I’ve been rereading my favorite book on leadership, “The Art of the Leader” by General William Cohen.  I love his perspective on leadership because it’s clear and straightforward, no BS, no drama.  For me, one of his most important points is that you don’t have to be the official leader to lead.  At the right time and under the right circumstances, you can, and indeed should, lead your boss, your peers, or your customers.

Cohen presents eight universal laws of leadership:

  1. Maintain absolute integrity
  2. Know your stuff
  3. Declare your expectations
  4. Show uncommon commitment
  5. Expect positive results
  6. Take care of your people
  7. Put duty before self
  8. Get out in front.

This model, which Cohen calls the combat model, is values based.  For me, it boils down to this:  do what you believe in, believe in what you do and you will succeed.  It’s a sort of leadership variation of the Golden Rule.  This really works for me.

I highly recommend this book if you are at all interested in developing your leadership skills.  Cohen writes in a concise, direct and truly understandable way.  He illustrates many of his points with brief real life examples.  I was surprised to find all of his stories so relatable because I have no military background at all!