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Vol. 6 No. 11
(626) 350-1500 Ext 102  


Extraordinary achievements demand extraordinary leaders.

© 2008 William A. Cohen, PhD


This month’s free downloadable book is Manpower by Lincoln C. Andrews. Andrews graduated from West Point in 1893 and was in combat in the Philippines and later served as a division commander during World War I.  He retired as a brigadier general, but served in government as the Assistant Secretary of the Treasury. His activities were such that he became sufficiently prominent to make the cover of Time Magazine in 1925. Manpower was unique. It was one of the first books to analyze military leadership and apply its principles to civilian endeavors. To download this book at no charge through the courtesy of Google, click HERE.

Recent Articles by Dr. Cohen published by others:

What to Do about the Crisis from

Drucker: Every Leader Must Declare his Expectations from

Peter Drucker of the Value of Ignorance from Performance and Profits

Peter Drucker’s Story of Two Vice Presidents (Why What Everybody Knows Is Frequently Wrong) from Moving Ahead

Webcast: The Lost Lessons of Peter Drucker from The American Management Association

Five Things William Cohen Has Learned From Peter Drucker from CIO Magazine

How the World’s Most Celebrated Management Consultant Got His Title from Industry Week

The Night Peter Drucker Declared He Was Not My Father from

Drucker’s Lost Lesson from Training Magazine

Effective Leadership in Leadership Excellence


by ã William A. Cohen, PhD 2008

When I was a young lieutenant learning to be a navigator and bombardier on B-52 aircraft, I had the good fortune to be assigned to a crew on which Lieutenant Colonel John Porter served as the senior navigator. John Porter had been the “squadron navigator.” That is, the senior navigator in the squadron. Than the establishment announced a new policy. Staff officers like John were to serve on crews in addition to their staff assignments. Someone warned me that with Colonel Porter on my crew, I would have to attend the “Porter School of Navigation.” This I understood would be neither voluntary nor easy. Until he was satisfied that you were a straight-shooter, John stood for absolutely no-nonsense. He expected young lieutenant-navigators to absolutely know their stuff. Since it was a forgone conclusion that lieutenants did not know everything they should, John was ready, willing, and able to teach. The next six months of my flying career were far from easy. John demanded and got my full attention both in the air and on the ground. He insisted that I know everything about navigation and B-52s. If I fluffed off, I was instantly corrected. However, when I did my homework, worked hard, but still screwed up, John was patient. He went over things for me and showed me where I had gone wrong. He showed me techniques that increased my ability to operate quickly under the dual demands of time and accuracy. Ultimately I understood what was meant by the “Porter School of Navigation.” It was a term of respect. Thanks to John’s training and coaching, I developed into a passable navigator. His coaching built a team of navigators in the squadron who not only knew their stuff, but were motivated to do their best. Had we had to go to war during the Cuban missile crisis, much of our ability to carry out our mission successfully would have been due to this one Lieutenant Colonel. His setting the example for me of how to coach led to my becoming an instructor, and latter a combat instructor and the squadron training officer in attack aircraft in combat in Vietnam. Some of the teaching techniques I use today when speaking or giving seminars around the world came from John Porter. So thanks, John. I think your coaching in the Porter School of Navigation paid off.[1]


A Leader Must Be A Coach And Teacher

There is no question that as a leader you have responsibilities to teach. I mentioned the importance of this concept in earlier chapters. As Major General Perry M. Smith former Commandant at National War College says, “Teachership and leadership go hand-in-glove. The leader must be willing to teach skills, to share insights, and experiences, and to work very closely with people to help them mature and be creative….By teaching, leaders can inspire, motivate, and influence subordinates at various levels.”[2]


Coaching Must Be A Way Of Life

Do you see the “Kung Fu” series on television starring David Caradine? The technical advisor on the series, and also Caradine’s double for many of the fight scenes was a gentleman born in Hong Kong. His name is Kam Yuan. Kam is an engineer as well as a Doctor of Chiropractry. But he is best known for his Kung Fu skills. Kam and I became friends when I had occasion to do some business consulting for his “Kwoon”. A “Kwoon” is a Kung Fu gymnasium. I was most impressed by his sincerity and attitude toward his fellow man. Kam is a person who is always willing to give of himself to help others. And he gave of himself even while he ran several businesses, appeared in the Kung Fu television series, made a movie, and instructed in his Kwoon. At the time I was interested in and worked out in another of the martial arts: karate. How, I asked Kam, was he able to maintain his very high standard of Kung Fu, at the same time that he had so many other interests? “Kung Fu,” Kam answered, “is not just a martial art, it is a way of life. I practice it continuously.”

