How Do 4-Star Generals Create Amazing Teams?

by blogadmin 15. March 2018 02:26

Our U.S. military is known for generating extrordinary leaders through values, team work, and communication. What methods can we glean from these principles ot make our own teams stronger? How can we create high-performing leaders that work together?

Retired General Ann E. Dunwoody is the first woman in the U.S. military to have achieved the rank of 4-star general, which she received in 2008 as a member of the U.S. Army. In her last assignment, she led the largest global logistics command in the Army: over 69,000 military and civilian personnel in over 140 countries with a budget of 60 billion dollars. Today, she leads and serves on the boards of several communications, logistics, and mentoring firms. Kevin Kruse of Forbes recently sat down with Gen. Dunwoody where she gave her best advice for leaders and how to hold people accountable. 


No matter what level you are, make every person on your team count. Everybody has something to contribute. And if you can bring the best out in each of your team members then you're going to have a great team, but that also requires you to reward good behavior. So, when you have those people who are exceeding the standards and doing a great job for your team, that you acknowledge that, that you pat them on the back, you shake their hand, you give them the t-shirt, you give them the bonus, whatever.

And, likewise, the harder part of that equation is when you have people that aren't meeting the standard, who are dragging the team down, you have to deal with them as well. Either corrective mentoring, counseling, or try to get them on board, or something to make sure they don't drag the team down.

And, I believe this, people want to be a part of a high performing organization. They want to make a difference, but they want to be appreciated. And so, when you recognize those people are going to get on that side of the team, they want to be part of those who are getting the handshake, no one wants to be told they are not doing well. So, in my experience, that's how you build high performing organizations from the smallest team to the highest level.

So, reward the good performance, take care of the ones not carrying their load, and you will create amazing teams. For more quality advice, read her latest book, A Higher Standard: Leadership Strategies from America's First Female 4-Star General.

Leading with Vision

by blogadmin 4. August 2009 06:27

By definition, creating vision requires that you are able to identify needed change.  Leaders must be able to sense when trends are shifting; a new need is emerging, and determine how to maximize the benefits of those changes to the organization.  This process then results in creating a vision of where the organization and/or team should go next. 

Identifying changing trends means keeping your fingers on the pulse of where our country, community, industry, and clients are heading.  The better we can anticipate those trends, the greater the opportunity for growth.  Recently, we have seen the results of not doing so in the automotive industry.  For GM and Chrysler in particular, they waited too long before understanding the imperative of going green and providing more fuel efficient cars.  As a result, neither company is operating the same as they did a year ago, nor are they able to maintain an independent status.  GM is largely owned by the U.S. government, and Chrysler merged with a foreign auto manufacturer.

Creating vision necessitates listening and watching where the movement in the market is taking place.  It means listening to our clients, our staff, and other professionals.  It means finding ways to connect the dots before others even label something a trend and getting on board first before our competitors.

There are several questions that may be helpful for you to consider in the process of creating vision: 

1.  What are you reading?  How broadly are you reading?  You should make it a point to read a wide variety of periodicals, books, blogs, etc. that can keep you informed on what trends are developing.

2.  Frequently ask yourself, what does this mean to our clients?  Even more importantly, what does this mean for our prospects?  This will begin to identify needs and emerging preferences to which you may be able to respond.

3.  Stay connected with other successful professionals.  Listen to their observations, concerns, and thoughts.  This will help to broaden your thinking and your ability to anticipate future changes.

If you would like to learn more about leadership and how to create vision, you can contact us about our upcoming workshop, “Leading with Vision” on August 27th from 7:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.  Join other successful professionals who will learn the secrets to creating a great vision!  Contact us at 616-550-9796, or at for more information on this or other workshops being offered this fall.

Excellence: Looking from the Outside In

by blogadmin 24. July 2009 04:50

Excellence for many organizations means finding a need, becoming proficient at what you do, and then maintain systems to ensure quality.  While all of these steps are important, most organizations see them as static.  For example, if a deli decides that they are going to invest in becoming the best at providing low cost menu for patrons.  This may be a good goal now, but what about the future?  Many resist looking at themselves anew once they have set and established a goal.  They feel they have succeeded at that goal, so why change?


The problem of course is that your customers and the world at large is changing.  What your clients need today is not what they will need tomorrow or the day after.  As leaders, we need to always be looking ahead to continue redefining our goals and how we provide services and products to our clients.


Summit Landscape Management who has reinvented their business is an example of this principle.  When they began, they were doing lawn maintenance and landscaping.  They quickly saw however, that this alone would not be enough.  Their clients (especially commercial clients) needed access to tree services.  They quickly established a tree services division.


Recently, they realized that lawn care was being provided by smaller neighborhood entrepreneurs more cost effectively than they could provide.   They also realized that client’s were now more focused on environmental services such as green roofs, rain gardens, and waste water systems.  They started a new company called I4 Group, Inc. to provide environmental consulting. 


They were willing to look at themselves anew and ask the questions again, “What do we need to do differently to effectively anticipate the needs of our clients?”   If entrepreneurs define their success not based on internal need, but rather as defined by their clients, it will keep them moving and adapting for the duration of their business. 


The ability to redefine and adjust our goals to the marketplace has never been needed more than now.  Change is happening so quickly that for organizations and leaders to succeed, they must be nimble and talented at the art of reinvention.  These characteristics will determine who will succeed and who will fail!  A good exercise is to consider not what is next, but what will come next after that!  If you are adjusting to change that has already occurred, you are too late.  You need to be preparing for the change that is yet to come and that perhaps your clients have not even identified yet.



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