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H. Norman Schwarzkopf Before 1990, four-star general H. Norman Schwarzkopf had a low profile – earning $113,000 a year heading a small, non-combat planning staff. But the Gulf War in Iraq showed America what a charismatic leader it had in “Stormin’ Norman.” True, he had been described as amiable and down to earth – the kind of guy who’d be fun to go bowling with. As a leader, however, he demonstrated a conviction and toughness that commanded respect and loyalty. As he said, “Nobody wants to be led by some common jerk off the street. People like to feel that leaders who are making the critical decisions that are going to affect their lives have to live their lives with a set of character values higher than that of ordinary society.” To gain the upper hand during the Gulf War, Schwar- zkopf decided to amass U.S. troops along the Kuwaiti coast while surreptitiously stationing forces far west, hoping to deceive the Iraqis long enough to carry out a successful strike. His commanders thought the plan would never work, and fought him on it. With the knowl- edge that his troops’ lives were on the line, Schwarzkopf agonized over the plan “every waking and sleeping moment.” Thanks to his plan, though, American forces achieved victory on the ground in just four days. After the war, Schwarzkopf received numerous hon- ors, including a New York City ticker-tape parade, an honorary knighthood from the Queen of England, the Medal of Freedom, and a standing ovation from a joint session of Congress. But he remained more in awe of his accountability as a leader than his own accolades. “When you lead in a battle,” he said, “you are leading people – human beings. I have seen competent leaders who stood in front of a platoon and all they saw was a platoon. But great leaders stand in front of a platoon and see it as 44 individuals, each of whom has aspira- tions, each of whom wants to live, each of whom wants to do good.”


Colin L. Powell As Secretary of State under George W. Bush, from 2001 to 2005, Colin Powell became known as the go-to person for practical solutions. Powell encouraged his staff to share bad news quickly and ask questions if his guidance seemed unclear – even if that meant ask- ing continued questions after repeated explanations. And that philosophy went both ways. Working under Presidents Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush, Powell never hesitated to give his honest input, even if it ruffled feathers. “I’ve said, ‘You don’t pay me to give you happy talk; you pay me to tell you what I think.’”


Over the years Powell developed ways of making himself available to subordinates. During his army com- mand, he walked a fixed route at the same time each day. Since everyone keeps an eye on the boss and his habits, soldiers quickly learned to take advantage of this valuable


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face time. As chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Powell told employees to enter and leave his office “without exag- gerated ceremony.” He kept round tables in his office and conference rooms, so no one would ever occupy the head seat. His desk was colossal in size but, when people entered his office, he was quick to come out from behind it for a handshake. Powell, who retired from his position as Secretary of State in 2004, continued to give speeches and promote the charity he had founded in 1997, America’s Promise, with the objective of improving resources and education for children. For Powell, success had always been about coupling a big-picture focus with a drive to prove his op- ponents wrong by sticking it out and doing his best. “By doing my best every day, day after day, year after year,” he wrote in his autobiography, My American Journey, “I finally got to the top.”


Margaret Thatcher


During her 11 years as Prime Minister of Great Britain, Margaret Thatcher encouraged her fellow citizens to assume a greater share of individual responsibility and to treasure the gift of independence. In a speech, she stated, “I came to office with one deliberate intent: to change Britain from a dependent to a self-reliant society; from a give-it-to-me to a do-it-yourself nation; a get-up-and-go instead of a sit-back-and-wait Britain.” When political opponents jeered her vision, she often quoted George Bernard Shaw: “Liberty means responsi- bility. That is why most men dread it.” Thatcher expressed her very distinct brand of politi- cal wisdom (which became known as Thatcherism) in simple, yet powerful words. When asked about her feelings as a woman in a field traditionally dominated by men, she remarked that gender did not matter. “What matters is your grasp of the problems and the need for action.” When the Russians dubbed her the “Iron Lady” in an attempt to deride her, Thatcher viewed the label as a medal of honor. Thatcher’s parents taught her a strict sense of proto- col. “There were certain things you just didn’t do, and that was that. Duty was very, very strongly ingrained into us.” She made sure that other heads of state would ad- dress her as Madame Prime Minister, not as “Margaret.” In 1992, two years after she resigned as prime min-


ister, Thatcher received life peerage as Baroness Thatcher. In 2006, at 81 years old, Thatcher traveled to Washington, DC, to attend a memorial service mark- ing the fifth year since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. After the assassination attempt on her own life in 1984, when Irish Republicans planted a bomb in her hotel, Thatcher was quick to resume her scheduled duties. That same day, she addressed a conference audience, saying, “The fact that we are gathered here now – shocked, but composed and determined – is a sign not only that this attack has failed, but that all attempts to destroy democracy by terrorism will fail.”


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