If you want to coach a winning team, coaching can’t be a one time, or periodic activity, either. As Professor of Management Burt K. Scanlon says, “Effective coaching is a day-to-day, not a once-a-year activity. The more time that managers spend in a supportive role with subordinates, rather than doing the work or telling them how to do it, the better the results will be.”[3] So if you want to coach a winning team, the first thing you must do is make coaching your way of life. This means that you should look for opportunities to help those that follow you improve. The greater the improvement among your group’s members, the better they will perform their organizational tasks. The better they perform their tasks, the better the organization you will have.


What To Do To Become A Good Coach

If you want to become a good coach, it’s not difficult. There are five things that you must do.

  • Be Accessible
  • Counsel
  • Give Recognition
  • Reprimand
  • Discipline


Why You Must Be Accessible

It is a mistake to build a wall between yourself and those you lead. This does not mean that you must become “one of the boys” to the extent that you become overly familiar with them. What it means is that you are completely open with everyone. If there is a problem, or something to be said, you want it to get said. A wall will prevent all but good news from getting through. That can hurt your leadership and your organization quite a bit.

When I was the director of research and development activities for a company, we were trying to develop a set of earcups for flight helmets which would increase the pilot’s ear protection. We’d been working for months without success. Finally, we had what appeared to be a breakthrough. The protective results as measured by an acoustical laboratory indicated success. I waited impatiently for my project engineer to approve a general design of the concept. Instead, he looked at the results and said that something didn’t look right. He wanted the tests repeated.

I adamantly refused. “After all these months we are finally successful and you want to repeat the tests? No way!”

“Boss, it will cost very little and will mean only one weeks delay.”

“We don’t need any delay,” I countered. “It works now.”

“I’m not sure of that,” he said.

“Well, I’m sure. Sign the approval.”

Fortunately, I had no walls with any of my people. They knew that I expected them to argue their causes as long as they believed in them and until I made a decision. But hadn’t I just made my decision? My engineer looked me in the eye and said, “Boss, if that’s the way you want it, I’ll sign off. But before I do I want you to remember that if I’m wrong, the cost is very little. However, if I’m right and these tests are wrong, we’ll save a bundle. With that in mind and before you make your final decision, I want you to know that if we don’t repeat these tests I must state emphatically that you’re full of bananas.” However, he didn’t use the word “bananas.”

His statement caused me to rethink the problem. He was right. I was too eager to press on after so much previous time invested in trying to solve the problem. Since there was doubt, it made sense to take the time to check it out. We did and my project engineer was right. The tests were incorrect for several critical frequencies. We had actually solved the overall problem, and this minor problem was easy to correct. I shudder to think what would have happened had I been the kind of leader who insisted on instant obedience in every situation. We would have wasted forty thousand dollars or more in tooling costs, and some time before the error would have been discovered.

Probably more than half of the screw-ups made in any situation that ultimately cause a major problem are actually spotted by someone in the organization. Either this individual was afraid to go to the responsible leader, couldn’t get to the responsible leader, or the responsible leader wouldn’t listen. The Watergate and Contra affairs as well as the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster all fall into this category.

This doesn’t mean that you must always take the advice offered, or that there aren’t situations where there is no time for discussion. It does mean that your subordinates shouldn’t be afraid to make their feelings known in the strongest terms possible. It also means that there should be a clear channel to insure the you receive this message. Part of this has to do with your manner of dealing with those who report to you. If you accept no difference of opinion, you’ll get none.  What do you think will happen if only those who agree with you get promoted? Let me tell you that it won’t be long before everyone agrees with you. Some of your best people will have long since left your organization.

