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Leading the Charge: Leadership Lessons from the Battlefield to the Boardroom

Leading the Charge: Leadership Lessons from the Battlefield to the Boardroom

by Tony Zinni, Tony Koltz, George Witte

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"What's happened to our leaders and to our leadership?"
Based on General Zinni's leadership experiences from the battlefield to the boardroom, Leading the Charge shows a new way through the significant leadership challenges of the 21st century.

The times are changing at an ever-increasing velocity. Old systems, organizations, and ways of operating no


"What's happened to our leaders and to our leadership?"
Based on General Zinni's leadership experiences from the battlefield to the boardroom, Leading the Charge shows a new way through the significant leadership challenges of the 21st century.

The times are changing at an ever-increasing velocity. Old systems, organizations, and ways of operating no longer work in our dynamic, complex and increasingly unstable new environment. Out of this chaos and confusion, a new and different leader must emerge. Old systems and methods will no longer work.

Leading the Charge is a visionary leadership book that examines the trends that have reshaped our world and the ways in which visionary leaders and organizations can effectively respond. Tomorrow's successful leaders-in all fields, including the military, academia, politics, and business-must know how to create, operate, and thrive in very fluid, flattened, and integrated structures that are remarkably different from the traditional organizations we are used to seeing. They will have to manage rapidly changing technology and flows of information, and create faster and more far-reaching spans of control.

Leading the Charge shows the way, and is an incisive and compelling guide to the new world of leadership, one that will prove indispensable for years to come.

Organized around "Leading a New World," a revolutionary leadership course General Zinni developed and taught at the Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy at Duke University, Leading the Charge makes a convincing case that leaders must . . .
- change with the times to be relevant.
- be ready for crisis mode at any given time.
- have a moral compass and the ability to steer the company in the right direction.
- be forward thinking, not reactive, to provide innovation and creativity.
- develop great leaders.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Zinni, former special envoy to the Middle East, and Koltz (coauthors of The Battle for Peace) turn their focus to what they regard as a profound leadership crisis in America. Leaders-in politics, the military and business-have failed to evolve with the times, say the authors, who identify 11 core elements of new (and effective) managers, including developing a strong ethical sense and honing listening and decision-making skills. The authors dedicate entire chapters to each of these elements and explore what it takes to shepherd nations, companies and families in times of crisis as well as how to nurture and train future leaders. Zinni's principles of governance-applicable to parents as well as presidents-touches everything from the Spitzer scandal to U.S. policies in the Middle East and dispenses practical guidelines with particular relevance and resonance. (Aug.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From the Publisher
"A thoughtful and evocative lesson plan on leadership which is equally applicable to business leaders as well as military and political leaders.... Inspiring." ---Thomas J. Campbell, president of DC Capital Partners

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St. Martin's Press
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Leading the Charge

Leadership Lessons from the Battlefield to the Boardroom

By Tony Zinni, Tony Koltz

Palgrave Macmillan

Copyright © 2009 Tony Zinni and Tony Koltz
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-230-62379-8



If you woke up today after a twenty-year-long Rip Van Winkle nap, you'd find yourself in a vastly different world from the one you had expected or hoped for—a shockingly changed world full of wild, scarcely believable crises, conflicts, threats, and turmoil. I'm certain that your first reaction would be alarm and horror. "What went wrong?" you'd ask. "Our nation and most of the world seemed to be sailing into calm, peaceful waters, not these storms." Outrage would quickly follow: "Who's been in charge? What happened to the leaders? How could they have led us here? Where have they been? What have they been doing?"

Those of us who have been awake during the last two decades are asking the same questions.

Your government failed you.... We tried, but that doesn't matter, because we failed.

Richard Clarke, the former National Coordinator for Counterterrorism, directed these dramatic and emotion-filled words to the traumatized families of the 9/11 victims during his testimony on March 24, 2004, before the 9/11 Commission. His words shocked a TV audience of millions of Americans.

Our investigation revealed that Katrina was a national failure, an abdication of the most solemn obligation to provide for the common welfare. At every level—individual, corporate, philanthropic, and governmental—we failed to meet the challenge that was Katrina. In this cautionary tale, all the little pigs built houses of straw.

These powerfully critical words came from the 2006 report of the eleven-member Republican House Select Committee investigating the Bush administration's response to Hurricane Katrina.

