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Description

Product Description

Required reading for all present and future leaders, this classic is for those who have to "get the job done"--military or not.

About the Author

Col. Dandridge M. (Mike) Malone, US Army (Ret.), began his army career as a private and ended as a colonel almost 30 years later. During that time, he earned a BS degree from Vanderbilt University and an MS from Purdue, and graduated from the Army Command and General Staff College and the Army War College. Renowned as the army’s leading expert on leadership, both in garrison and in combat, he has taught the subject to noncommissioned officers, West Point cadets, and students at various army service schools to include the Army War College. An audiotape he prepared on leadership,  Soldier, has some 50,000 copies in circulation among army troop units worldwide. He died in 1995.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

1
 
The Purpose of Small-Unit Leadership
 
On the battlefield. That’s where it is that you—Captain, Lieutenant, Sergeant—will do what it is our Army meant for you to do when you were offered the chance to become a small-unit leader.
 
The mission of the Armed Services is to defend this nation. Our Army’s part of that mission is to fight the land battle. Your part of the Army’s mission is to lead soldiers and small units during that battle. As a troop leader, that’s what you’re for and why you are. Your ultimate purpose is to lead. Troopers. On the battlefield.
 
As you study this leadership book, you will see many examples from the combat arms. But this book is not just for the combat arms. It is designed for use by all small-unit leaders in all kinds of units. “How to lead” doesn’t change that much from one kind of unit to another. The missions may vary and the situations may vary, but the central responsibilities of leaders in a rifle company are not all that different from the leadership responsibilities of the leaders in, say, an MP company. If and when war comes, our whole Army will be “on the battlefield.”
 
As you’ll see in a moment, this book will describe vividly the demands of the battlefield. But most of this book will describe how to prepare for that battlefield—how to prepare yourself, your soldiers, and your unit before the battle begins. The reason for this emphasis is pretty simple. Performance during battle is like the tip of an iceberg. It requires a whole lot of support—under the surface, behind the scenes—before the first round is fired. And the outcome of any battle is determined, with few exceptions, by how well soldiers and units and their leaders were prepared. Individual heroic actions can sometimes turn the tide of battle, but the real key to success on the battlefield, in any army, at any time, has always been well-trained soldiers in well-trained units. The message here should be clear. As a small-unit leader, you should only be doing one of two things:
 
• LEADING SOLDIERS AND SMALL UNITS DURING BATTLE
 
• PREPARING SOLDIERS AND SMALL UNITS TO FIGHT THE BATTLE
 
This book was written for company-level leaders, for those who wear the green tabs. For you, Captain, and for you, Lieutenant, and for you, Sergeant. It is a guide, a “road map,” to help you build small units that can destroy and defeat small enemy units. The challenge is immediate. We don’t know where or when that next battle will be fought. But we know, from history, that the battle will come. And it could come anytime, at a number of different locations. Building battle-ready units must be your number one priority, starting now.
 
Task, Conditions, and Standards for Leadership
 
The objective of this first chapter is to give you the “big picture” of small-unit leadership. Once you get a handle on that, the later chapters will begin to lay out specific leadership techniques and tools and “tricks of the trade.” With some idea of the big picture, you can then see how all these techniques and tools “fit together” to give you what you need to lead.
 
There is an easy way to understand the big picture: three words. If you’ll listen out across this big Army of ours, and if you’ll listen at small-unit level, you’ll hear leaders using three words that were seldom heard just a few years ago: TASK, CONDITIONS, and STANDARDS.
 
These are not just “training” words. They are also leadership words. Put together the right way, they describe very clearly what’s expected of you as a leader.
 
TASK
 
The whole purpose of leadership is simply to accomplish a task. That may sound too simple, but that’s what a leader is expected to do. He gets a TASK in the form of a mission or order, and then he gets that task done through the efforts of his followers.
 
