Schwarzkopf issues "character" challenge to NACORE - Nashville, TN.- December 3, 2001The keynote speaker at this year's NACORE Symposium was retired General H.Norman Schwarzkopf.Charismatic and svelte, the general offered his take on the reason why leaders fail."If you look at the leadership failures that have occurred in this country over the last 100 years, you will find that 99% of all those failures were failures in character; they were not failures in competence.Schwarzkopf offered commentary on everything from the current situation in Afghanistan to "how to be a leader in the twenty-first century.
You might ask what Norman Schwarzkopf has in common with real estate executives.Of course, the answer is "absolutely nothing," but if you were a cadre of mostly rich, white, middle aged, male Republicans, then who would you rather hear at your keynote, Schwarzkopf or someone from your own peer group.I think I'd choose "Stormin' Norman any day.
Schwarzkopf issued "two rules" and promised that if you follow them, you will become a great leader in the twenty-first century: Rule number 1 - When placed in command-Take Charge! Schwarzkopf asked, "Why are leaders respected? Because they recognize a need for action and then they make things happen and they take responsibility." Rule number 2 - Do what's right! He noted that doing what is 'right' brings us "right back to this character thing again."
Striking a decidedly serious tone, Schwarzkopf went on to ask: "Why do I make such a big deal of this thing called 'character'? Recently there was a poll of the workers, 75% of the workers polled said that they lied to their bosses on a regular basis.That's frightening, that's frightening.But let me tell you what's more frightening.When they were asked why do you lie to your bosses, they said because our bosses lie to us! Our bosses lie to us all the time.And if our bosses to lie to us, it's perfectly alright for us to lie them.And you know what, they are right, because the ethical climate of any organization is established by the leadership of an organization.And for that reason the leaders, in time of true crisis, must pick someone from their peers to be the leader they always pick someone based on their character." (Listen to this commentary)
Schwarzkopf ended his keynote grasping the American flag and urging attendees never to forget the heros of the current war, from the victims of the World Trade Center and Pentagon to the mail handlers who everyday are out there just doing their job.