22 December 2014

What skills must the most senior military leaders have?

A recent discussion about senior leaders from another thread with my good friend and mentor COL Raymond Elderd got me thinking. As we consider the most senior executives in the military or corporate America, what skills are most important to have at that level?  When considering the service Chiefs or Senior Enlisted Advisors, they may be the best operational leaders ever, but what good does it do the entire force if they don’t have the strategic vision to look 5-10+ years into the horizon to anticipate the needs of the force?  Even more importantly, what good is that vision if you can’t sell those ideas to the American public & key leaders such as the SECDEF, POTUS, and Congress in order to fund that vision?  As it relates to corporate America, the pedigree of many CEOs is varied from a sales foundation, to engineering, to R&D, accounting, operations or other disciplines.  In corporate America, as with many senior military leaders, they typically worry about the outward facing issues of a company while their senior operations folks worry about the day-to-day blocking and tackling (or “top down stuff”).  Given this background, what skills do you think are MOST necessary at the senior levels of the military, and do you think we do a good job of breeding leaders with those skills?  Also, food for thought - what leaders do you think did the best job as strategic thinkers, and why?

Comment to vote on one of the following options!:
- They should be former operators (combat arms, pilots, captains of vessels, etc.)
- They should be support functions with varied experience
- They should be scholars with heavy civilian education
- It is irrelevant and should be unique to each individual/service need at that time

Comment below or start the conversation here and connect within the military community.