Exceptional Leaders: David Petraeus’s Four Big Rules of Leadership

Anytime a general has successfully led military efforts in both Iraq and Afghanistan, you sit up and take notice when they speak about leadership.  I’m reading Paula Broadwell’s new All In: The Education of General David Petraeus (Penguin, 2012) and am really enjoying it.  Petraeus is a pretty unusual human being and leader.

Paraphrasing Broadwell, here’s how Petraeus sees his four major responsibilities as a leader (13):

1. Get the big ideas right

2. Effectively communicate the big ideas 

3. Oversee the implementation of the big ideas

4. Refine the big ideas through analysis and feedback

Petraeus’s counter-insurgency tactics have been debated by military theorists, and I’m sure they will be in the future.  Whatever you think about all of the aspects of Petraeus’s work–and I personally impressed by him–I would go out on a limb and say that these four principles are profitable for Christian leaders to think about.  In other words, this is a very good grid for leadership, I think.  Not just military leadership–any form.

Pastor/executive/leader: get the gospel and the Word right, studying to know these things well.  Then get out there and communicate well.  Then help others to implement the vision, involving motivation, encouragement, correction, and more.  As you do so, constantly listen so that you can carry out the whole mission–the promotion of Christ in a fallen world–well.

I think you could spend the rest of your life carrying out those four responsibilities and make a major contribution to the greatest warfare mission ever conceived: the subversion and eventual destruction of the kingdom of darkness by the kingdom of light.

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