteps that I attribute to 10 years of frenetic activity — and I think we forgot a little about how we balance character and competence…” Encourage education…  etc… There is nothing bad here…but it simply seems to lack something…perhaps it seems as if we are making excuses for our lapses?  What if it were 20 years of activity…will it get worse?  Maybe it is what I call the “kitchen sink” leadership philosophy…just throw every trait you can in there and see what happens? Thoughts?  Might just be the caffeine has not kicked in, and I don’t have the entire interview.  

View Original / Albany Tribune / November 19, 2013

20130429-061000.jpgStrengthening the standards of the military profession is a critical mission for the armed services, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said at The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council last night.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey told more than 100 U.S. executives that the profession of arms is unique, but that leaders have to keep working on the profession to ensure it maintains its ethos.

John Bussey, a Wall Street Journal assistant managing editor, interviewed Dempsey for the event.

Competence and loyalty are two necessary attributes, but the gold standard, Dempsey said, is trust. “You don’t walk out of a forward operating base in Afghanistan unless you have a level of trust in the man or woman to your right and left, your leadership, your medics,” he said.

But responsibility and accountability are important as well, the general told the executives. “There have been missteps recently that we are trying to overcome — missteps that I attribute to 10 years of frenetic activity — and I think we forgot a little about how we balance character and competence,” he said.

The chairman stressed that it is not a choice between character and competence, but a blend of the two. “You don’t want a leader in a combat zone who is really a man of great character, but can’t fight his way out of a paper bag,” the general said. “Nor do you want the ultimate warrior god who isn’t a man of character.”

The chairman was loath to compare military and civilian leadership, except in one instance.

“I do think there’s something extraordinary about being given the responsibility for people’s lives,” he said. “That should cause us all pause and put it in perspective. I’ll accept that as part of our uniqueness, which gives us some balance of both physical courage and moral courage that may be unique in our profession.”

The profession of arms has a long and honorable history, Dempsey noted. “We commit ourselves to an uncommon life, and we accept, by becoming a member of the profession, to live to a certain ethos,” he said. “In our case, it is serving the people of the United States and ensuring the common defense — or, as I like to put it, keeping the country immune from coercion.”

Part of being a leader in a profession is the need to encourage education throughout a career, the general said.

“Other than the medical profession, our continuing education program for leaders in the military is second to none,” he added. “We try to renew our commitment to being part of a profession at various intervals along the way.”

But you are not a profession just because you say you are, the chairman said.

“You have to earn it and re-earn it,” he explained. “And particularly in our relationship with the American people, we have to continue to earn it.”

Source: American Forces Press Service

2 Replies to “Dempsey Addresses CEOs On Challenges Of Leadership By Jim Garamone”

  1. Hi Bill,

    This is an interesting article. I agree a lot with the author’s premise, especially the part about competence and character. I don’t know that I would really separate leadership into a civilian / military dichotomy as if the two were different beasts all together. Developing a vision; enabling others with guidance, support, and decisions; motivating action that moves toward a goal are common principles that cross all kinds of organizations whether military, athletic teams, corporations, churches, schools etc. Maybe that is an oversimplification, but I think we all see leaders that are good, bad, or indifferent in all aspects of our lives. I readily acknowledge that the penalty for mistakes on the military side is measured in lives of those whom we are entrusted with. That factor alone really ups the ante and separates the warriors into a different class. That said, good leadership is still good leadership all around, no matter where those skills were acquired.

    Happy Holidays,


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