Petraeus's Rules for Living

Article excerpt

Byline: Paula Broadwell

Lessons on leadership from the life of Gen. David Petraeus.

1. Lead by example from the front of the formation. Take your performance personally--if you are proud to be average, so too will be your troops.

2. A leader must provide a vision--clear and achievable "big ideas" combined in a strategic concept--and communicate those ideas throughout the entire organization and to all other stakeholders.

3. A leader needs to give energy; don't be an oxygen thief.

4. There is an exception to every rule, standard operating procedure, and policy; it is up to leaders to determine when exceptions should be made and to explain why they made them.

5. We all will make mistakes. The key is to recognize them and admit them, to learn from them, and to take off the rearview mirrors--drive on and avoid making them again.

6. Be humble. The people you'll be leading already have on-the-ground conflict experience. "Listen and learn."

7. Be a team player. "Your team's triumphs and failures will, obviously, be yours." Take ownership of both.

8. Don't rely on rank. If you rely on rank, rather than on the persuasiveness of your logic, the problem could be you and either your thinking or your communi- cation skills. …