I really enjoyed this article on leadership. If you are an emerging leader, I think you can gain a lot in reading it. Many of the lessons seem counter-intuitive considering they come from a military source. And not just a military source! but a Marine general, one who has a reputation as a real fighter.

I thoroughly enjoyed the read for several reasons. For one, I have tremendous respect for Secretary Mattis. This “warrior-monk” exemplifies personal and professional success considering he’s successfully integrated both dimesions fo life.

Secondly, I thoroughly enjoyed the line that Mattis is “first and foremost” a thinker. As you know, I’m writing my first book about the emergent leader. My thesis rides on the premise of “the primacy of thought” in leadership. In other words, it’s not charisma or appearances or emotional appeals that make leaders successful, rather is substance – the content of their mind. Successful leaders are truly first and foremost thinkers as it shapes all other elements required to effectively lead.

  • It’s how they identify what really matters given the myriad of options available.
  • It shapes how they communicate, in being able to say the right things to appeal to different people and personalities.
  • The thread of thinking flows from communication into planning, which is in essence the organization of your words and ideas into a coherent roadmap for success.
  • And of course there is execution. As I’ve said before, the ROI for leaders during execution is the ability to improvise. Something always goes wrong and how the leader reacts can dictate success or failure. This is the message echoed throughout EDGE Challenges! The value of thinking applied to execution is selecting the general contingencies that were considered during planning. This requires forethought. Circling back to the beginning of the paragraph, I considered the line a confirmation of my thesis (I’m confident it is not confirmation-bias).

Although there are many other elements I enjoyed, the final one I want to share is lesson #6.

He encouraged simplicity in planning, and speed, surprise, and security in execution. Mattis knew control in combat is an illusion — a ghost fools often chased. He preferred “command and feedback,” not command and control.

The point stressing simplicity reinforces my thesis on the primacy of thinking. The emergent leader will always face friction, an element of Chaos. It’s inevitable. How do we manage it? By reducing things to there most simple form. I refer to it as thinking in essentials. This is not a small matter; indeed, it is the opposite. It is absolutely critical and necessary. Why? That’s another blogpost.

Anyways, here is the link to the read. Enjoy!