3×5 Leadership Monthly Top 5

February 2018

1. Leadership Quote

“Preparation and reflection must be the bookends of every experience we encounter, as well as one we offer our subordinates.”

How are you leveraging preparation and reflection to maximize experiential growth for yourself and your people?

2. Idea to Implement

When he was Apple’s CEO, Steve Jobs cared to involve multiple people with diverse backgrounds of experience, education, and thinking to develop and improve the company’s strategic thinking. Jobs would meet once a year with Apple’s “top 100” employees, who were selected on the single criterion: the 100 people you would take with you “on a lifeboat” to start a new company. At the annual event, he would lead this group through a process of identifying the “top 10 things we should be doing next.”

You don’t need to be the CEO of a multi-billion-dollar company to implement this idea. Gather your top people scaled to your organization’s size; maybe pick the top 10 people of your 100-person organization for example. Guide them to create the list of 10 things we need to do next or improve on in the next year. I personally recommend not to be involved in the list generation, let them do that as a group on their own. Guiding them means walk them through our current organizational shared vision and goals, guidance from higher headquarters as necessary, big events already taking place in the next year, and any other information necessary to consider.

3. Leadership Lesson I Learned



Use the SWOT analysis as a model to help make informed organizational decisions. I learned about the SWOT analysis during my engineering management graduate program and believe it can be highly impactful toward leaders’ decision making.

The SWOT analysis lists out organizational strengths and weaknesses (internal factors) and environmental opportunities and threats (external factors). When making critical organizational decisions, use these four factors to frame relevant information to help inform your decision. Through repetition, leaders can develop this as a natural mental model to enable timely informed decisions.

4. Book Recommendation


Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, by Malcolm Gladwell. I enjoy Malcolm Gladwell’s books as they leverage interesting cases to make an insightful argument; he tells great stories and I am always keenly engaged. However, I don’t personally feel his other books have direct application to leader development and performance. This book, though, does. Especially in the first half, this book directly impacts how military commanders can improve decision-making and manage information. I highly recommend this book for all Army officers prior to assuming company command.

5. Favorite Blog or Article

Would Your Squad Leaders Attend Your Funeral? by From the Green Notebook blog

Not only do I love the author of this blog post, my previous brigade commander, COL Curtis Taylor, I believe this is one of the best leadership questions to assess transformational leadership and leadership legacy. It’s also an important audience to consider; as an officer, they are your most important people to get results, but you don’t often have the ability interact with them on a routine and personal level.

Bonus: Leader Tool Recommendation


The SELF Journal, by BestSelf Co. First, I am deeply passionate about the power of reflective activities and engage in several myself day-to-day. Second, I am a huge fan of the products that BestSelf is creating. They are beautiful and simple, but also do an amazing job of blending the need to remain organized and to reflect during daily activities. I recommend you try out a SELF Journal to aid in your personal organization and reflection!

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