I believe any formal leader of an organization must consistently spend time and effort asking questions like, “what’s next?” and “what if?” for their people they lead. Leading truly purposeful and effective organizations requires deliberate forecasting, thinking about the future, and considering all of the change that the future can bring.
It is no different for military leaders and the future of war.
If you’re not fighting the war of today, prepare for the war of tomorrow.
Since joining the profession of arms, this has been my guiding principle. If you’re not fighting today, then prepare to fight tomorrow. What we faced in our most recent conflicts will not exactly be what we face in our future conflicts.
In today’s global environment, wars are no longer declared and no longer follow the rules as they did in the past. Asymmetric and indirect operations take precedence and war is waged simultaneously in all physical environments and the information space. The enemy is no longer the most important target in the battlefield. Instead, his critically important facilities are. This has been accepted as the norm, notably in a 2016 report by the Russian Chief of the General Staff. Continue reading → Fiction and Future War
I had the great fortune of completing my 2018 reading goal of 50 books this week. To many busy professionals, myself included, that is a pretty large number. I totally get that it may seem unrealistic to many. So, upfront, I want to share my two greatest personal reading lessons from 2018:
Learn to leverage the power of audiobooks. As you can see in the books I read in July through December 2018, below, approximately half of them where audiobooks, annotated by the asterisk (*) at the end of the author’s name. Filling times of mindless busy work with audiobook listening drastically improved my capacity to consume additional literature. Learn more about my thoughts on the power of audiobooks here.
In his post on the Field Grade Leader blog, Franklin Annis offered one of my favorite thoughts about self-development: choose learning over non-learning activities. Effective self-development requires disciplined habits, which can include choices such as listening to an audiobook instead of music, reading a few pages in your book over skimming social media, or engaging in some personal reflection activity over watching TV. Choosing reading activities can add minutes to your self-development time each week. Considering the bigger picture, minutes add up to hours, and hours add to multiple additional books completed.
If you follow 3×5 Leadership, even just casually, you know that I emphasize reading as a critical means of self-development. So far, 2018 has been an extremely impactful time of learning through reading for me. If you want to learn my thoughts on reading for self-development, I encourage you to check out my “Leaders are Readers” series and my Junior Officer Reading & Self-Development List.
This is an exciting season when our next generation of new Army officers join our ranks and take up the mantle of responsibility of leading our Soldiers in conflict to support and defend our Constitution. This time of transition from cadet to officer is truly inspiring and naturally a life-long honor and memory; I distinctly remember my own day of tossing my cap in the air as pictured above years ago.
With this transition, however, comes an extreme change in environment. No longer are you surrounded by (literally) dozens of officers solely focused on pouring into your development as a leader academically, militarily, physically; no one is designated to help educate you on the importance of character and leadership. Unfortunately, this massive leader development support structure surrounding you is now gone. Your continued development as a leader is now your own responsibility.
“The single best way a leader can learn and grow is through reading…So many of our best leaders develop and enhance their ability to lead through endless contact with books.” –ADM. (Ret.) James Stavridis, US Navy
The coming weeks of graduation leave and Basic Officer Leader Course (BOLC) is an ideal time to start a habit of self-development, to continue to learn about leadership, developing your own leadership style, and better understanding the profession you are now a member of. This is my list of recommended reads and self-development resources to kickstart your “leader growth journey.” These are the books I wish I read first before being a platoon leader; these are the blogs I wish existed when I was preparing for platoon leadership and company command; these are the Army doctrine publications I wish I mastered before trying to develop my own subordinates. Start with these. Just like your mom used to make you do during summer break back in middle school, spend 20 minutes a day reading; the interest of value you gain will compound with time. Continue reading → The Junior Officer Reading & Self-Development List
This is Part 7 of an eight-part series addressing the value of reading for leaders’ personal and professional development. You can begin the series with Part I: Introduction HERE.
The previous six parts to this series have aimed to inspire and equip you with tools to initiate or improve your own personal reading program to grow as a leader. However, I argue your next challenge is to do the same for your people. Whether in a formal leadership position or not, you can easily influence subordinates, peers, and even superiors alike to engage in professional development reading through simple conversation and deliberate behaviors.
You have a responsibility to inspire and equip them to take responsibility for their own leader growth and to commit to reading. Self-discovery toward improved professional maturity (the Army’s self-development pillar) must be encouraged and supported by caring leaders who invest in their people. Ultimately, this emphasis will improve your organization’s overall professionalism, commitment to improvement (being a learning organization), and ultimately the results you achieve. Continue reading → Leaders Are Readers Part VII: Your Responsibility to Inspire Others
This is Part 6 of an eight-part series addressing the value of reading for leaders’ personal and professional development. You can begin the series with Part I: Introduction HERE.
Here are the amounts of time it took for entertainment and social media platforms to reach 50 million users:
Radio: 38 years
TV: 13 years
Internet: 4 years
Facebook: 5 years
iPod: 3 years
Twitter: 9 months
Instagram: 6 months
Angry Birds game: 35 days
Pokémon Go: 19 days
Our world, the way we spend our time, and the way we receive information is changing. That is easy to see, both in the statistics above and in our own lives. The way we learn should evolve as well.
Our reading programs, and the tools and systems I’ve discussed so far in this series, are ultimately about learning and growing as professionals. Our means of learning should adapt with our environments, meaning books alone (though incredibly valuable) should not be your only source of “learning through reading.” We need to diversify our sources of information and reading. Here are some other great resources to incorporate into your own professional reading program. Continue reading → Leaders Are Readers Part VI: Reading Online & On Social Media
This is Part 5 of an eight-part series addressing the value of reading for leaders’ personal and professional development. You can begin the series with Part I: Introduction HERE.
I try to commit to reading 30 minutes a day toward my personal reading program (outside of daily Biblical devotion time). Though that doesn’t sound like much of a time consumer, it is still somehow hard to enact that each day. Life happens and ends up having other plans for me, which I’m sure you can easily relate to. It often becomes challenging to find 30 quiet minutes a day to read.
This is Part 4 of an eight-part series addressing the value of reading for leaders’ personal and professional development. You can begin the series with Part I: Introduction HERE.
If you’re like me when I started my professional reading program, I consumed volumes of nonfiction, without even a thought about fiction. When considering fiction books, I think of fantasy series like Harry Potter or Hunger Games; not necessarily books that contribute to leader development (though Angry Staff Officer makes a good argument in writing the many leadership lessons of Star Wars).
There are obvious reasons to read certain nonfiction such as biographies and history, which certainly equip us with knowledge and skills of past events. However, I have recently learned the immense value that fiction can bring to my professional and personal development.