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Book Jacket

256 pages
Apr 2009
Palgrave Macmillan

Leading the Charge: Leadership Lessons from the Battlefield to the Boardroom

by Tony Zinni

Review  |   Author Bio  |  Read an Excerpt


Although it takes awhile to get to the meat of Leading the Charge: Leadership Lessons from the Battlefield to the Boardroom by Gen. Tony Zinni and Tony Koltz, the book does deliver on its promise to provide leadership lessons. Zinni, a former U.S. Marine general and business motivational speaker, has appeared on such national TV shows as "Meet the Press" and "The Daily Show." His former book, Battle for Peace, was also co-authored by Koltz, who has also co-authored two books with novelist Tom Clancy.

For the first 50 pages of this book Zinni goes on a tirade about how today's leaders in America are trying to solve 21st century problems with 20th century methods, and the result has been the collapse of the banking system, a greatly depressed stock market, the toppling of the Twin Towers, the bankruptcy of General Motors, and the foreclosures of tens of thousands of homes across the country. Drawing from his years of fighting wars in Vietnam and the Middle East, and his experience as a consultant with corporations, Zinni offers some radical new ways of facing problems.

One of his strategies is always to ask, "And then what?" He says that no one doubted that the U.S. could defeat Saddam Hussein, but no one had bothered to think about what to do after the victory. Occupation? Withdrawal? Financial support? Government aid? As a result, the U.S. has spent billions of dollars in a situation it doesn't know how to get out of.

Zinni explains that leadership is getting people to do what leaders want them to do. This often comes from "leadership moments," those times when a leader shows strength, vision, and purpose and convinces everyone around him or her to join in. For example, when the Russians put a satellite in space, it horrified the Americans until JFK announced boldly that before the end of the decade of the 1960s the U.S. would put a man on the moon and bring him back safely. This rallied the country and put the U.S. ahead in the space program.

Oddly enough, in analyzing the powerful leaders of history, there are no common physical or social attributes that create a leadership image. Napoleon was short, but Washington was tall. Hitler and Stalin had mustaches, but Churchill and FDR were clean shaven. Calvin Coolidge was soft-spoken, calm, and humble, but George S. Patton was loud, pushy, and blunt. According to Zinni, the only three things that great leaders have all had in common have been courage when it was needed, intelligence for developing wide-raging strategies, and a determined will to see programs through to completion. Said another way, great leaders "Be-know-do," a phrase recently adopted by the U.S. Army.

Zinni insists that leaders of today need to be master communicators, who are capable of making wise decisions and then carrying out their mandates with speed. His chapters offer insights on how to develop and exercise these skills. The book ends with another long treatise on the current weakness of the U.S. Thus, pages 50 - 200 offer the best lessons and the fewest speeches. -- Dr. Dennis Hensley,

Book Jacket:

“What’s happened to our leaders and to our leadership?” Based on General Zinni’s leadership experiences from the battlefield to the boardroom, Leading the Charge shows a new way through the significant leadership challenges of the 21st century.

The times are changing at an ever-increasing velocity. Old systems, organizations, and ways of operating no longer work in our dynamic, complex and increasingly unstable new environment. Out of this chaos and confusion, a new and different leader must emerge. Old systems and methods will no longer work.

Leading the Charge is a visionary leadership book that examines the trends that have reshaped our world and the ways in which visionary leaders and organizations can effectively respond. Tomorrow’s successful leaders—in all fields, including the military, academia, politics, and business—must know how to create, operate, and thrive in very fluid, flattened, and integrated structures that are remarkably different from the traditional organizations we are used to seeing. They will have to manage rapidly changing technology and flows of information, and create faster and more far-reaching spans of control.

Leading the Charge shows the way, and is an incisive and compelling guide to the new world of leadership, one that will prove indispensable for years to come.