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Dec 16, 2019

What are universal rules of leadership that inspire trust, loyalty and excellence from others?

Major General Craig Whelden spent 30 years in the U.S. Army, followed by seven in the private sector, and another nine as a member of the Senior Executive Service (SES) with the U.S. Marine Corps.

Along the way, he led soldiers at each level from lieutenant to General Officer while serving 10 years in Europe and another 12 in the Pacific. An Armor and Cavalry officer, he commanded a base in Germany as a colonel and, as a brigadier general, oversaw a $1.6B program supporting soldiers and family members world-wide.

Present at the Pentagon on 9/11, he subsequently led the effort to secure the state of Hawaii from a terrorist attack, an effort that received national recognition. After retiring from the Army in 2003, Craig chaired a national conference on “Information Sharing and Homeland Security” for three years.

In 2008, Craig was asked to organize and run a Secretary of the Army initiative to bring greater awareness to the American public of the sacrifices of service-members and their families during a time of war. For this effort, he was recognized by Secretary Pete Geren with the top two awards for civilians.

In 2010, Craig became the Executive Director for Marine Corps Forces Pacific, overseeing a multi-billion-dollar program to reposition marines in the Pacific – the largest such effort since World War II.

In 2011, he was inducted into the Purdue University Tri-Service ROTC Hall of Fame.

Recently retired, Craig is now a motivational speaker and author of the award-winning book, Leadership, The Art Of Inspiring People To Be Their Best.

In today’s conversation with us, Craig shares valuable lessons he learned from nearly 50 years of leadership experience – from the examples he saw to the leadership he then chose to demonstrate.

We explore the qualities of leadership, common pitfalls, and how to prioritize what is most important – both in life and family as well as in a time of national crisis. Rich in storytelling and reflection, Craig offers up valuable wisdom that any leader and aspiring leader of transformation can learn from.  

Key Takeaways

  1. There are universal rules of leadership that can apply to just about any profession, military or otherwise.
  2. There’s a perception that in the military all you have to do is issues orders and people will immediately comply. They will comply but they’ll do it at a different level depending on how that order is issued.
  3. Character is the foundation of all good leaders.
  4. The second most important quality of a leader is trust. Trusting your subordinates, allowing them to do their job and letting them know you trust them. And they will trust you back.
  5. Loyalty is a two-way street. Loyalty goes up the chain and down the chain. If you want to make sure that people do the best they possibly can for you, then demonstrate the loyalty down the chain to the people who work for you. When times are tough for them, show them that you’re on their side.
  6. One way to gain trust is to not demonstrate arrogance because of your rank and position. Show them humility and that you are open to learning from them.
  7. While the very top ranks in any industry are achievable, they come at great cost.
  8. Don’t look back, look forward.
  9. There is light at the end of the tunnel. You just can’t see it yet.
  10. You have to decide what’s important to you and establish boundaries around that.
  11. In a crisis often the first reports you get are wrong. You need to understand that up front.
  12. Life is like walking along a path. Along the path you see rocks. Each of those rocks represents good things and bad things. Pick them both up and put them in your rucksack. Because you want to replicate the good things you’ve seen, and you want to ensure you don’t repeat those things you’ve seen that are bad.


Book – Leadership: The Art Of Inspiring People To Be Their Best

Connect With Craig Whelden