From the passage of the resolution to overthrow Saddam to the failed attempts at reconstruction of Iraq, there have been so many missteps that the question of how we got into this mess has been obscured by finger pointing and blame shifting. The administration adopted a unilateralist policy, pushed it through a politically cautious Congress, and sold it through the lens of fear to the American people, who were inclined to trust their elected leaders in the aftermath of 9/11.

These are the words of respected Republican senator Chuck Hagel in his superb 2008 book, America: Our Next Chapter.

America's generals have repeated the mistakes of Vietnam in Iraq. First, throughout the 1990s our generals failed to envision the conditions of future combat and prepare their forces accordingly. Second, America's generals failed to estimate correctly both the means and the ways necessary to achieve the aims of policy prior to beginning the war in Iraq. Finally, America's generals did not provide Congress and the public with an accurate assessment of the conflict in Iraq.

These damning words did not come from the media or an investigating commission but from a bright young Army officer, Lieutenant Colonel Paul Yingling, in an open letter in the Armed Forces Journal on April 28, 2007. Yingling's letter has subsequently resounded throughout the halls of the service academies and war colleges.

When you see a corporation losing 40, 50% of its value ... and then they fire their employees and sometimes even close their doors, and then the executives walk off with millions of dollars, how can you justify that?

These are the June 23, 2008, words of Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, who has been examining CEO compensation and performance during the business and financial crises plaguing our economy.

Obviously, the players who used performance enhancing substances are responsible for their actions. But they did not act in a vacuum. Everyone involved in baseball over the past two decades—commissioners, club officials, the Players Association, and players—shares to some extent in the responsibility for the steroids era. There was a collective failure to recognize the problem as it emerged and to deal with it early on. As a result, an environment developed in which illegal use became widespread.

This is one of the many criticisms of league leadership, from the Mitchell Commission's 2007 investigation into substance abuse in Major League Baseball.

* * *

What's happening here? You can't pick up a newspaper today without reading about some failure of leadership in virtually every segment of our society. Polls show that more than half of the American people are not proud of their nation's leaders, and three quarters say that without better leadership we are headed for decline. In its 2008 National Leadership Index, the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School and the Merriman River Group released poll results showing that 80 percent of Americans believe that the United States faces a leadership crisis today—up from 77 percent in 2007 and 65 percent in 2006.

Lee Iacocca's passionate burn (in his 2007 book Where Have All the Leaders Gone?) powerfully articulates what most other Americans have come to feel: "Am I the only guy in this country who's fed up with what's happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We've got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we've got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can't even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car." Strong, blunt words that increasingly ring true with the American people. We expect far more from our leaders than we've been getting.

But it's not just Americans who worry about our leadership.

On a business trip to the Persian Gulf not long ago, I ran into an old friend, Pat Theros, who now runs an organization that promotes cooperative business relationships between the United States and Qatar. Back in the late 1990s when I commanded U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), he'd been an exceptional ambassador to Qatar and a truly savvy Foreign Service officer whose political and regional insights I valued greatly. Since we both travel in the same circles—regional business, political, and military leadership—we compared notes. "Are you hearing the same thing I'm hearing?" he asked me. "I'm getting something from leaders out here that I've never heard before: 'We used to think you Americans were the best people in the world at getting things done,' they're telling me. 'Now we have doubts. You don't seem to be able to manage things well anymore.' I've never run into that attitude before."

"I've been hearing exactly the same thing," I told him. "A first for me, too."

These comments we were hearing were not gloating, sarcastic, or anti-American. They were expressions of genuine concern by prominent regional leaders who worried about the loss of respect for American leadership, action, and effectiveness. These Arab friends were not questioning American power but how our leaders were wielding it. And it wasn't just in the Middle East where I heard these kinds of comments.

Pat and I both had the opposite problem back in our earlier incarnations as Ambassador to Qatar and CENTCOM commander. In those days, our friends in the region used to think America was omnipotent: "If you Americans wanted to bring a successful outcome to the Middle East Peace process," they'd tell us, "you could broker and pressure a deal between the Israelis and Palestinians tomorrow." Or: "If you Americans wanted to straighten out the Iranians and tame their appetite for nuclear weapons, you could do it tomorrow." Or: "If you Americans wanted to take the sting out of Saddam Hussein and his thuggish regime and repair Iraq, you could do it tomorrow."

