A statue of the inspirational Medal of Honor recipient Vice Admiral James Stockdale (1923-2005) belongs in “The Garden of American Heroes,” a new national monument to be built per Executive Order.  Admiral Stockdale’s motivational example of indomitable patriotism and intrepid leadership occurred when he was America’s senior Prisoner of War (POW) in North Vietnam from 1965-73, all the while braving life-threatening hardships.  The Admiral’s refusal to cooperate with his captors under conditions of torture and solitary confinement was the impetus for a culture of POW resistance that included ways to communicate and govern behavior which strengthened morale, bolstered faith in each other and ultimately improved the chances for survival of hundreds of Americans. I had the honor to meet Admiral Stockdale in September 1979 at a football game in Annapolis.  I was a Plebe (freshman) at the US Naval Academy. The Admiral, a 1947 Academy graduate, recently retired from the Navy and was then President of the Citadel. That he graciously shared a few moments to speak with me on a busy afternoon at a major sports event left me with an enduring impression of his friendly, incisive leadership style which emphasized traits I would later describe as “T3.”  Specifically, TEAMWORK: Admiral Stockdale emphasized - whether in peace, crisis, combat or captivity - individuals must prioritize what’s best for the TEAM ahead of...

June 11th is Jacques Cousteau’s birthday (1910). The Frenchman inspired generations as a world-famous maritime explorer, conservationist and  filmmaker.  His aquatic accomplishments are legendary, but so are his leadership skills which internationally influenced others to become involved with maritime ecology.  What made Cousteau’s style so special? It was his impassioned application of “T3.” TEAMWORK:  A Naval Officer and Frogman who first came to international prominence by revolutionizing underwater diving, Cousteau co-developed the Aqua-Lung (forerunner of today’s SCUBA).  He used his  military team-building skills to inclusively partner with scientists adventurers, ecologists, authors and even musicians (“Calypso” - named for Cousteau’s Research Vessel -  was a 1975 John Denver hit song) to help achieve his goals of understanding and protecting the seas and its inhabitants.  TONE:  Cousteau was upbeat and inquisitive. His TV show, “The Undersea World” from 1966-1976 energized a generation to support his his valuable work.  Great leaders demonstrate great passions.  Cousteau demonstrated his through the fervent pursuit of goals, which included being brutally blunt when necessary, “Water and air, the two essential fluids on which all life depends, have become global garbage cans.”  Effective leaders also demonstrate great empathy and genuineness.  Revealing a softer (perhaps stereotypical French) side, he also aroused passions by stating, “A lot of people attack the sea, I make love to it.” TENACITY: Achieving goals requires commitment. ...

June 4th marks the beginning of the 78th anniversary of the Battle of Midway, the greatest naval battle in American history and the turning point of World War II in the Pacific. At Midway, a larger Japanese fleet was surprised and defeated by smaller, less combat-experienced U.S. naval forces. Victory was enabled by:  Intelligence TEAMWORK,  Admiral Nimitz’s motivational TONE which empowered subordinates’ bold decision-making, and  The TENACITY, courage, and inspirational sacrifice of our Sailors and Marines and Army Airmen  The application of “Teamwork, Tone, Tenacity™” (T3) enabled the success of American war planning, fighting and winning at Midway and they are just as applicable today as they were in 1942.  At the outbreak of World War II, the Japanese Navy seemed unstoppable. U.S. military forces were down following Pearl Harbor and a Philippines surrender, but proved they were not out when Lt Col Doolittle’s B-25 bombers conducted a raid on Tokyo and the Navy fought the Japanese to a tactical standoff at Coral Sea in April 1942. Japan’s Fleet Commander, ADM Yamamoto, sought revenge with an attack against Midway by his four carrier task force, believing he could lure and defeat the U.S. Navy’s three central Pacific carriers in a decisive engagement.  While Yamamoto factored tangible numeric advantages into his plans, he did not factor in the U.S. Pacific Fleet’s ability to harness three intangible...

May is National Nurse’s Month, largely because May 12th is the birthday (1820) of the inspirational founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightengale. It’s an apt time to reflect on her compassion, innovation and determination during our national Covid19 crisis when nurses are demonstrating lifesaving heroism and resolve.  Her name was an aptronym, suited to its owner who’s powerful song for improved patient care came to prominence while serving as a leader and trainer of battlefield British nurses during the Crimean War 1854-1856.  Following her motivational, selfless service in Turkey where she earned iconic status becoming known as "The Lady with the Lamp,” making rounds of field hospitals with wounded soldiers at night, she returned to Victorian London.  There she became a became an outspoken proponent for modern sanitary, medical practices, delivering keynote addresses to influential audiences while boosting the reputation oft overlooked nurses.   Three of her leadership attributes that inspire today:  TEAMWORK: Broke barriers by communicating, coordinating and collaborating with others to improve patient care TONE: Her words and deeds were courageous.  ”How little can be done under the spirit of fear.”  TENACITY: Resilient on the battlefield and in the offices of British power brokers from who she sought endorsement of bold new ideas and practices.  “I attribute my success to this - I never gave or took an excuse.” In 1860, Nightingale established...

In times of crisis, especially during multiple simultaneous crises, organizations thrive with leaders who:  Reassure by reinforcing trust  Show empathy  Demonstrate stability through competence and character Exude hope. The scope and scale of the Covid-19 pandemic presents an extraordinary leadership challenge.  It’s created multiple, simultaneous crises for healthcare, the economy, social stability, education and international relations with no clear end in sight.  In addressing this challenge, social media and professional journals have been flooded by lengthy, exquisite leadership recommendations to help navigate the complexity of leading under such difficult circumstances.  I won’t join others by piling on with long, elaborate formulae.  Instead, my observations during multiple simultaneous crises in battle spaces of southwest Asia and business spaces of our cities point me in another direction.  First-hand experience reinforces my conviction that in crisis, a few crisp, clear, well-communicated concepts and actions provide leaders the framework needed to achieve positive outcomes.  The three most effective are: “Teamwork, Tone, Tenacity (T3).” During my military service I always admired how leaders expressed their “Commander’s Intent” in a short, memorable, actionable statement emphasizing what their unit must do to achieve its goal.  After several years in the private sector I’ve developed a similar admiration for its equivalent; the business “Mission Statement.”  To be compelling, both depend on a leader clearly communicating the raison d’être for the organization, its...

