Leadership in the Military with Chris Talcott

Chris Talcott

Military leadership is a topic we have not explored in depth on LearnChair Radio. To rectify this, LearnChair Radio host Bob Dragone interviews former Army Colonel Christopher Talcott. Chris was a field artillery officer who joined the Army in peacetime but found himself in combat as times quickly changed. Chris was deeply engaged in education as a teacher of military issues at West Point, UCLA and Baylor University. Chris’s comments on the current state of ROTC education are perceptive. When asked his views on military leadership, Chris responds that the first that comes to mind for him is being purposeful as a leader. What he terms Be, Know and Do. Chris adds to this two leadership definitions – the definition of leadership itself and of success. Chris recently began work with an organization called Boot Campaign. The organization began in 2009 by five Texas women who were concerned with the state of veteran affairs. Their goals are to ignite patriotism in America and promote life improvement programs for veterans. The organization is small but very engaged in support to veterans. Chris relates two stories of his military time that were lessons for him in leadership. Both involved bringing technical improvements to ongoing military operations. The main lesson he learned from the unit’s commander was that people are still more important than technology. The commander by his example taught Chris the values of clarity, focus, discipline and engagement. Above all he learned how to “make it work.” In response to Bob’s question about what are the characteristics of a good leader, Chris lists four. The first is servant leadership – in essence knowing that as a leader it’s not about you. Next is having a sense of humor. The final two are competitive greatness, doing what needs to be done when it counts, and listening and time management, i.e. not letting the tail wag the dog. Leadership is paramount for the military services, and this interview with Chris is a good insight as to how its done.

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