They had always looked up to us as the world champs at understanding problems and then directly and effectively handling them. If anything, they worried that we were sometimes too quick, powerful, and effective in our eagerness to resolve issues. For decades they'd seen us as the one nation in the world with the right stuff to manage any problem we faced. We were their wisest friend and partner ... their beacon of freedom and understanding ... the big brother—the benevolent global leader—they could put their trust in. Leaders out there often lamented to me that after World War II, we didn't extend to the Middle East the kind of enlightened reconstruction we had accomplished in Europe and the Far East.

Whenever we had these conversations with our political and military counterparts, we tried to inject a dose of realism: "Now wait a minute. Sometimes we've been smart, and we may be powerful in many respects, but we also have limitations. It's great that you have so much confidence in us. But we cannot resolve all issues as quickly and completely as you think or would like."

"No, no, no! You can do anything you want. America has all the necessary power, skill, and the influence."

Arabs are a proud people, with a rich culture, deep traditions, and their own ways of handling problems. Most Arabs accepted us as influential partners in the decades after World War II, replacing colonial or imperial masters. Most were very happy to have us standing with them, backing them up as a force of stability in the region. And most were confident that when we set out to get something done, it would get done. They, and the world, had witnessessed our half century of positive handling of a world war, a Cold War, and an economic boom.

Now all that had changed and for the first time they were openly questioning our motivation and competence: "Can you guys get it done anymore?"

They had seen us evolving into a blundering force of instability—an image many of our enemies love to reinforce and promote in the region and around the globe.

Middle Eastern leaders watching how we managed the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq may have had doubts about whether we should have gone in or not, but once we'd made the decision, they'd thought, "Well, in the end, the Americans will clean that up in short order." Instead, they saw us botch the occupation and get bogged down in a seemingly endless insurrection and civil war in which many thousands of civilians were maimed or killed and which threatened to destabilize their neighborhood. To Middle Eastern leaders, it was inconceivable that we didn't understand the forces we were unleashing through our careless intervention into the complex dynamics at play in Iraq, in Iran, and in the region.

Earlier they'd watched us kick the Taliban and Al Qaeda out of Afghanistan in a swiftly executed military operation. Then they watched us get distracted by Iraq. And then they watched Afghanistan stall and turn into a growing disaster. We're still chasing Osama Bin Laden and Mullah Omar after seven years of conflict. Instead of a quick resolution, we now have a dangerously growing cancer metastasizing into Pakistan and Central and Southeast Asia. Events like the recent Islamabad Marriott hotel bombing and the Mumbai terrorist attack threaten to ignite the entire region.

With increasing shock and anger, they have watched the humiliations and the torture under interrogation at Abu Ghraib and the controversial detainments at Guantanamo; and they were horrified to learn that Americans had stooped to "extraordinary renditions" to spirit away suspects to secret prisons in nameless countries without due process. This was not the principled and moral America they respected and thought they knew. For reformers and activists in the region, this fact was particularly troubling, since they held the United States up as the model for humane and responsible governance.

They'd watched the tragic unfolding of Hurricane Katrina and its messy aftermath—the rescue and cleanup from hell. Most Americans—but not our Arab friends—are unaware that the Emir of Qatar was the number-one contributor of aid for Katrina relief; other regional donors also assisted. Here was the United States of America, the richest and most powerful nation in history, and our own government's response to the disaster was so incompetent, inept, and foolish that we found ourselves welcoming aid from outside!

They'd watched our economy tank after the subprime mortgage crisis. According to our reputation, we had the best and most efficient financial system in the world, and yet it's hard to find a financial or political leader here who knew—or cared—that mortgage and other lending had gotten out of control. Loans that never should have been granted were bundled into financial instruments that were sold down some complicated chain of murky financial entities ... and then bundled and sold again. A giant pyramid scheme: I don't know what else to call it. Worse yet, government agencies structured to monitor and regulate these actions seemed befuddled by the crisis and its depth.

"Where's the risk?" ... "Who cares? Property values will never stop growing. Everybody makes money. Everybody's happy."

The hat-in-hand parade of American financial and industrial corporate executives going to Washington looking for taxpayer bailouts has been a public embarrassment for our nation and a cause of visceral anger for its citizens.

