3 Military Books Every Leader Should Read

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Books, Throwback Thursday

wingman3Actually, I think there’s way more than three, but since everyone is busy, I’ve narrowed it down to a few.

1.  War As I Knew It, Gen George S. Patton, Jr.

The famous WWII general’s memoirs has loads of lessons in leadership, showing initiative, and strategic thinking. Very interesting reading that dispels a lot of myths about one of America’s most celebrated and successful 5-star generals, and delivers some nuggets about leading.

2.  This Kind Of War, T.R. Ferhenbach

A history of the Korean War written in narrative/story style that teaches about followership and first line leadership, with a healthy dose of valor for inspiration. It’s a gripping account of a war America was unprepared to fight told from a variety of perspectives from the individual soldier to the commanding general. Lessons in personal courage and strategy.

3. The Defense Of Hill 781, James R. McDonough

An allegory of modern combat that I made required reading when I was a squadron commander. Leadership lessons about leading a complex organization, taking over as a new leader, and overcoming obstacles to forge a team…with a helping of black humor as well.

Get Your Copy of The 5 Be’s Today!

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Announcements, Books, The Five Be's

I’m excited to announce my latest title now available in pocketbook from Lead The Way Media!

Logo Cover - FrontIn a world full of “no” and “don’t”, The 5 Be’s For Starting Out is a positive vision of who to “Be.” Based on a lifetime of mentoring young adults, The 5 Be’s is a roadmap to living a healthy, fulfilling, and successful life!

  • Be Proud Of Who You Are: Everyone has something to contribute — and so do you!
  • Be Free: Authentic freedom means having the ability to choose what’s good for you!
  • Be Virtuous: The virtues are the “guardrails” for success in life!
  • Be Balanced:  Keep your Mind, Body, and Spirit nourished to  keep your balance!
  • Be Courageous: Courage comes in many forms: physical and moral courage — find yours!

The 5 Be’s For Starting Out was a huge hit at a recent industry conference, and I’m proud to offer it as a pocketbook. It will also be available as an ebook soon! The 5 Be’s  makes a great stocking stuffer for the young adult in your life–or anyone looking to make a fresh start.

Click the button below to get your copy now!

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Rule #11: Check Your Moral Azimuth

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Mickeys Rules, The Five Be's

az·i·muth [az-uh-muhth] noun

1. Astronomy, Navigation . the arc of the horizon measured clockwise from the south point, in astronomy, or from the north point, in navigation, to the point where a vertical circle through a given heavenly body intersects the horizon.

2. Surveying, Gunnery. the angle of horizontal deviation, measured clockwise, of a bearing from a standard direction, as from north or south.

Origin: 1350–1400; Middle English azimut < Middle French ≪ Arabic as sumūt the ways (i.e., directions

It seems a constant to me that people who get themselves into trouble with their families, their workplace, or the law are usually caught living a hidden or double life. Whether it’s the website a husband doesn’t want his wife to know about or the businesswoman fudging on her company expense account, people hide what they know is illicit. We see it all the time in the news: politicians caught doing the very thing they campaigned against, military leaders violating their code of conduct, and seemingly average people living secrets that when exposed resulted in arrest and sometimes horrible crimes. The interesting thing is on the whole people knowwhen they’re doing something wrong. If we’re doing something that we wouldn’t want posted on the company bulletin board, its not likely healthy behavior. Or as my mother used to say, “it’s either illegal, immoral, or fattening.”

President Ronald Reagan once said that character doesn’t just “happen” at times of crisis, it’s constructed bit by bit by seemingly insignificant decisions. Our character is the compass on which we guide our decisions and our lives. When we have to make decisions, particularly those that involve morals, money, or the mission, we consult our character compass. I call it “checking your moral azimuth”

Of course a compass is of no value unless it points north. So it is with our internal compass. As I wrote in this post, to be useful a compass can’t be self referencing. For those of us in the military, that external orientation is our Core Values and our Oath. For others, the “North Star” is their religious beliefs or political philosophy, or perhaps their professional code of ethics like the ones for physicians or engineers. For companies large and small, that orientation should include personal ethics and the organizational mission. When leading a team, leaders must foster a shared vision and shared code of ethics, because no team can be successful when traveling in multiple directions at once. Not everyone has to pray or vote the same way, but everyone should buy into the same organizational values and goals.

On a personal level, living life with something hidden usually means eventual personal and professional disaster. It was true 30 years ago and in the internet age it’s even more true that secrets don’t stay secret for long. In other words, successful people live an integrated life free from hidden activities. They are the same person on Monday morning they were Saturday night. This sort of consistent approach is a recipe for excellence. Excellence is not only the standard of what we seek to achieve, it is the expectation of those we serve as leaders. We also have the right to expect mission success and high personal standards from each other.

Finally, we have to be on a good azimuth, the right “compass heading,” when making decisions about our jobs or our lives. Having the right direction is important for any person, but it’s crucial for leaders because people will follow us and do what we do. From making decisions on personal finances, to personal risk management, to the discipline to follow that same checklist for the umpteenth time, staying on the correct moral azimuth will ensure we make the right decision.

As much as we try to set a good example, no one can make decisions for another person. Each person must have a well developed enough sense of personal responsibility to make good decisions for himself. It’s the leader’s responsibility to set and maintain a culture of excellence and responsibility, but ultimately we make our own choices.

Whether its navigating the businesses landscape or making a low-level bomb run, checking your compass is an accepted part of our habit pattern. Its just as important to check our moral azimuth…and that’s a skill for success in life.


Mickey is a consultant, author, and keynote speaker. He believes everyone can reach high levels of performance if inspired and led. During his 30 year US Air Force career Mickey commanded thousands of Airmen, managed portfolios worth billions of dollars, and worked with military, civil, and industry officials around the world. He is a Distinguished Graduate of the Eisenhower School at National Defense University in Washington DC.
Mickey is the author of eight books, including Leading Leaders: Inspiring, Empowering, and Motivating TeamsMickey’s Rules for Leaders, and The Five Be’s: A Straightforward Guide to Life.

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3 Military Books Every Leader Should Read

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Books

Actually, I think there’s way more than three, but since everyone is busy, I’ve narrowed it down to a few.

1.  War As I Knew It, Gen George S. Patton, Jr.

The famous WWII general’s memoirs has loads of lessons in leadership, showing initiative, and strategic thinking. Very interesting reading that dispels a lot of myths about one of America’s most celebrated and successful 5-star generals, and delivers some nuggets about leading.

2.  This Kind Of War, T.R. Ferhenbach

A history of the Korean War written in narrative/story style that teaches about followership and first line leadership, with a heathy dose of valor for inspiration. It’s a gripping account of a war America was unprepared to fight told from a variety of perspectives from the individual soldier to the commanding general. Lessons in personal courage and strategy.

3. The Defense Of Hill 781, James R. McDonough

An allegory of modern combat that I made required reading when I was a squadron commander. Leadership lessons about leading a complex organization, taking over as a new leader, and overcoming obstacles to forge a team…with a helping of black humor as well.