I was very fortunate in my military career to serve with lots of great officers. Many of these officers went on to become General Officers. I learned lots of valuable lessons from the officers I served with. What I want to do on this page is just share a few of those lessons with you. The lessons (and people) are listed in no particular order.
# 1 COL Singh – I worked with her several times during my career. The one thing I really learned from her was the importance of managing your own career. I cannot think of anyone else I ever served with that did a better job at this than she did. She was strategic about what jobs she took, when she took promotions, etc. She knew her “final goal” and had a clear action plan to get there.
# 2 CPT Goins – He was my Company Commander while I was a young Soldier. The guy did three Company Command positions. He was a stud. The one lesson I learned from him more than anything was to “stay at the bottom as long as you can and then go straight to the top.” He taught me to stay at the Battalion Level or below most of your career, until you are a mid to senior level Major and then move up. He taught me that real leadership is developed at the “troop level.” This advice proved to be very valuable to me throughout my career.
# 3 CPT Wallace – I served with him while I was in the Old Guard. He was a Staff Officer in the same section that I worked in. This guy was very competent and very professional. One lesson I really learned from him was to “be quiet and secretive about your career.” Don’t let anyone know your intentions to stay in or get out. He never shared his intentions with anyone. One day out of the blue, he had resigned and was gone on terminal leave. No one saw it coming. It was a shock to everyone in the office, probably because he would have gone VERY FAR in the military.
# 4 LTC Blair – I got to serve with LTC Blair while I was a Company Commander. He was my Battalion Commander. He was a tremendous leader. The one key thing I learned from him was to “trust your people.” He placed great faith in his Staff and Company Commanders. He didn’t micro-manage anyone. He empowered others, trusted their judgement and supported their decisions.
# 5 LTC Perna – He was my Battalion Commander while I was a young Lieutenant. He was the best officer I ever served with. What he taught me the most was to be a doer and to take responsibility for my own actions. He instilled the warrior spirit and Army ethos within me and made me WANT to be a better leader. He taught me to “just get it done” and “dare to be great!” I still live by those phrases, some 13 years later!
# 6 LTC Yaukey – He was my first Battalion Commander when I joined the Army National Guard. He was a great guy. One thing he really taught me, by his example, was to be poised and calm. He seldom got upset or blew a gasket, even in tough situations. He had a poker face. This kept everyone else calm. I’m naturally an emotional guy, so learning from him helped me a lot.
# 7 CPT Dickey – He was my second Company Commander while I served in the Old Guard. I messed up one day and did something dumb. He could have burned me and given me an Article 15. He said I was a good Soldier and made a stupid mistake. I learned from the experience and went on to get his recommendation for the Green to Gold Program. What I learned from him more than anything is to see the potential in people. Don’t judge everyone where they are. Instead, look at where they can be!
# 8 LTC Gregory – He was my Professor of Military Science while I was in ROTC. LTC Gregory was very professional. I learned many lessons from him, but two really stand out. The first one is to set a good example. He always led by example for his Cadets. Another lesson I learned from him was dealing with issues. Whenever there was an issue, he dealt with it immediately, but in a professional manner.
# 9 LTC Knepshield – This guy was another tremendous leader, a mover and shaker. I learned a lot from him, but one thing that stands out was to “just be damn good at what you do.” I consider him the jack of all trades. He took pride in his work and you could give him any task and he would excel at it.
# 10 LTC Austin – He is my good friend. I worked with him for about a year on ADOS (temporary Active Duty). He is a Maverick and does things his own way. The one thing I learned most from him was to be yourself. Don’t try to act like someone else. Let your own personality and style shine through and don’t worry about what others think of you.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of ALL of the good officers I worked with. Instead, these are just a few of the key lessons I learned from SOME of the Army Officers I served with.
What are your thoughts? What is the most valuable lesson on this page as you see it? Leave a comment below to let me know what you think. I look forward to hearing from you.