You must also frequently check on the procedures in force to allow people to see you. You will find that your staff will tend to protect you from those they consider to be timewasters or who would upset you. If you make an unthinking comment that you don’t want to see any more timewasters, you won’t. The problem is, it will be your staff’s decision as to who is, and who is not, a timewaster.


Counsel Those Who Follow

Counseling means a one on one meeting. During this meeting, you can go over what your subordinate has done, good and bad, since the last counseling session. You can also discover what is bothering and what is pleasing the person you are counseling. Sometimes you can find out quite a bit in this way. Along with seeing and being seen, you can keep touch with the health of your organization this way. There are two important aspects to counseling which you should not ignore. The first is when to do it. The second is what to do in a counseling session.


When Should You Counsel?

Many organizations require that their managers counsel all employees periodically, usually once a year. A periodic counseling is fine. Both you and the individual being counseled knows that it is coming and can prepare for it. For followers or leaders that are reticent about meeting, a periodic counseling insures that a meeting will take place. However, periodic counseling, while good, is insufficient. In one of my early leadership experiences in industry, I hired an older man who was far more experienced than me. In many ways, he did a good job. However, one thing that he did drove me up a wall. When I assigned a task, I could not depend on him to complete it on my deadline without several reminders. Of course I reprimanded him. It did no good. He performed well in other ways. He did what I asked. He was not disrespectful. But I had to dun him to get him to complete a project when I wanted it. He could not be depended on to do a job on his own without this nudging. I hadn’t the time to let him alone to “learn a lesson” from missing a deadline. I intended to have a special counseling session with him about this problem, but it seemed that I was always too busy. I knew that after six months his initial salary review with a full counseling session would require me to speak to him in depth. Maybe the fact that he was much older and more experienced than me had something to do with it. Than one day the date for his salary review arrived. Now I had a problem. He was doing a good job. But to give him a salary increase when he still wasn’t completing projects without reminders meant that I accepted the situation as it existed. I decided that due to this problem, I could not recommend a raise. However, what I would do was to recommend a supplemental review after an additional ninety days.

At the counseling session, I asked if I had been assigning too much work for him to do. He said that I had not. I explained why he would not be getting a raise and about the supplemental review. I suggested some methods that he might use to insure finishing a project without my reminders. He was surprised. He said that he expected me to remind him continually. According to him, this was the procedure in his former company. Whether his explanation was completely accurate or not is besides the point. What is relevant is that this employee effortlessly turned the situation around. After our counseling session, I could depend on his getting his work done on time, every time without me saying anything. He had no difficulty earning a raise at the supplemental review. In fact, I made his raise retroactive to the time of his initial review. I had no difficulties at all with him afterwards. Here was a case in which I allowed the situation to fester unnecessarily for six months. I vowed that I would never let it happen again, and it never has.


When To Call A Special Counseling Session

In addition to a special counseling session called for by someone who works for you, you should call for a special counseling session whenever:

  • Performance is lacking in some way.
  • You want to get an opinion about something.
  • You think you can help.
  • You want to review a past action or project as a learning experience.
  • You want to offer advise about the future.
  • There is evidence of a problem of some sort.
  • Any other reason you may have for communicating with someone you work for privately.


How Should You Structure A Counseling Session?

Some leaders think that they can easily ad-lib a counseling session. This is a mistake. Depending on its purpose, you should clearly lay out what you want to discuss, and what questions you want to ask before the session. Of course, you should be ready to answer all questions in a straightforward manner. In addition, don’t be afraid to ask questions yourself. Mayor Koch of New York City went everywhere asking, “How am I doing?” He didn’t always get a positive answer. But every answer provided him with important information about what he and his administration were doing right and wrong in running New York.