Political leaders, community leaders, and even scout leaders are all like you, to some extent. All of you try to put people and things and time and effort together to accomplish a task. The big difference is that you are an Army leader. What that means is that, in the final analysis, you must be ready someday, somewhere, to lead soldiers to accomplish an ultimate task that no one else wants to do, under conditions that no one else wants to tolerate. Small-unit leaders of the combat arms will usually lead this ultimate task—but any of us might someday get the call, no matter what our rank or branch or MOS.
 
This ultimate task is what makes you as an Army leader so different from all those other leaders. It’s also the essence of being a “soldier.” It underlies the meaning of “service” as well, and it is the underpinning of the whole idea of military “duty.” All these things mean being ready to give up freedom, and even life, for the sake of our nation and its people, in what has been called “the noblest act of mankind.” At bedrock level, that’s what Army leadership is all about. And that’s why Army leadership is so important. An awesome responsibility.
 
To accomplish a task—that’s your purpose. You have done or will do this a thousand times, in response to orders direct, or implied, or trained into you. Orders that come down to you through the one thing that links all our leaders together—the chain of command. The chain of command controls, coordinates, and supports. It also challenges. Think about that time when “leadership” and “soldier” and “service” and “duty” will all come together, when the chain of command will give you that ultimate task to accomplish, when it will say to you, “Attack!”
 
The artillery shifts, and small-arms crack, and men tremble, and the platoon tenses for the final assault up the hill. You give the signal … and they go. Why is it that John T. McFerren, soldier, U.S. Army, obeys your order? Leadership, or followership? Neither. It’s both. Listen.
 
John T. McFerren assaults up into this kill-or-die situation because
 
a. HIS BUDDIES ARE COUNTING ON HIM TO DO HIS JOB.
b. HE THINKS HIS BUDDIES WILL CALL HIM A COWARD IF HE DOESN’T ATTACK.
c. HE HAS LEARNED THAT HIS LEADER KNOWS THE RIGHT THING TO DO.
d. HE WANTS TO PLEASE HIS LEADER.
e. HE BELIEVES HE WILL BE COURT-MARTIALED IF HE DOESN’T ATTACK.
f. HE THINKS HE WILL BE LEFT ALONE IF HE DOESN’T ATTACK.
g. HE BELIEVES THAT FOLLOWING ORDERS IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO.
h. HE BELIEVES HE WILL BE REWARDED FOR ATTACKING.
i. HE BELIEVES THAT ATTACKING IS LESS DANGEROUS THAN NOT ATTACKING.
j. HE BELIEVES HE WILL FEEL GUILTY IF HE DOESN’T ATTACK.
k. HE WANTS TO PROVE HIS MANHOOD, HIS COURAGE, HIS COMPETENCE, OR HIS WORTH AS A SOLDIER.
l. HE HATES THE ENEMY.
m. HE ENJOYS THE EXCITEMENT AND THRILL OF COMBAT.
n. FOLLOWING ORDERS HAS BECOME AUTOMATIC, A HABIT.
 
McFerren assaults for any, or all, or some combination of the above reasons, or for some other reasons not listed. If you had the expertise and the right psychological model, you might somehow figure out the “why” for McFerren, but next to him there’s Johnson and Allen and Brown. They go too, and each for some different pattern of reasons which neither you nor they will ever know—but they go. They go because at that critical moment in time, when each will wrestle briefly with the decision of whether to attack or hide, attacking is their best choice. You, as the leader, first out, first up, and out front show them that this is so. And so they go. They follow you. You lead. And that’s your TASK.
 

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4.6 out of 54.6 out of 5
229 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Richard B
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A phenomenal how-to guide
Reviewed in the United States on May 16, 2018
I spent 17 years in the Air Force and never knew how much I wanted this book to hand. Yes, it''s very Army-centric in its vocabulary, but the lessons on leading and managing can be effortlessly transferred to Airmen, Marines, and Sailors. If you want to be a... See more
I spent 17 years in the Air Force and never knew how much I wanted this book to hand. Yes, it''s very Army-centric in its vocabulary, but the lessons on leading and managing can be effortlessly transferred to Airmen, Marines, and Sailors.

