Recently I rediscovered a blog written by General (Retired) Dennis Reimer. The title of his blog is Turning Challenges Into Opportunities. The link is provided below and is worth the read. I remembered reading the article a couple of years ago and recalling how much it had resonated with me at the time. Fast forward to this VUCA driven world of today and it resonates even stronger. General Reimer talks about time tested fundamentals of leadership. He begins by sharing the definition of leadership as it is defined in the Army Manual of Leadership (FM 22-100) which begins with “influencing people.”

While all of the fundamentals General Reimer reminds us of are equally important, I wanted to share my thoughts on a couple of his points. I share them as I have experienced their importance as a military leader and as a business leader:

  1. Every organization develops a mission and /or vision. It aligns everyone to the point on the map where they are trying to reach. Typically, the vision is developed at the executive leadership level of the organization along with the strategies to get there. At the point of impact are the tactical leaders. They execute the strategies through alignment of people, processes, and technologies. While all levels of leadership in an organization must be aligned and know where “that point” is on the map, the Operational (mid-level) Leaders are the translators and ambassadors interpreting the vision in a way for tactical leaders to better execute. They have an extremely critical role in the organization and the job is not easy. Take time to realize this and ensure you are investing and equipping these Operational Leaders with the necessary tools and development. Keep taking the pulse of those individuals as they are an indication of the organization’s health. But most of all, don’t forget to spend time listening to them!


  1. Taking time to listen to people is not an easy thing to do when we are all moving at a pace set to break Olympic records. Too many times, as leaders, we listen only to hear what the problems are and quickly move on to tell others how to solve the problems. But as General Reimer notes on the importance of feedback; “So many times you find people who have the solution but when asked why they haven’t told anybody, they say no one asked.” We must take a pause and listen more than we say. And I mean genuine listening! If you have routine one-on-one engagements with your team and your eyes are on your phone, you’re not listening. If you’re finishing the sentences for someone else, you’re not listening; and most likely you had the ending wrong in the first place. Lastly, don’t think you can fool others into thinking you are genuinely listening if you are preoccupied with your next meeting. Regardless of who or what level a person is in the organization, most people are perceptive enough to know you are not present. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with leaders that made me feel like the most important topic during the conversation was nothing else but me. I always try to emulate that when I listen to others and I certainly teach the importance of “listening” to leaders that I coach.

Take the time to read the short blog from General Reimer and I think you too will find nuggets of advice that will resonate with you just as they did with me!