Military Scholars–Another Blessing from Fort Gordon

Posted by on Apr 6, 2016 in Perry's Blog | 0 comments


By Perry Smith

Two weeks ago at Fort Gordon, I conducted a workshop on executive leadership for 64 Army officers (mostly majors). They had just commenced a four-month course of the Army Command and General Staff College.

These officers are highly experienced professionals, half have a masters degree and many will move on to positions of high responsibility in the Army.

Covered in the workshop were heroic, crisis, ethical, strategic, toxic, creative, and compassionate leadership. Heavy emphasis was placed on the advantages that leaders have if they use leverage well.

I gained my insight on leverage right here in Augusta.  I was giving, for the first time, platelets at the Shepeard blood center on Wrightsboro Road.

Whenever I engage in something new, I ask myself two questions. 1. What am I doing strategically? 2. Am I learning anything that I might apply elsewhere in my life? All of a sudden the light bulb came on. I was in the process of leveraging my blood. By donating eight pints worth of platelets, I was helping more people than when I was giving one pint of whole blood.

I quickly shifted my thinking to how leverage might apply to leadership. I realized that the best leaders use leverage well.

Here are the areas of leverage which are emphasized in my workshops at the Goizueta Business School’s MBA and EMBA programs, the Hull School of Business, the Augusta University Cancer Center, the Blue Ridge Conference on Leadership, Leadership Augusta, and with a number of other audiences.


  1. Leverage your friends.Build a big braintrust of smart, well-connected people who can help you in time of need. A braintrust of about three hundred people is ideal. When you need help, they are quick to assist. In turn, when they ask for help, you should rapidly respond.  Included in this braintrust should be people who are especially strong in the area of integrity. When I was deciding about whether to resign from CNN over its dishonest reporting–the Valley of Death (nerve gas) Special–, I reached out to a dozen people, including my wife, Connor, my son and daughter, and others who had high ethical standards. I quit CNN—never to work for that network again.
  2. Leverage your skills. Although you should work on your weaknesses, improving and leveraging your strengths are even more important.  Two skills that have helped me immensely are the speed-reading skill and the ability to write my books and articles using dictation.
  3. Leverage technology.If you have a computer that is more than three years old, give it to a local charity and buy a brand new one.
  4. Leverage your intellect. Read one good book a month for two essential reasons. 1. Those who don’t read books bring little “intellectual capital” to the work place. 2. When you are interviewed for a job you really want and you are asked the question, “What good books have your read lately?” If your answer is, “I read any books lately” guess what job you are not going to get.
  5. Leverage your compassion. When people are hurting, show real concern,  listen intently and come up with a plan to assist.
  6. Leverage your creativityand the creativity of your colleagues and associates. Be willing to try new things and to challenge the rigidities of bureaucracies.
  7.  Leverage your time.In the 4thedition of the book, Rules and Tools for Leaders, there is a chapter on Managing the Electronic Workspace. There are many techniques and disciplines that can help you.  Also, get rid of the ”junk” in your life. Avoid spending too much time watching TV or being absorbed in social media.


To return to the Army officers at Fort Gordon. They are the “9/11 Generation”, having entered the military in the aftermath of the horrendous attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Their patriotism in both sincere and profound.


PLEASE NOTE: I will soon be publishing a series of articles on the Augusta Warrior Project (—tel 706 951-7506).  The Augusta Warrior Project (AWP) is widely recognized as the gold standard for integrated, multifaceted support for veterans. In growing numbers, leaders from cities around America are approaching the AWP for advice and help. At the moment its president, Kim Elle, has been tackling a number of tough personnel and transition issues as the Augusta Warrior Project fully settles into its new location (701 Greene Street). Happily, Kim and her dedicated staff stay focused on the mission—helping the veterans. She has developed warm relationships with many in our area including most of the key leaders. Please take the opportunity to thank her for her splendid work.



Major General Perry M Smith  USAF (ret.) serves on the boards of the Augusta Warrior Project and the Augusta Museum of History

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