If you want to be a better leader of the men and women who signed up to defend their country, you want this book. If you''re already a top-flight leader, you might already know 90% of what''s in here, but the remaining 10% will be gold (and is probably in the excellent list of questions to ask your troops). If you already know 100% of what''s in this book, then you already know that you should still be getting a copy to push into the hands of those leaders who are going to come after you.
5 people found this helpful
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gt surber
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Most practical book on leadership I have seen
Reviewed in the United States on February 1, 2014
Retired Col. Dandridge Malone has given us a classic book (1983) on leadership. He starts by defining leadership as working through other people to get a task (mission) done while building the morale and spirit of the group. This is followed by a discussion of what is... See more
Retired Col. Dandridge Malone has given us a classic book (1983) on leadership. He starts by defining leadership as working through other people to get a task (mission) done while building the morale and spirit of the group. This is followed by a discussion of what is Army leadership and how it works. Then we get very practical classification of the soldier into 4 categories - willing and able, willing and unable, unwilling but able, and unwilling and unable with a very down to earth discussion of how to handle each category. This is followed by a parallel discussion for groups. Then follows a practical discussion of how to develop soldiers and groups, excellent suggestions, pitfalls, warnings and difficulties. Malone closes with a detailed and practical pointed discussion of 25 different leadership skills from listening to asking the right questions.

The book is well written, an easy read, very practical in its applicability, giving good lists to carry in billfolds and packs, well explained, for a leader to know. There are a few exciting tales from military history (Howard''s Hill in Vietnam, etc) that add to the value of the book demonstrating the how of achieving as a soldier - leader.

The book is 100% military (Army) oriented. But all paramilitary type organizations from fire or police stations to Boy Scouts can benefit from this book. There are items that business and professional organizations can use, but I found those limited. Malone did not intend to address areas other than the small units of the US Army.

I feel this is the best and most practical of the many books on leadership that I have read. I did not find "fluff" or extraneous material. I found good solid explanations and examples of leadership and the skills necessary to develop leadership. Malone is right to call this "A Commonsense Approach."

A True Classic. I am putting in my personal list of sentinel books.
9 people found this helpful
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CMP
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Good book with a lot of helpful leadership content. Worth reading for certain whether you are military or not.
Reviewed in the United States on March 29, 2018
This was a well constructed book for the most part. I enjoyed the author''s presentation and content and his leadership thoughts were right on the money. The only reason this was not a five star book for me was the overall length. I labored through the last part of the... See more
This was a well constructed book for the most part. I enjoyed the author''s presentation and content and his leadership thoughts were right on the money. The only reason this was not a five star book for me was the overall length. I labored through the last part of the book (but that could have been a personal problem). Recommended and liked. Would be good for people who are picking up their first supervisory jobs in the military or private sector - makes no difference, the concepts are sound for any leadership environment.
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USCGsnipe
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The Leadership Book to Have
Reviewed in the United States on December 13, 2013
I have read many leadership books, but none as direct and effective as this one. If you are looking for a long read that is full of leadership metaphors and stories, this is not that book. If you are looking for leadership tools that you can start applying immediately, look... See more
I have read many leadership books, but none as direct and effective as this one. If you are looking for a long read that is full of leadership metaphors and stories, this is not that book. If you are looking for leadership tools that you can start applying immediately, look no further.

I cannot say enough about this book. It tremendously enhanced by leadership skills. It has pretty much everything you need to know for An O-3 and below. I would encourage all E-2''s and above to read this book and apply it. This really is a common sense approach that has enduring value. This serves as more than a book to read, it is more of a handbook. I referenced it several times over the course of years until I had everything "perfected".