Questions You Should Ask During Counseling

Major General Perry recommends that a leader ask these questions during counseling:

  • What aspects of this organization do you like the most?
  • What areas around here bother you the most?
  • What are your ideas for improving this organization?
  • What policies, procedures, tactics, subordinate organizations, systems, etc. should we divest ourselves of and on what kind of a schedule (now, next year, five years from now, etc.)?
  • In your judgment, who are the most innovative, helpful and cooperative people in this organization?
  • What are your personal goals while you are in this organization?
  • Where and to what job would you like to go next; why and when?
  • What do you consider to be your most significant weaknesses?
  • What self improvement programs do you have underway?
  • What do you think your chances are for promotion to the next level, and in what time frame?
  • What bothers you the most about my decisions and my leadership style?
  • What three things cause you to waste your time the most?
  • What are the goals that you have established for your organization?
  • Please evaluate the performance of the organization, unit, or group that you led over the past six months. Please outline the high and low points of the period.[4]


General Perry’s list of questions may or may not be applicable to your organization. So you should not use his list, or any list of questions for counseling automatically without thinking through the peculiarities of your organization. One successful leader I know follows the same counseling procedure every time he takes over a new organization. He asks, “What is it exactly that you do? What are your problems? How can I help you? What can I do to make your job easier?”


Why Counseling Sessions Are Important

Counseling sessions provide excellent opportunities for subordinates to talk to you off the record, yet in a meaningful way. Done right, you can find out quite a lot about people that you did not previously know. The biblical quotation, “Ask and you shall receive,” is pretty good advice when it comes to counseling. Your subordinates can talk to you about things that bother them, and you can put rumor and gossip to rest. It is a good opportunity for you and your followers to set goals and work toward performance. Take advantage of this aspect of leadership. Coach your team by good counseling.


Give Recognition

Never fail any opportunity to recognize good performance by someone in your organization. For one thing, it is the right thing to do. When someone does something right, they have earned your praise. Don’t you believe that you should be recognized when you do a good job? Don’t you feel that you have earned the recognition of others under these circumstances? Let me assure you that everyone else feels the same way. It is a tenant of human nature. In fact, recognition is one of the most powerful of human motivators.

During World War II, an Army Air Force group commander found that he had as many losses due to accidents and poor maintenance as due to the enemy.  When other techniques failed, he established a system of awards for success in maintenance. The awards in themselves were insignificant. There certificates of merit, scarce items from the Post Exchange, and 48-hour passes. He gave these awards for the fewest number of aircraft aborting take-off due to maintenance, the fewest mechanical failures of equipment on missions, and the most number of days aircraft were available for combat. This leader used every technique he could think of to give the widest praise and publicity to winners. He held special award ceremonies. He had pictures taken and sent to hometown newspapers. He wrote special letters of commendation and favorable communication. The awards may not have been very significant. But the recognition and local fame that accompanied them were considered pretty important. So much so, that you would have thought that each award was worth no less than a million dollars. This group commander soon had an outstanding maintenance record.[5] As an old Air Force manual on leadership said, “Make allies of human nature’s tendencies. Don’t “buck” them as enemies. This desire for success and recognition is one of your most valuable assets in leading.”[6]

Major General “Red” Newman, U.S. Army, retired, author of two books on leadership and generalship says, “In command and leadership many qualities, attributes and techniques are required – including drive, force, judgment, perception and others. But nothing can replace the inspiration and lift that comes from commending a job well done.”[7]


The Pink Cadillac Lady On Recognition

Mary Kay Ash, that fabulous woman who build a billion dollar a year cosmetics company using outstanding leadership techniques says, “Because we recognize the need for people to be praised, we make a concentrated effort to give as much recognition as possible.”[8]And so she did. Yes, Mary Kay gave away pink Cadillacs, expensive fur coats, diamond jewelry, and many, many other tangible awards for top sales. But she did more. Mary Kay gave out ribbons worth pennies, got people on stage during meetings to receive applause, sent out hand written notes of commendation, published three separate magazines (two monthly, one weekly) to recognize superior performers, and personally recognized and encouraged her people whenever and wherever she could.  Mary Kay felt that one of the strongest forms of recognition cost nothing at all. It is simply praise. Mary Kay believed that your praise would help any group to achieve success.  She called this principle “praising people to success.” Mary Kay knew that people respond to praise and recognition as to nothing else. And so at every sign of success, even a small one, she heaped on the praise. “I believe that you should praise people whenever you can; it causes them to respond as a thirsty plant responds to water.”[9] Of course, the praise must be deserved. When it is you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that her concept is psychologically very sound and you shouldn’t wonder that during her lifetime she built such a successful company, nor that she was known by all as a top notch leader.