What do these stratospherically paid "leaders" have to say in their own defense? We expect them to explain clearly and reasonably how and why they led their firms, the nation, and the entire world into an economic catastrophe. They owe us a clear explanation of what went wrong. Instead they're offering up dodgy excuses. In an op-ed in the March 12, 2009, New York Times, financial author William D. Cohan provided a sample of statements from investment bankers whose organizations are now either dead or absorbed by more solvent ones:

If I'd have known exactly the forces that were coming, [I'd have known] what actions ... we [could] have taken beforehand to have avoided this situation. [But] I just simply have not been able to come up with anything ... that would have made a difference to the situation that we faced.

These words were spoken by Alan Schwartz, the former chief executive officer of Bear Stearns, to the Senate Banking Committee in April, 2008.

I wake up every single night thinking, "What could I have done differently? What could I have said? What should I have done?" And I have searched myself every single night. And I come back to this: at the time I made those decisions, I made those decisions with the information I had.

Dick Fuld, the former chief executive of Lehman Brothers, spoke these words to Congress in October, 2008.

Before their firms crashed and burned in 2008, Schwartz and Fuld were at the top of the investment banking food chain, with combined yearly incomes of only slightly less than $500 million. Were they blind, deaf, dumb? They had bet the futures of their firms on mortgagebacked securities and trades with hedge funds. At one time these relatively new tools in the banking toolkit had been enormously profitable—so profitable that these (well informed?) "leaders" had decided to largely ignore the less profitable but safer areas that had in the past sustained the banking business. Did it never occur to them that these newer tools carried titanic risks? How could they have failed to understand that if these investments tanked, their firms might not survive?

As our dismayed global friends watched America fumble, they wondered, "What happened to our wise big brother? What happened to the free world's great beacon of understanding, power, and freedom?" Thank God, their dismay hasn't turned them totally against us. Instead, they're truly hoping for an American renaissance, a return of the respected moral and competent leadership they admired. Like American citizens, they have a tremendous amount of hope that the Obama administration will turn the leadership crisis around.

Our enemies obviously enjoy watching and encouraging our missteps. They see opportunity in replacing the United States as the hyperpower, either globally (e.g., China) or regionally (e.g., Iran). In their view, their own flaws can be covered up by the attention and concern drawn to our failures. As one leader in the Gulf region recently told me, "The Iranians are running around here gleefully announcing the demise of America and capitalism. They tell us, 'I told you so. '"

* * *

Not long ago we were seen all over the world as "the indispensable nation," the sole superpower, an empire ... but a benevolent empire of influence, without the negative legacy and history of empires of conquest and exploitation. Have our recent stumbles and falls made us a helpless, flailing giant? When we try to assert our leadership in the world, whom can we count on to follow us in future "coalitions of the willing"? Are we now a fading empire in terminal decline? Is it the end of the American century, as some have pronounced?

Make no mistake: we are not alone in this leadership crisis. Far from it. A June, 2008 WorldPublicOpinion.org poll of citizens from twenty nations found that none of the world's national leaders inspire confidence. It's almost as though an epidemic of diseased leadership has spread around the world and into every facet of global society.

What do perceptions like these mean for us now? Where must we go? What must we do? What is our place in these countries that once looked up to us? What is our place in the world? How did we let our place in the world plunge so precipitously? Where was the responsible leadership we count on to protect our citizens and to guide the nation into the future—an always risky and often dangerous process? ... Where were our leaders?


Excerpted from Leading the Charge by Tony Zinni, Tony Koltz. Copyright © 2009 Tony Zinni and Tony Koltz. Excerpted by permission of Palgrave Macmillan.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

General Tony Zinni (Ret.) was commander in chief of CENTCOM and special envoy to the Middle East. He has appeared on The Daily Show and Meet the Press among others. Tony Koltz co-authored Tom Clancy's Into the Storm and Battle Ready as well as The Battle for Peace, a New York Times bestseller.

General Tony Zinni (Ret.) was Commander in Chief of CENTCOM and special envoy to the Middle East. He has appeared on 60 Minutes, Nightline and Charlie Rose, among others.
Tony Koltz co-authored Tom Clancy’s Into the Storm and Battle Ready, with General Zinni.

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