Trust me, as a 13 year active duty veteran and senior enlisted, this is the book you are looking for.
8 people found this helpful
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J. Glass
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
All Small Unit Leaders Should Read this
Reviewed in the United States on November 9, 2011
This is probably the best book I have ever read on how to mold your small unit. I first read this book over 15 years ago and it totally changed my leadership style. I loaned it to my squad leaders who promptly kept it for their own use. I have bought and gifted several... See more
This is probably the best book I have ever read on how to mold your small unit. I first read this book over 15 years ago and it totally changed my leadership style. I loaned it to my squad leaders who promptly kept it for their own use. I have bought and gifted several of these books over the years and to a man everyone has said it was a real eye-opener. This book should be mandatory reading at the Warrior Leaders Course (formerly PLDC/PNCOC and whatever else the other services call their first leadership course) and probably for cadets and OBC officers. Some of the training information is dated (OK it is all from the Vietnam era and some early 70s and early 80s stuff) but fight through that to the meat of the book - a blueprint for leading combat Soldiers. Retired Army First Sergeant is my qualification to comment on this.
7 people found this helpful
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Suzanne M. Owen
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Teaches NCOs how to develop leadership in subordinates--worthwhile read/listen
Reviewed in the United States on March 23, 2018
It explains leadership doctrine from an NCO point of view and then provides stories written by soldiers about their experience with leaders in prior wars. Then it describes methods for developing leadership in subordinates. The narrators voice is the perfect NCO voice.... See more
It explains leadership doctrine from an NCO point of view and then provides stories written by soldiers about their experience with leaders in prior wars. Then it describes methods for developing leadership in subordinates. The narrators voice is the perfect NCO voice. In sum, I am enjoying this one and find it worth listening to.
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T. Hooper
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
An Interesting Book on Leadership
Reviewed in the United States on April 16, 2005
This book was written for officers in the United States Army. It gives officers an idea of how to manage and develop the soldiers under them. Particularly it gives good advice on how to recognize and deal with certain types of soldiers based on a skill, will, and teamwork... See more
This book was written for officers in the United States Army. It gives officers an idea of how to manage and develop the soldiers under them. Particularly it gives good advice on how to recognize and deal with certain types of soldiers based on a skill, will, and teamwork scale. To tell the truth, I''m not in the army, but I bought this book to gain some insight into the army''s way of managing and developing soldiers. I believe that if you are a businessperson or a teacher, you can learn a lot about how to treat different employees or students. Each person has individual needs that need to be handled in different ways, and I think this is something that this book does a good job of introducing. If you''re in the army, you definitely need this, and if you''re not, you can still gain a lot of knowledge by reading this.
60 people found this helpful
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K. S.
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Excellent text on becoming and being a leader.
Reviewed in the United States on April 13, 2019
This book gets to the points and explains those points. You will not waste your time reading this book. You don''t have to be in the army or the military. If you''re just starting on the road to bring a leader or if you want to improve, this material is ground zero.
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Top reviews from other countries