Give Recognition As Soon As Possible

Yes, psychologists tell us that the concept of recognition is on target. But they also tell us something else. Famed behaviorist B.F. Skinner maintained that to get the maximum motivational mileage, you should praise as soon as possible after the praiseworthy behavior occurs.[10] Unfortunately, even the military sometimes fails to do this, and I consider it almost criminal regarding doing what’s right and for effective leadership. I remember in combat that occasionally someone would do something worthy, and a couple days later the medal would be awarded.  I’ve told the story previously, so I won’t tell it again, but General MacArthur once actually awarded a high medal for heroism on the battlefield before the act was performed. Of course, that’s not the norm. But the thought behind it is. Give deserved recognition with as little time delay as possible.

However all too frequently, it’s another story. The problem is it becomes very bureaucratic, and too many people get involved with “protecting the integrity of the award.” What this really means is that by their thinking, no act is really good enough. So they bounce the recommendation back for lack of a comma, or something equally trivial. Eventually the fellow who made the recommendation moves on to another assignment, or maybe just gets frustrated after the paperwork gets bounced three or four times and gives up. As I said, I consider this criminal! I’ve personally been involved in helping people get awards that were earned several years previously. And you have probably read of instances where people are just now getting medals earned during World War II more than fifty years ago. Better late than never, but tardy awards always have some kind of negative impact. As a leader, making sure people get the medals they earn expeditiously is one of your major responsibilities.


General Grant Shows Us The Way

During our Civil War, we only had one medal, The Medal of Honor. But senior generals were also allowed to give officers under their command promotion to brevet rank for extraordinary accomplishments. This meant a new title and the wearing of the higher rank insignia, but no increase in responsibilities or pay as was normally the case with promotion. It was an honor like a medal. In May of 1864, Grant battled Confederate forces at Spotsylvania with little luck.Then Colonel Emory Upton led an assault that nearly succeeded by overrunning Confederate defenses at what was called “the bloody angle.” Grant wasted no time in bestowing instant recognition. “I had been authorized to promote officers on the field for special acts of gallantry. By this authority I conferred the rank of brigadier-general upon Upton on the spot.”[11]



General Custer’s Solution (And Mine)

Everything you thought you knew about General George A. Custer of Little Big fame probably isn’t true. I won’t go into all the details here. It will have to be the subject of another article.  Let me just tell you a little. Custer was one of our first combat aviators as a balloon observer in 1862. He became a brigadier general only two years after graduation from West Point. He was the only Union general to beat the famed Confederate cavalry General Jeb Stuart. first at Gettysburg, and later again at Yellow Tavern, where Stuart was killed. He became the youngest major general while still in his twenties and was considered the best cavalry general of the war. He never lost a battle either in the Civil War or in the Indian Wars until Little Big Horn. And his opinion of Indians? He said if he were an Indian, he’d fight against the White Man, too. As that great management thinker Peter Drucker  repeated so often, “What ‘everyone knows is frequently wrong.”

