Big Chief Elizabeth by Giles Milton

“Run out and buy a copy.” “Couldn’t put it down.” “Wish they’d make it into a movie but in the end a great book never does well on film.” These are just a few of the many superlative remarks I offer to you about Milton’s book. And yes, this is straight-shooting. I’m not being glib or sarcastic. Don’t stop reading this review, however, because I think you’ll want to learn a little more about my … [Read more...]

The Levels of Leaders on the Ground

One night in the early spring I received a call at home. It was not long after supper, my wife Kelly and daughter Haley and me were cleaning up the table, washing dishes, getting ready for the rest of what we knew would be a nice evening at home. The call was unexpected and the voice on the other end was even more so. For me, and hopefully for the person to whom the voice belonged, it was an … [Read more...]

The Self-Perception of Innovation

One of my recent sessions at a hospital produced a discussion of innovation. When I asked about the state of innovation at this hospital, the participants agreed that it was next to impossible to innovate in the organization. They proceeded to list a variety of reasons why that was, ranging from fear of failure to stale attitudes toward change. The strength of their consensus was surprising to … [Read more...]

Delegation into united or divided teams

Not long ago a group of promising leaders at a hospital explored the role of delegation in leadership. In the discussion they encountered the issue of whether they preferred to delegate tasks on a major project into a team that was united in its pursuit of that project or into one that had evident divisions over it. Such a project might be a building expansion, the development of a significant new … [Read more...]

What if Jeremiah Greenman’s leader had behaved differently?

Benedict Arnold was the leader of the Quebec march. He was Greenman’s leader. Surprised? Get ready for more surprises. Before we go to the “what-if”, permit me to provide some background. Benedict Arnold is the most infamous traitor in American history. His name has become a synonym for betrayal and has remained thus for more than 200 years. That’s a legacy. Arnold was 34 years old at the … [Read more...]

Cell Phones, YouTube, and the Constitutional Convention of 1787

What if one of the delegates at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 had used their cell phone to record debate and then posted it on YouTube? Wow, that takes a minute to grasp. In case you aren't aware, you can buy a cell phone that has the capability to record "moving pictures", like a camcorder. You can then post the film on the internet. For many people, especially those under thirty years … [Read more...]

What if…John Wilkes Booth had not assassinated Abraham Lincoln?

What if Booth had not killed Lincoln? Put another way, what if Lincoln had lived through two complete presidential terms? In my view, had Lincoln lived and died of natural causes his reputation would reach us today in lessened form. We would not have the near Christ-like admiration that most people express for Lincoln. Conversely, we would probably still have the current minority (which is … [Read more...]

The Eloquent President by Ronald White, Jr.

All of us want to speak and write persuasively. Some of us do one or the other well. Few are masters of both. Ronald White Jr. has written a book that explores the great speeches and writings of Abraham Lincoln as president. As you gather from the title, The Eloquent President, White concludes that Lincoln is without peer or parallel in his ability to communicate from the White House, be it as … [Read more...]

Empire and Independence by Richard Van Alstyne

Don’t make the mistake of thinking an older, out-of-print book can’t offer interesting information and points of view. For me, a book written in 1965 by Richard Van Alstyne, Empire and Independence, is an example of time well-spent reading a book you can only find in quaint used book shops or on similar Internet sites. Van Alstyne’s book is brief and written for someone with a keen interest in the … [Read more...]

This Man’s Army: A Soldier’s Story From the Front Lines of the War on Terrorism, by Andrew Exum

Published in 2004, this book covers the experiences of a young man from Tennessee as he joins the Army, becomes a lieutenant, trains as a Ranger, and serves in the 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan. Andrew Exum, the author, is the lieutenant. It’s a brief book, easy to read. Exum offers an honest glimpse into the daily life of a company-grade infantry officer in the Afghan War. He does so … [Read more...]