GN76
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
logical thought out chapters and sections with useful diagrams helping to flesh out his deceptively simple prose
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 15, 2016
common sense? yes. But its exactly whats at the end of our noses that we often miss. He distills years of combat experience into concise, logical thought out chapters and sections with useful diagrams helping to flesh out his deceptively simple prose. Being able to use...See more
common sense? yes. But its exactly whats at the end of our noses that we often miss. He distills years of combat experience into concise, logical thought out chapters and sections with useful diagrams helping to flesh out his deceptively simple prose. Being able to use simple language without resort to management buzz words (which signify the bankruptcy of "management" anyway) Dandridge is able to separate the wheat from the chaff. Sometimes reading much like a York notes or leadership primer text it repays regular rereading. Master the basics, as they say, and you''ve become an expert. Its common sense.
common sense? yes. But its exactly whats at the end of our noses that we often miss. He distills years of combat experience into concise, logical thought out chapters and sections with useful diagrams helping to flesh out his deceptively simple prose. Being able to use simple language without resort to management buzz words (which signify the bankruptcy of "management" anyway) Dandridge is able to separate the wheat from the chaff. Sometimes reading much like a York notes or leadership primer text it repays regular rereading. Master the basics, as they say, and you''ve become an expert. Its common sense.
One person found this helpful
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Jeff
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Essential reading for Officers and NCOs
Reviewed in Canada on September 21, 2016
As a Commissioned and Senior Officer, I have read and studied many books on leadership over the years, but have mainly been frustrated with the vague theoretical ideas, even if backed-up by interesting stories, that are presented in most leadership books, and are difficult...See more
As a Commissioned and Senior Officer, I have read and studied many books on leadership over the years, but have mainly been frustrated with the vague theoretical ideas, even if backed-up by interesting stories, that are presented in most leadership books, and are difficult to translate into practical action. Small Unit Leadership rectifies this deficiency by giving the reader a step by step action plan via no nonsense "when in this situation, do this" advice. I am now well beyond the main target audience of Captains and Senior NCOs, but I still re-read the book at least once a year, and every time I do I discover additional nuances and add positive layers to my leadership skills. This publication is highly recommended for leaders at any and all levels, but is essential for Junior Officers and Senior NCOs.
As a Commissioned and Senior Officer, I have read and studied many books on leadership over the years, but have mainly been frustrated with the vague theoretical ideas, even if backed-up by interesting stories, that are presented in most leadership books, and are difficult to translate into practical action. Small Unit Leadership rectifies this deficiency by giving the reader a step by step action plan via no nonsense "when in this situation, do this" advice. I am now well beyond the main target audience of Captains and Senior NCOs, but I still re-read the book at least once a year, and every time I do I discover additional nuances and add positive layers to my leadership skills. This publication is highly recommended for leaders at any and all levels, but is essential for Junior Officers and Senior NCOs.
5 people found this helpful
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WildmanOne
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Indispensable
Reviewed in Canada on June 8, 2017
This book is without a doubt indispensable reading for NCO''s and officers in all branches of the military. As mentioned in several other reviews, this book offers sound, clear and concise direction and practical experience based advice that can be implemented immediately in...See more
This book is without a doubt indispensable reading for NCO''s and officers in all branches of the military. As mentioned in several other reviews, this book offers sound, clear and concise direction and practical experience based advice that can be implemented immediately in most cases. There is little fat to the writing, and the several real life stories are used as sound examples of the respective topic rather than filler. I would also recommend this book to civilians, police and other emergency services, and wildland fire crews, as it can help with the prioritization of training, mentor the techniques to foster positive team dynamics, and show how to make all aspects of leadership more effective. It also puts into perspective the chain of command and the role that your team and leadership plays in the bigger picture, and the importance therein. TL:DR I would recommend this book to any leader in any occupation. ~ WildmanOne
This book is without a doubt indispensable reading for NCO''s and officers in all branches of the military. As mentioned in several other reviews, this book offers sound, clear and concise direction and practical experience based advice that can be implemented immediately in most cases. There is little fat to the writing, and the several real life stories are used as sound examples of the respective topic rather than filler.

I would also recommend this book to civilians, police and other emergency services, and wildland fire crews, as it can help with the prioritization of training, mentor the techniques to foster positive team dynamics, and show how to make all aspects of leadership more effective. It also puts into perspective the chain of command and the role that your team and leadership plays in the bigger picture, and the importance therein.

TL:DR I would recommend this book to any leader in any occupation.

~ WildmanOne
One person found this helpful
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J.B.
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Well structured and team oriented advice
Reviewed in Germany on April 3, 2018
I am looking for leadership advice as civilian middle management medical leader. If you are interested in a team-oriented aspect of leadership (non military too), then look at "small unit leadership". The mentioned book is extremly well structured and offers a lot...See more
I am looking for leadership advice as civilian middle management medical leader. If you are interested in a team-oriented aspect of leadership (non military too), then look at "small unit leadership". The mentioned book is extremly well structured and offers a lot of general advice for those who lack an economic leadership education. One of my best books.
I am looking for leadership advice as civilian middle management medical leader. If you are interested in a team-oriented aspect of leadership (non military too), then look at "small unit leadership". The mentioned book is extremly well structured and offers a lot of general advice for those who lack an economic leadership education. One of my best books.
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Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Worth a read
Reviewed in India on October 26, 2019
This book is a practical hand guide to leadership. Although the writer focuses mainly on military leadership the same principles can be easily used for any mangaement role
This book is a practical hand guide to leadership.
Although the writer focuses mainly on military leadership the same principles can be easily used for any mangaement role
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