Now why do I bring up Custer. Because Custer also got frustrated at the approval rate of medals his men earned. His solution? He established his own medal that he awarded, and of which those who earned them were fiercely proud. Coming up against similar problems in 1993, as a General in the Air Force Reserve, I read about Custer’s solution. It was, of course, contrary to regulations. But, it was effective. So I did the same thing. I established the “Medal of Merit.” It was big and impressive and was worn around the neck with a red, white, and blue ribbon. It also came with a wall plaque describing the reason for the award. I awarded it at a ceremony complete with pomp and photographer, just as for official decorations. My comments during the ceremony included the fact that the award was unauthorized, and that therefore could not be worn as part of the uniform. Moreover, I added, if it were worn during a “Dining Out,” the offending individual would be sent to the “grog bowl.” “Dining Outs” are official full dress dinners during which there is a considerable amount of wildness and slack given to regulations. Those committing violations of Air Force Regulations, real or imagined, at a Dining Out, are usually punished by having to drink from the “grog bowl.” In the old days, the grog bowl had awful mixtures of alcoholic drinks.  However, as the Air Force has retreated more and more from its hard-drinking image, the grog bowls have become filled with the wrong combinations of beverages that are non-alcoholic. Of course, all recipients did proudly wear their unauthorized medals at our Dining Outs.

I feel I must render a word of caution to leaders both in and out of uniform here. When you order something contrary to regulations like the “Custer Medal,” you’ve got to accept responsibility for your actions. I decided that it was the right thing to do, so I did it. But, I knew I was violating regulations, and was fully prepared to accept my punishment, if that was the result.


Yes, recognition can be one of your most important coaching techniques. Even the Emperor Napoleon was shocked at the sheer power of recognition as a motivator. After being told that his soldiers would commit almost any act of bravery for one of the emperor’s medals he exclaimed, “It is amazing what men will do for such baubles.”


Reprimand When Necessary

A leader cannot always be a “good guy.” Sometimes you must reprimand and discipline. If you fail to do so, the offense, whatever it is, will likely be repeated. In additional you will send a message throughout your entire organization that you do not care, that any performance or conduct is acceptable. And of course, if you do not care, you cannot expect others who would follow you to care. General Patton advised immediate reprimand for every mistake. And when one of his men made a mistake, he let that man know it, instantly. Said General Patton, “I cannot kill a man in our combat training, but I can make every man wish to be dead rather than take the wrath of my anger.!”[12] It is interesting to note that Patton’s advice is fully in tune with more modern thinking about reprimands. Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson gave the following advice in their best selling book, The One Minute Manager: “Reprimand people immediately. Tell people what they did wrong – be specific. Tell people how you feel about what they did wrong – and in no uncertain terms.”[13]

When You Must Reprimand, Do So At Once

Remember that a reprimand is criticism. So, as pointed out in an earlier chapter, you should reprimand in private. Sometimes your interview with intent to reprimand brings out causes that justify the actions taken by your subordinate. Then there is no need to reprimand at all, and you will know it immediately. Since you have had the reprimand interview in private, you will embarrass neither yourself nor anyone else. If you are angry, tell the individual you are reprimanding that you are angry and why. It’s okay to be angry. It is not okay to lose your self-control, however. A loss of control means loss of focus on your main objective in performing the reprimand. When you reprimand, be certain to keep your mind focused on what you are trying to achieve. You do not want to leave him or her hurt, resentful, or frightened. What you do want is for the individual to have the desire to improve on his or her own. Mary Kay had a technique which called sandwiching. She sandwiched her criticism between two compliments. Another way is to follow Blanchard and Johnsons’ recommendations:

“Shake hands, or touch them in a way that lets them know you are honestly on their side. Remind them how much you value them. Reaffirm that you think well of them but not of their performance in this situation. Realize that when the reprimand is over, it’s over.”[14]


Administering Discipline

Occasionally, the offense is more serious. You must administer some form of discipline. When you must administer discipline, do it. Don’t delay. The longer you delay, the more difficult it will be for you and for the person who must be punished. In addition, a delay can increase the chances of the disciplining action being perceived as unfair. Always take some form of corrective action when discipline is needed. If you are disciplining partially as a future deterrent, it is the certainty of the punishment which constitutes the main deterrent component, not the severity of it. In 17th century England, the punishment for highway robbery was death. Today, the punishment for the same crime is several years imprisonment. However, there are proportionately far less highway robberies. One reason is that the likelihood of being caught and punished is far more certain today.[15] In the United States, the incidence of robberies in general is proportionately far higher. There may be many reasons for this. However, it is not because the punishment has been reduced. The penalty for robbery was never death in the United States. One reason for the proportionately higher number of robberies in the United States today is because the likelihood of being caught and punished is less likely than it was once. You don’t want to administer discipline so much as to  achieve and maintain it.

