Leadership Lessons From General H Norman Schwarzkopf
H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr. as a child dreamed of a military career.His father, H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Sr., had attended West Point, “served in WWI” and later in WWII rising to the rank of brigadier general in the U.S. Army. At the end of WWII, General Schwarzkopf, Sr. was posted in Iran and remained to help “organize and train the national police force”. (achievement.org H Norman Schwarzkopf)
Developing Discipline and Character:
In 1946, Brigadier General Schwarzkopf, Sr.’s family joined him in Iran. Norman, Jr. was 12 years old and attended school in Iran, and later in Switzerland, Germany, and Italy. He became an outstanding student becoming fluent in French and German.
Developing Competence: Attending West Point:
Returning to the United States, like his father, Norman, Jr. attended the United States Military Academy at West Point. At West Point, along with his studies, he “played on the football team, wrestled, sang and conducted the chapel choir”. (achievement.org H Norman Schwarzkopf)
A Teacher’s Lesson Lasts A Lifetime:
While at West Point, Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr’s football team was taught by Assistant Coach Vince Lombardi his ’49’ “Lombardi Sweep”. This play would later become a staple in the Green Bay Packers dominance in the NFL under Lombardi’s leadership.
Lombardi Sweep: His ’49’:
Years later the eager, young Schwarzkopf was now General Schwarzkopf. He was 6’3″, and 240 pounds with a gruff and direct communication style, and he had a fearsome temper.
This temper and a hate for losing helped him lead his troops to victory during Operation Desert Storm in 1991. “He spoke French and German to coalition partners, showed awareness of Arab sensitivities and served as Gen. Colin Powell’s operative man on the ground.” (Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf-ABC News)
General Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr would remember and use his own version of the “49 Lombardi Sweep” during Operation Desert Storm in 1991. This football play from his younger years helped play a crucial part in the United States Coalition victory of Desert Storm.
Ron Kramer, a former Green Bay Packer, All-American football player under Coach Vince Lombardi “was watching the news about Operation Desert Storm when he noticed General Norman Schwarzkopf detailing an assault by his forces into Iraq, using arrows and diagrams to illustrate the maneuvers.”
Kramer had played tight end for Green Bay from 1957 to 1964, squinted at his television screen. “He remembered that play. He had seen those arrows before!” Kramer recalls shouting at the television screen.
“I wrote a letter to General Schwarzkopf. I sent ’49’ to him and told him he had plagiarized Vince. He was at Army when Vince was there.”
General Schwarzkopf wrote back to Ron Kramer that “he had played football at West Point” and shared “his memories of the famous coach.” Related: Lombardi Sweep
Schwarzkopf’s first assignment was “as executive officer of the 2nd Airborne Battle Group of the 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment at Fort Campbell, Kentucky”. Then he went to work “with the 101st Airborne, and with the 6th Infantry in West Germany.” In 1960 and 1961, “he was aide-de-camp to the Berlin Command.” It was a critical period “in the history of that divided city.” (achievement.org H Norman Schwarzkopf)
Earning Engineering Master’s:
Returning to the United States, Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr. earned his master’s at the University of Southern California in mechanical engineering.
Teaching Engineering at West Point:
Schwarzkopf returned to West Point in 1965 to teach engineering. Many of Norman’s classmates had gone to “Vietnam as advisors to the South Vietnamese army.” In 1965, Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr. applied to join them.
Captain Schwarzkopf, Jr. worked as an advisor to the South Vietnamese Airborne Division and was promoted to major.
Returned to Teaching at West Point:
Schwarzkopf after completing “his tour of duty in Vietnam” returned to teaching at West Point.
Lieutenant Colonel & Marriage:
Major Schwarzkopf was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1968 and married Brenda Holsinger. They later had three children.
At Leavenworth, Kansas, Schwarzkopf continued his training at “the Command and General Staff College”.
Colonel Schwarzkopf “as U.S. casualties in Vietnam mounted, became convinced it was his duty to apply his training and experience there, where they might save the most lives.” (achievement.org H Norman Schwarzkopf)
Returning to Vietnam in 1969:
Colonel Schwarzkopf returned as a battalion commander to Vietnam.
Doing the right thing ethically: Courage under fire: Vietnam:
During the Vietnam War on May 28, 1970, when General Schwarzkopf was a Lieutenant Colonel, he “ordered his helicopter down to rescue his troops who had wandered into a minefield.
Some were airlifted out, but he stayed behind with his troops. A soldier tripped a mine, shattering his leg and wounding the colonel, who crawled atop the thrashing victim to stop him from setting off more mines. Three other troopers were killed by an exploding mine, but the colonel led the survivors to safety.
Lieutenant Colonel Schwarzkopf was willing to risk his life for his men.” (Robert McFadden’s New York Times article)
Barbara Walters was interviewing General Norman Schwarzkopf and asked him to define leadership.
General Schwarzkopf said, “It’s competence, more importantly, it’s character. It’s taking action. It’s doing the right (ethical)thing.”
In the business world these are the same four qualities needed for success.
Barbara Walters asked General Schwarzkopf “What do you want on your tombstone?”
General Schwarzkopf said, “I want it to say, ‘He loved his family and he loved his troops-and they loved him.”
If you were asked, “What do you want on your tombstone? What would you say?
Zig Ziglar, motivational expert, says, “Compassion, love, and sympathy are very definitely part of the success formula. Having the ability to walk in the shoes of another is of paramount importance. When you truly know how the other person feels, you can communicate with him or her more easily and lead more effectively.” General Schwarzkopf knew this!
General H. Norman Schwarzkopf said, “There’s nothing wrong with being afraid. And true courage is not not being afraid. True courage is being afraid, and going ahead and doing your job anyhow, that’s what courage is.”
What are the five leadership qualities General Schwarzkopf identified, exemplified, and taught for success?
3) Taking Action,
4) Doing the right thing at all times (ethically) and having
By developing these five leadership qualities of General Norman Schwarzkopf you too will become an exemplary leader!