American icon Annie Oakley was born this week in 1860.  One of the most famous Americans of her time, she proved women as capable as men when given a chance.    A Sharpshooter, Performer and International Superstar from “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show” in the late 1800’s, Annie learned to shoot out of necessity hunting game for her family in rural Ohio. During her career she strongly advocated for female service in the military and was a generous Philanthropist for women’s causes. A Member of the National Women’s Hall of Fame, she was the subject of books, movies and the inspiration for the smash Broadway play “Annie Get Your Gun.” Like many Midwesterners, Annie let her “Teamwork, Tone, Tenacity” actions do her talking.  She wasn’t a professional motivational speaker, but when she did speak her words were impactful. Three Annie Oakley motivational citations emphasize key principles of leadership that are relevant today: TEAMWORK:  “A crowned queen was never treated with more reverence than I was by those whole-souled western boys [of “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show] … And for 17 years I was their sister, sharing both their news of joy and sorrow from home.” - Annie was acknowledged as one of the most approachable, enthusiastic and empathetic member of the hundreds of performers on her team. TONE: “After traveling through 14...

The Apollo 11 mission, or the mission of Neil Armstrong's "Giant Leap For Mankind”, occurred 49 years ago this week.  This mission was a tremendous example of “T3”: Teamwork: NASA’s tens of thousands of contributed for many years to this historic mission’s success. Tone: All astronauts were perfectly poised under pressure while (borrowing a phrase from the opening of Star Trek) ‘boldy going where no man has gone before” Tenacity:  The program’s trials and errors included the tragic loss of Apollo 1 and it’s three astronaut heroes in 1967 I can remember watching this momentous event on a Black & White console TV on a Sunday night in Long Island as an 7 year old … and thinking, God Bless America! The Becker T3Group focuses on improving personal and team results by reflecting on real world examples of leadership and translating “T3” practices into corporate pillars of performance, productivity and profit....

VADM James Stockdale, USN (Ret) passed away 13 years ago this month. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for inspirational and ethical leadership as America’s senior POW in Vietnam for nearly eight years. His five timeless lessons of being a Moralist, Jurist, Teacher, Steward and Philosopher live on today. Moralist: Commitment to a personal code of conduct Jurist: Establish guidance which can be implemented in times of adversity Teacher: Set the example of self-discipline, establishing a motivational climate and creating organizational pride Steward: Serve as the standard for personal commitment and loyalty Philosopher: Be able to reason, explain reality and deal with uncertainty Admiral Stockdale’s example profoundly impacted my career. I first read about him in grade school, had the privilege to meet him for the first time during my plebe year at the Naval Academy and we reconnected several times during my career. He was one of my first military role models of "Teamwork, Tone, Tenacity” which later became my watchwords of excellence. I’m proud the U.S. Navy's most prestigious Leadership Award is named in his honor, and that the Naval Academy’s Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership is dedicated to "Empowering future leaders to make courageous and ethical decisions." As long as young leaders follow Admiral Stockdale’s guidance, our future is bright. Looking for meaningful reading on ethical leadership this summer?...

Last week was America’s 242nd birthday and it brings to mind the brave signers of the Declaration of Independence. Getting 56 delegates from 13 colonies to sign the Declaration Of Independence in 1776 was no easy task. It took leaders with courage, conviction and commitment to do what no colony had ever done before: break away from their mother country. Here are three leadership lessons from the signers: 1. Teamwork 56 Delegates at the Continental Congress had to work together, agree to compromises and demonstrate trust and loyalty with each other to reach unanimous consensus.  Considered an act of treason by Great Britain, the delegates risked death by affixing their signatures to this Declaration. As signatory Benjamin Franklin said, "We must all hang together or most assuredly we will all hang separately.” 2. Tone The most overlooked line of the Declaration is its last sentence: "And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”  Now that’s setting an inspirational standard to motivate a new nation.  These founding fathers put their lives, fortunes and honor on the line for their country ...

Martha Washington’s birthday was June 13th.  She played a vital role in supporting the successes of her husband in peace, crisis and combat.  Mrs. Washington overcame much adversity in her own life: A widow at age 25, the loss of two young children and frequent, long separations from a military spouse.  She was a quiet exemplar of “Teamwork, Tone, Tenacity.”  Specifically: Teamwork:  Martha endured personal hardship to join General George Washington at the Continental Army’s winter encampments at Valley Forge over several years.  In those frigid environs she helped lift morale of soldiers and maintain an esprit de corps amongst other military spouses. Tone:  She knew travails and tribulations all too well.  Her attitude in overcoming adversity is reflected in one of her most famous citations, “The greater part of our happiness depends on our dispositions and not on our circumstances.” Tenacity:  An astute businesswoman, Martha was tireless in successfully managing the Mount Vernon and Custis estates for 50 years, including prolonged periods of absence due to combat and political demands of her husband.  She persevered with a purpose when it came to taking care of their family home; a place she knew that she and George would come back to after decades of public service. Martha Washington's leadership aided in defining our nation as she exemplified real T3 traits in her life. Paul...

In 2014 I was at the top of my game professionally and personally.  I was a two-star Admiral serving as the Director of Intelligence for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and had recently completed the Honolulu Marathon.  Then I was shockingly diagnosed with Stage IV Bone Marrow Marrow Cancer. ...