The Latin root of “to discipline” is “to teach.” The level of discipline is, as with the level of teaching, what you as a leader make of it. If you want the members of your group to respect their leaders, to respect themselves, and to always seek to perform to the highest standards, they must be taught to do so. This cannot be done instantaneously. You cannot be lax in enforcing performance and than suddenly come on like Attila the Hun. George Washington said, “To bring men to a proper degree of subordination is not the work of a day, a month, or a year.”[16] George Washington knew that to achieve high standards of discipline is a rough, tough, job that takes time to accomplish. What he did not say is that once discipline has been allowed to decay, it is ten times as hard for the old leader to rebuild it. This is why leaders that have failed to maintain high standards of discipline are frequently relieved of command in the military, or fired from their civilian positions. It takes a new leader to turn the organization around. A new leader can be a strong disciplinarian and rebuild the organization. The old leader frequently cannot do this.


What Can You Do If Discipline Isn’t What It Should Be?

If discipline in your organization has been allowed to wane, what can you do? First, you can set the example for high standards. You can never expect those that follow you to maintain a high standard of discipline if you fail to do this yourself. Next, pick one area. Focus on that one area alone. Let’s say that your company has a policy that lunch breaks are limited to one hour. Over the years, this policy has become pretty sloppy.  Not only are lunch breaks more than one hour, but most are in the neighborhood of one to two hours. If you are a new leader you can make many changes simultaneously. If you are not, you can’t. So you’re going to work this one problem first.  List all of the reasons why the current action is unacceptable. Its cheating the company. Its unprofessional. Customers who can’t get hold of you when they want aren’t serviced properly. It gives the organization a poor image. It sets a poor example for hourly employees or younger managers, and so on. Decide on the punishment for failing to adhere to the company’s rules. This can be docking of pay, working extra hours, right on up to firing. this is up to you. Just make sure that the punishment is fair and reasonable. Think through the whole situation. Are there any circumstances which will justify a longer lunch? How will this be handled? Are you being completely reasonable considering everything?

When you’re fully prepared, call your group together and tell them the problem and the solution. Be ready to answer any questions. When you know what you are talking about, your group will realize that you are right and be willing to support you. In fact, you’ll probably find that those who have stayed within the rules are very happy about your new policy. They may have felt cheated for years because they pulled more than their share of the load due to others taking extended lunches. Once you have this problem under control, move on to the next one. You’ll be walking a fine line. Naturally, you want to turn things around as soon as you can. And you should. On the other hand, if you try to move too quickly after you yourself have been too permissive, you’ll cause considerable resentment. This resentment will actually slow your progress and may cause other problems.

But you can do things to start moving things in the right direction no matter what changes must be made. When Thomas H. Wyman took over the Green Giant Company, a company with annual sales of more than $ 425 million, he found the culture too relaxed. How do you administer discipline to a culture?  According to President Wyman, “It’s not very complicated. If you call a couple of meetings at 4 o’clock (which will obviously last for an hour or two), that begins to communicate a message. Or you leave a note on someone’s desk at 5 o’clock saying you’re sorry they couldn’t meet with you. You follow up the next day on requests for information. You suggest close-in deadlines. You answer your own mail very promptly.”[17]


Six Ways To Coach Your Winning Team

1.   Make coaching a way of life. Do it day in and day out.

2.   Insure that you are accessible to those you lead.

3.   Counsel those you lead periodically and when they need it.

4.   Never let an opportunity to recognize someone for good performance go by without taking it.

5.   Reprimand whenever you have to.

6.   Maintain high standards of discipline.


Finally, for maximum effectiveness give recognition, reprimand, and discipline as soon as you determine one of these actions should be taken.


[1]When I wrote these lines in 1989, I had no idea where John Porter was, or even whether he was alive. However, back in 1992, when I was promoted to Brigadier General, I got a call. It was John Porter, and I was able to thank John in person for his ministrations as a leader to a young lieutenant so many tears ago.

