JS Tip 449: Veterans and Leadership

From the Leadership Workshops: A Veteran’s Leadership Lesson

We’ll celebrate Veterans Day.  

We’ll explore a veteran's leadership lesson.

We’ll hear from Nathaniel Fick, the author of One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer. 

Fick served as a platoon commander in Afghanistan. One freezing night, he was checking his Marines’ defensive positions:


  • Farther down the line, in the middle of a gravelly flat near the runway’s end, I approached another fighting hole, careful to come from the rear and listen for the verbal challenge. It was an assault rocket team, and there should have been two Marines awake.

    In the moonlight, I saw three heads silhouetted against the sky. I slid down into the hole with a rustle of cascading dirt. General Mattis leaned against a wall of sandbags, talking with a sergeant and a lance corporal.

    This was real leadership. No one would have questioned Mattis if he’d slept eight hours each night in a private room, to be woken each morning by an aide who ironed his uniforms and heated his MREs.

    But there he was, in the middle of a freezing night, out on the lines with his Marines. (Houghton Mifflin, 2005, page 118)



Participative leadership.


General James Mattis is the current Secretary of Defense.

Examples like this are why we love this stuff.


Mark Brooks