Our beloved 15-year old dog Hula passed this weekend. Naming this Hawaiian-born puppy came naturally. She not only gave as much love and comfort as she received, but her examples of fidelity, selflessness and enthusiasm inspired everyone and epitomized the leadership traits of “Teamwork, Tone, Tenacity” (T3).    TEAMWORK: One of the greatest attributes of a leader is understanding how to first be a good follower and part of a team. Coming from a litter of eight, Hula knew this from the start. She also demonstrated exceptional team leadership qualities such as: LISTENING:  She made us feel heard by an intense stare or head twist even though she couldn’t verbally communicate. Her rule of paw was to listen more than she barked. After listening for a long time, Hula’s recommendation to relieve stress was a long walk or a good nap. Both worked wonders. LOYALTY:  The essence of teamwork is trust … the byproduct of trust of loyalty … with shared loyalty teammates are willing to sacrifice for others to achieve a common goal. Whether rich or poor, healthy or ill, successful or not, the one constant we could count on since 2014 was having Hula exuberantly welcome us home everyday. When it came to the goal of safety: Hula was willing to do whatever it took to guard us from skateboarders, firetrucks or a the brushes in our local drive-through car wash....

In December 1903 aviation pioneers Orville and Wilbur Wright invented, built and flew the first successful powered airplane in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.  In doing so these leaders inspired the world and set the stage for modern developments in aerospace. The achievement was no fluke. It was years in the making for these self-taught engineers (neither had a high school diploma) and came while numerous competitors were racing to be the first. What set the Wright Brothers apart?  Three characteristics: “Teamwork, Tone, Tenacity®.”   TEAMWORK: These two brothers (each flew their airplane twice on their historic day of accomplishment) blended their complementary academic, inventive and business strengths. We never hear of one overshadowing the other … they shared credit completely. The brothers were also quick to share credit and profits with their own shop employee, Charlie Taylor, who help them build their firs airplane engine, and their sister Katherine who devoted much of her life to assisting the lifelong bachelors. TONE:  Orville and Wilbur were extraordinarily humble, perhaps owing to their upbringing as the sons of a Bishop. They never criticized their competitors, even when they were out-funded or when their rivals suffered significant failures. Their focus was not glory and fame.  They simply wanted to be the first to solve the problem of powered flight.  Upon receiving an award in France, Wilbur...

October 21st marked the anniversary of one of the greatest - if not the greatest - naval victories in history: The Battle of Trafalgar.  Off Spain’s Atlantic Coast in 1805, British Admiral Lord Nelson and his 27 ships decisively defeated a combined French-Spanish fleet of 33 ships.  The amazing victory ensured Napoleon would remain ashore in Continental Europe and give up on any plans to invade England.  Nelson’s brilliance as a maritime warfighter and leader were second to none.  The factors that led to this historic victory are still taught at military war colleges today.  The three most significant:  TEAMWORK: Nelson trusted his subordinate and knew how to delegate authority.  He called his ship Captains “Entrepreneurs of Battle.”  Each was encouraged to take initiative, think on their own in the absence of specific orders and were rewarded for doing so.  This decentralized style of teamwork resulted in initiative, innovation and speed of action in combat.  The French and Spanish Fleet, by comparison, operated with a top-down, controlled, management model.  When the “poo hit the fan” and chaos ensued once the fight began, opposing French Admiral Villeneuve admittedly lost control of the battle around him and his subordinates were indecisive awaiting for direction from above.   The TEAMWORK lesson here:  Once subordinates have proven their trustworthiness and reliability, relinquishing direct control over them can...

I was honored to deliver the Keynote Address last week at the Deer Park (Long Island) Class of 2019’s High School Commencement Ceremony, my alma mater.  It was great to be home and offer advice to this generation 40 years after my Class of 1979 received our diplomas.       To put ’79's High School years in perspective, I informed the soon-to-be graduates that during our time in school:   “The Yankees were 2x reigning World Series Champs,  There was only one “Star Wars” film,  There were no “Avengers” movies  (their comics sold for 25 cents), We saw “Queen” perform “Bohemian Rhapsody” live! I was delighted to have those memories and so many others wash over me back in this town and school where I learned so much in class on the athletic fields.  While there might be 40 years between our classes, I emphasized that when I wore the cloth of our country either afloat in the Pacific or in the deserts of the Middle East, it was alongside teenagers right out of High Schools like Deer Park, and that’s why I had relevant lessons to share as they began their young adult journey.   The following are speech excerpts:  “Up to this point of your lives as High Schoolers most of you measured success by being able to “Fit In.”  That’s important...

On Memorial Day Monday we remember and honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice serving our country. Here's three important things worth remembering about this solemn holiday: 1) Every country has their version of Veterans Day, only the USA has a Memorial Day dedicated to those who lost their lives while on active duty. Local celebrations started popping up in several eastern states between 1865-1867 to remember the fallen from the Civil War. In 1868 it became a national event. 2) Originally named ‘Decoration Day,’ it was established on May 30. Why then? Two reasons: First, that date didn’t coincide with any one particular Civil War Battle so it represented them all. Second, it takes that long into the spring for northern states to get some of their best flowers in bloom ...