Dunford Gives Middies a Lesson in Leadership

By Jim Garamone,
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

U.S. Marine Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, answers questions from naval midshipmen after a meeting about global security challenges at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, March 29, 2016. DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro

U.S. Marine Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, answers questions from naval midshipmen after a meeting about global security challenges at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, March 29, 2016. DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro

A group of U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen got an unexpected lesson in leadership from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff this week.

About 25 midshipmen came to the Center for Strategic and International Studies to listen to Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford speak to the topic of “Today’s Global Challenges.”

They got that, but during the question-and-answer session, a senior CSIS official asked the chairman if he had any leadership lessons for the midshipmen.

Here’s his response:

U.S. Marine Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, addresses a group at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, March 29, 2016, to discuss global security challenges. Dunford also fielded questions from the people in attendance, many of whom were naval midshipmen. DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro

U.S. Marine Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, addresses a group at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, March 29, 2016, to discuss global security challenges. Dunford also fielded questions from the people in attendance, many of whom were naval midshipmen. DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro

“With regard to leadership, with the midshipmen over here, you know, it’s clearly something that you can’t wrap up in 30 seconds. But I guess what I would say to you is as you make the transition – and I think a number of you are making it this year – I think you probably have been told many times, and I’ll just remind you – it’s no longer about you.

“You know, to this point, someone cared about your grade point average. Someone cared about your level of physical fitness. Someone cared about your personal appearance. Someone cared about your accomplishments, your achievements.

“The day you become commissioned, that’s all in the sticker price of being a leader. Nobody cares. You get no credit anymore for any of those things.

“What you get credit for is the impact that you have on the young men and women that you’ll be so fortunate enough to lead. That’s actually what you get credit for.”

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