17 Indispensable Leadership Quotes From Post-9/11 Generals

Leadership
Composite by Matt Battaglia

When it comes to building a successful life in the United States of America, there is no shortage of advice for aspiring leaders. Those that hope to one day command a team, launch a business, or run for political office can turn to the internet, books, or classes to learn tools of management, or they can look to military leaders.


Generals and admirals bring a unique perspective to the dialogue about how to galvanize the people around you to action. Those who served after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks have seen more than a decade of combat against a threat unlike any in American history, and it has given them deeper insight into the complex nature of how to serve as a leader.

Here are 17 quotes from post-9/11 generals that all good leaders should know by heart.

“Great powers don't get angry, great powers don't make decisions hastily in a crisis.”

— Gen. John Allen, to ABC News’s Martha Raddatz in an interview from Afghanistan in March 2012.

If you’re not ready the moment things happen, then you’re irrelevant.”

— Gen. James Amos, discussing his vision for the U.S. Marine Corps with Men’s Health in June 2011.

"Clarity and simplicity are the antidotes to complexity and uncertainty."

— Gen. George Casey, in a commencement speech to an an MBA class at Cornell University in 2014.

“You are not a profession just because you say you are. You have to earn it and re-earn it and re-evaluate it from time to time.”

— Gen. Martin Dempsey, addressing leadership scandal, on training future generals and admirals on April 13, 2013.

No plan ever survived the first contact with the enemy."

— Gen. Tom Franks, on his credo, stated multiple times throughout his career.

“Whatever goals we set for ourselves, we know we can go higher.”

— Adm. Michelle Howard discussing leadership in the Navy with Forbes in 2014.

“Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”

— Gen. James Mattis in a speech to Marines when they arrived in Iraq in 2003.

Leaders can let you fail and yet not let you be a failure.”

— Gen. Stanley McChrystal in a 2014 TED Talk on disruptive leadership.

"Our leaders can't feel compelled to tell their bosses what they want to hear."

— Gen. H.R. McMaster discussing how militaries learn to adapt with consulting company McKinsey in 2013.

“You can't change the world alone - you will need some help - and to truly get from your starting point to your destination takes friends, colleagues, the goodwill of strangers and a strong coxswain to guide them.”

— Adm. William McRaven to the graduates of the University of Texas at Austin in 2014.

“Too often we just look at these glistening successes. Behind them in many, many cases is failure along the way, and that doesn't get put into the Wikipedia story or the bio. Yet those failures teach you every bit as much as the successes.”

— Adm. Mike Mullen on success in a 2012 interview with the Harvard Business Review.

“All leaders will provide those in their charge sincere and concerned assistance with problems.”

Gen. Robert Neller on compassion in his message to Marines in 2015.

“We must be expert, and what I mean by that is leaders of great character, confidence, and commitment. We must be innovative.”

— Gen. Ray Odierno in a press statement about strategic leadership in the Army in 2015.

“Live the life of a leader — Leaders are never off duty.”

— Adm. Eric Olson in his list of 10 Commandments for a highly effective team.

“Committing to a particular goal publicly puts pressure on oneself. It becomes an enormous action-forcing mechanism and often helps you achieve more than you might have had you kept your goals to yourself.”

— Gen. David Petraeus on motivation in a conversation with Vanity Fair in May 2010.

“There is a tremendous role for creativity in competition. Everyone has their own set of heroes, leaders they would say epitomize leadership. … My experience with those leaders is they are constantly looking for ways to outfox their competition, they are studying hard, they are experimenting, they are going everywhere it takes to find some way to win.”

— Adm. John Richardson discussing developing leaders with Federal News Radio in 2017.

“Leadership is a gift. It’s given by those who follow. You have to be worthy of it.”

— Gen. Mark Welsh speaking at the Air Force Academy in November 2011.

The FBI is treating the recent shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, as a terrorist attack, several media outlets reported on Sunday.

"We work with the presumption that this was an act of terrorism," USA Today quoted FBI Agent Rachel Rojas as saying at a news conference.

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WASHINGTON/SEOUL (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un risks losing "everything" if he resumes hostility and his country must denuclearize, after the North said it had carried out a "successful test of great significance."

"Kim Jong Un is too smart and has far too much to lose, everything actually, if he acts in a hostile way. He signed a strong Denuclearization Agreement with me in Singapore," Trump said on Twitter, referring to his first summit with Kim in Singapore in 2018.

"He does not want to void his special relationship with the President of the United States or interfere with the U.S. Presidential Election in November," he said.

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(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Vaughan Dill/Released)

The three sailors whose lives were cut short by a gunman at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, on Friday "showed exceptional heroism and bravery in the face of evil," said base commander Navy Capt. Tim Kinsella.

Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson, Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham, and Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters were killed in the shooting, the Navy has announced.

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The Pentagon has a credibility problem that is the result of the White House's scorched earth policy against any criticism. As a result, all statements from senior leaders are suspect.

We're beyond the point of defense officials being unable to say for certain whether a dog is a good boy or girl. Now we're at the point where the Pentagon has spent three days trying to knock down a Wall Street Journal story about possible deployments to the Middle East, and they've failed to persuade either the press or Congress.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that the United States was considering deploying up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East to thwart any potential Iranian attacks. The story made clear that President Trump could ultimately decide to send a smaller number of service members, but defense officials have become fixated on the number 14,000 as if it were the only option on the table.

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This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. – Gen. David Berger, the US Marine Corps commandant, suggested the concerns surrounding a service members' use of questionable Chinese-owned apps like TikTok should be directed against the military's leadership, rather than the individual troops.

Speaking at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California, on Saturday morning, Berger said the younger generation of troops had a "clearer view" of the technology "than most people give them credit for."

"That said, I'd give us a 'C-minus' or a 'D' in educating the force on the threat of even technology," Berger said. "Because they view it as two pieces of gear, 'I don't see what the big deal is.'"

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