I'm currently considering becoming an officer in the U.S. Army and so I figured now was as good a time as ever to gain a better understanding of good leadership.
What are some books you would recommend that have a thing to teach or two about leadership?
It is hard to really learn leadership form any book. This is a light, easy read and better presented than the military manuals that he stole most of the ideas from:
It should be easy to find this and the rest of the series in a local used book store. Despite being mediocre SF you might just find some of it useful. At least it isn't as self important and dry as most books on leadership.
These online books might also be useful. IF you are still under 19 you might want to consider joining the CAP cadet program since it about as focused on developing leadership for teens as you can get these days.
Also a good memorable book.
To paraphrase one of my favorites: "Even the worst Hun is valuable even if it is only as an example of what not to do."
The Last Stand Of Fox Company by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin is a great example of military leadership. I'd definitely recommend it if you're interested in becoming an officer.
FWIW, I was a NCO in the USMC. A few tips I can offer:
1- Your troops ALWAYS come first. You don't eat until they eat. You don't sleep until they sleep. Etc, Etc.
2- Get to know your troops. If you don't know the names and jobs of all your troops- you suck. Obviously, if you ever reach a billet above the company level, this would be impossible. But try anyway. Troops don't respect men that don't give a fuck about them. They might respect your rank, but to be an effective leader, its better if they respect YOU. Try to do little things like visiting a troop that just had a baby, or is in the hospital after a surgery. A 10 minute visit will give you the reputation that you give a shit. Trust me, many officers don't bother. Many feel the troop wouldn't appreciate it. But believe me, they do.
3- Be a mentor. If a troop is having a problem. OFFER (not impose) your services. And only do so after consulting the troops NCOs. If a troop is having trouble maintaining weight/fitness standards (for example)- talk to the man and ask what YOU can do to help. Assist with a plan of action, remove any hurdles, and for god's sake....follow up regularly. When you see the guy in the hall, ask him how things are going.
4- And that leads me to........don't shit on your NCOs. Especially not in front of the troops. Many NCOs have been in the 'biz" for a long time. Many will have extensive trigger time in AFG/IRQ. Don't try to act like you know more than them. It'll just make you look stupid. These guys are there to help you. Accept their help, and don't micro-manage. If you join, you'll figure out where the line is between helping and being a pain in the ass.
Sun Tzu's Art of War is worth a read. Its an overview of tactics, strategy, AND leadership.
And thumb through the Army or USMC NCO/Officer handbooks.
Either pub can be found for free online.
Good luck. I was in the USMC from 1997-2003. It was a wonderful experience that I wouldn't trade for anything. It made me a better man, leader, and steward of my country. And on top of that, the GI Bill paid for my degree and the VA home loan has made my life a bit easier too. I truly hope my three sons enlist and/or pursue a commission one day.
"The Mission, the Men, and Me: Lessons from a former Delta Force Commander" -- Pete Blaber
I was always an admirer of Gen. Patton. So try to find the book written by his son about his management principles. I don't remember the title, but it was edited from his own words, papers, etc. I think it should be required reading for all men, not just military.
Now, it's a different branch entirely, but "It's Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy" was a hugely popular book yet was written for universal applicability. I also loved the Master and Commander film which shows some examples of poor and exemplary leadership among the officers. Good: has self confidence and generates respect, listens to the concerns of the enlisted, and heeds the wisdom of the veterans. Worst: Tries to make friends with the lower ranks, has no spine, or comes out of the academy with the attitude of knowing everything and risks men's lives over stupidity or pride. Such an officer will find that no one will have his back.