Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré (U.S. Army, Retired) is the 3-star general who burst upon the national scene in 2005 when New Orleans was in dire straits following Hurricane Katrina. He was the commander of Joint Task Force Katrina and was in charge of the massive search-and-rescue operation and the restoration of order in New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast following the terrible storm.
And in the course of doing his job there he showed the world what authentic leadership looks like.
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Gen. Honoré, who now lives in Baton Rouge, spent 37 years in the Army, and he continues to serve in a number of other ways. He thinks of “giving back” as an essential part of patriotism. So, nowadays he is an active public speaker, business consultant, Senior Scientist for the Gallup Organization, and CNN contributor on topics related to disaster preparedness
He has a new book out that is sure to raise some eyebrows as it addresses ways to make this world a better place in which to live – at home and abroad.
Now, the book, titled Leadership in the New Normal (Acadian House, $16.95), may not sound like a book on social conscience and responsibility. But sprinkled among the practical lessons on how to be an effective leader are observations on topics such as the immeasurable value of good parenting and the virtue of helping poorer countries develop at a quicker pace.
Having been an Army commander of missions on five continents, not surprisingly he makes some bold and insightful statements in his new book. He predicts, as others have, that the next wars will be fought over water, not oil. He points out that a society that essentially predestines some of its children to a life in prison – via the “Cradle-to-Prison Pipeline” – is a sick society that needs to examine its collective social conscience and work hard to address this American tragedy. He praises the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) for the leadership role it has taken toward curbing this stunning reality of life in the U.S.
On the global front, Gen. Honoré advocates making more of an effort to help turn “have-nots” into “haves” – a subject that seems to be close to his heart – not only locally but nationally and internationally. He suggests that such a movement would be good for national security:
“People who can feed their families and feel like they’re getting somewhere in life are less dangerous people.”
In one chapter, he says “decision superiority” is an essential quality needed by leaders of the 21st century. He defines the term as the ability to “see first, understand first, and act first.” Without this quality, General George Washington would not have defeated the British in December of 1776, he adds.
In another chapter, he identifies the first three principles of leadership: Do the routine things well; don’t be afraid to take on the seemingly impossible; and never allow yourself to become paralyzed into inaction by fear of criticism.
Leadership in the New Normal is available through bookstores and gift shops nationwide. It can be obtained online at www.acadianhouse.com or by mail order from Acadian House, P.O. Box 52247, Lafayette, LA 70505, (800) 850-8851. It retails for $16.95 plus $4 for shipping.
In a special chapter on the importance of leadership at home, he writes: “A family is a team, and teams need leaders” – that is, parents who are devoted to parenting and teaching their children.