[2]Perry M. Smith, Taking Charge (National Defense University Press: Washington, D.C., 1986) p. 4.

[3]Burt K. Scanlon, “Managerial Leadership in Perspective: Getting Back to Basics,” in A. Dale Timpe, ed. Leadership (Facts on File Publications: New York, 1988) p. 25.

[4]Ibid. pp.39-43.

[5]AFM 35-15 Air Force Leadership (Department of the Air Force: Washington, D.C., 1948) p. 23.


[7]Aubrey Newman, Follow Me (Presidio Press: Presidio, California, 1981) pp.176-177.

[8]Mary Kay Ash, Mary Kay on People Management (Warner Books: New York, 1984) p.25.

 [9]Ibid. p.23.

 [10]William F. Dowling and Leonard Sayles, How Managers Motivate, 2nd Ed. (McGraw-Hill: New York, 1971,1978) p.18.

[11] Ulysses S. grant, quoted in Al Kaltman, LeaderLessons from General Ulysses S. Grant (Paramus, New Jersey: Prentice Hall Press, 1998) p. 157.


[12]Porter B. Williamson, Patton’s Principles (Simon and Schuster: New York, 1979) p. 35.

[13]Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson, The One Minute Manager (William Morrow and Company: New York, 1982) p. 59.


[15]AFM 35-15 Air Force Leadership, op. cit. p. 38.

[16]The Armed Forces Officer (Department of Defense: Washington, D.C., 1975) p. 123.

[17]Chester Burger, The Chief Executive (CBI Publishing Company, Inc.: Boston, 1978) p. 88.



1. The Stuff of Heroes: Leading with Integrity and Honor

The eight universal laws are strategic. From them come hundreds of tactics and techniques that leaders must use in all fields including the eight essential influence tactics.. 

Combat leadership is extremely effective despite the terrible environment in which it is practiced. Under such conditions, old motivators such as pay, vacations, and job security aren’t much good. Yet, combat leaders help others reach very difficult goals and complete very arduous tasks. They build organizations that get things done ethically, honestly, and for the most part humanely, in many cases without giving direct orders.

 If business leaders could motivate their employees to perform at only a small percentage of the productivity achieved by combat leaders, what couldn’t their organizations accomplish? To develop this system, Dr. Cohen surveyed more than 200 general and flag officers who have since become corporate executives. This is our “flag-ship” seminar and the concepts and techniques taught have been recommended by U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater, Admiral and former Chief of Naval Operations Elmo Zumwalt, former Chief Staff of the Air Force Ronald Fogleman and many CEOs of major organizations.

Attendees learn how to put the eight universal laws and the eight essential influence tactics into practice plus a lot more.

2. A Class with Drucker: The Lost Lessons of the World’s Greatest Management Teacher

Dr. Bill Cohen studied under Peter Drucker from 1975-79 and became the first graduate of his executive graduate program. What Drucker taught him literally changed his life. In a few years he was recommissioned in the Air Force and rose to become a major general. He became a full professor, a university president, and authored 53 books published in 18 languages. He maintained a nearly lifelong friendship with the master. In this seminar/workshop Cohen shares many of Drucker’s teachings that never made it into his countless books and articles – ideas that were offered to his students in classroom or informal settings. Cohen expands on Drucker’s lessons with personal anecdotes and shows how Drucker’s ideas can be applied to real-world challenges that managers face today.

You will learn.

  • How to build your self-confidence step by step Drucker’s way
  • How to approach problems with your ignorance; not your experience
  • The organization that Drucker most admired
  • Why and how you must develop expertise outside of management
  • How to solve problems by approaching them with your ignorance
  • How to create the future
  • How to avoid fear of failure and loss of job
  • Many other concepts Drucker taught in the classroom and how to apply them


For more information, contact me directly by e-mail at or telephone (626) 794-5998. Yes we do give international seminars — The U.S. country code is 01.



“The goal of coaching is the goal of good management:  to make the most of an organization’s valuable resources.”  — HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW