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To lead you must communicate.

It's not enough to have a vision. It must be clear, and effectively communicated.

Short, memorable bits of wisdom and guidance can convey your vision quickly and clearly, building the muscle memory of ethical decision-making to help avoid the blunder of the strategic corporal.

When you must lead from the front, ensure those following don't lose their way.

"Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand." ~ Gen. Colin Powell, U.S. Army


1. Know yourself.

Understand your strengths and weaknesses.

Find people or mechanisms to cover your blind spots.

Accept wise counsel . . . you are NOT infallible.

A mirror is an important piece of equipment.

2. Only the lead dog gets a change of scenery.

Leaders live in glass houses.

Everyone watches you and follows your lead.

Be the ethical path finder.

If you move out, and people don't follow, you are walking alone in the wilderness.

3. Do the right thing, and do things right.

Seek an end that is ethical, moral and legal.

Utilize ways and means that are appropriate.

"The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office." ~ Dwight Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States, and former General of the Army

4. Winning is a state of mind.

Working and planning to win creates a different mindset than working and planning to not lose.

The former produces a positive, aggressive, empowered state of mind.

The latter produces a risk-averseness in all Soldiers.

"The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it." ~ Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, U.S. Army

5. Spend it like it's yours.

Do we need it?

Is it worth the cost?

What are you willing to do without?

What future opportunity will you be unable to take advantage of if you do this now?

6. Be comfortable with ambiguity.

You NEVER have 100 percent fidelity of the situation.

The enemy gets a vote.

Plans must have branches and sequels to facilitate adjustment during execution.

"Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future." ~ John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States

7. Go outside your comfort zone.

Expand your experience set.

Build flexibility and resilience.

Seek a wide range of experiences to understand your service and the strategic environment better.

8. Listen more than you speak.

Knowledge is power, when you listen you learn.

Being heard empowers, empower your people.

You have two ears and only one mouth. Use them in that proportion.

9. As you move up in rank or authority, you repeat your rookie year.

Rethink your goals.

Resist the temptation to immediately change the playbook.

The game's not over, enjoy your achievement, but don't stop playing.

Promotions grant you added responsibility, not added respect -- you have to earn that.

10. Decide when to decide.

Not making a decision allows events to develop.

A decision may be an inflection point.

People are looking to you to lead them, leadership is deciding to decide, communicating with your team and getting them on board.

"It no longer enough to lead, you must be able to build a team of leaders. So as your vision is communicated, those who have the authority of action also have a clear knowledge of what action to take and the confidence to take it." ~Maj. Gen. Patrick J. Reinert, U.S. Army


Maj. Gen. Patrick J. Reinert began his military career as an Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps cadet at Iowa State University in 1979 and commissioned as a U.S. Army military intelligence officer in 1983. He also holds a law degree from the University of Iowa. While in law school, he served with the Iowa National Guard before transferring to the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps. In his civilian capacity, Reinert serves as an Assistant United States Attorney in Iowa. In his military capacity, he is currently serving as the commanding general of the U.S. Army Reserve's 88th Readiness Division headquartered at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, and is preparing for retirement from the Army in December 2018 after 35 years of service.

Related Links:

Charting the courses: 35 years of Army life and leadership