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on September 4, 2007
I have been reading Muddy Boots Leadership by John Chapman, Major, USA (Ret.). This is an excellent little book. And I say little, because it is only 167 pages. That's because Mr. Chapman does not mess around. In quick, striking paragraphs he distills and dispenses leadership tips and tricks. He discusses expectations and disappointments from the perspective of those leading and those led. He gives specific do's and don'ts. On the side of each page are short, profound quotes from famous leaders past and present. For example, there is this by Gen. Colin Powell, "There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure." And showing he is not afraid to use wisdom from unconventional sources, Mr. Chapman shares a quote from Che Guevara, "Words that do not match deeds are not important."

There is much to take away from this book. For me, the idea that seems to shine from cover to cover is that great leaders, if they work at being a leader, can make themselves. They can make themselves by being committed to the mission of their unit or business. They can make themselves by giving genuine concern to those they are leading. Mr. Chapman, at one point says, "Five minutes checking on the guards in a freezing rain at midnight is worth a year of payday speeches." Definitely some wisdom there, and you know what? In your day-to-day job, or within your family, can you think of a similar application? Can you go down and check on those forklift drivers working in the heat? Leaders make themselves by having personal integrity. They make themselves by being professional and knowing their job or mission, but they remain human and never fail to wear their heart on their sleeve. There is more, but I think you can see where this excellent book will lead the reader.

Let me close by saying that I can't find any fault in this book. I've read many books on the subject of leadership, but I'm hardly an expert. But in my own little world of day-to-day leadership with those that I work around, I have seen these principles in action, and I have put them into action. They work. And don't be fooled by the fact that this book is written from a military perspective. As the back blurb makes note of, "The leadership lessons learned and relearned by military leaders are applicable to a wide variety of organizations, both civil and military." I believe good leadership filters down to the family level, and I have seen that in action as well. Finally, had Major Chapman ever been my leader, I would have gladly followed.
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on August 1, 2011
I just finished this book and heartily recommend it for leaders, both military and civilian. Chapman provides not only a great set of guidelines on various aspects of leadership, but also real life stories that illustrate the points - both positive and negative examples. Additionally, he includes quotes from commanders, philosophers, poets, scientists, business leaders and many others to emphasize his points.

As another reviewer noted, Chapman relates that the worse the weather, the more important for you, as a leader, to be there. Even in an office environment, there are times that no one wants to work and duties that no one wants to perform. If a leader never involves himself in these inconvenient and uncomfortable tasks, nor checks on them, it sends a message to those performing them about the unimportance of those tasks.

In writing about "Not Quitting", Chapman quotes Albert Schweitzer, "Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing." He then relates this real life story to illustrate how actions speak louder than words.

"It was late Friday night. The platoon had been breaking down tank track and replacing track shoes for hours. The soldiers were beyond exhaustion. They were beyond intimidation. They quit working and sat down, waiting for the inevitable ass-chewing.

"The platoon sergeant had worked just as hard and long as they had. He was every bit as tired, and many years older. He approached the sullen group and said... nothing.

"He walked past them as if they were invisible. He slowly bent down, picked up the tools and began to break down track alone.

"For several minutes the soldiers watched him sweat and grunt. Slowly, one by one, they each stood up and resumed work. Not a word was said, not then, not ever."

The book was a quick read for me and I think it useful for anyone in a leadership position or who hopes to have a leadership position. You may never have to inspect a listening post in the middle of the night during a thunderstorm, but the lessons Chapman learned as an officer can be applied anywhere.

Cross-posted from my blog at [...]
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on February 4, 2009
I have given away a dozen of these books. I try to always keep a couple on-hand just for that purpose. It is an ideal book for anyone in leadership--short, real and a pleasure to pass on to others.
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on April 3, 2016
Great practical leadership book for anyone managing people in a large organization. Lots of commonsense practical advice that's helpful for supervising, mentoring, and coaching personnel in a variety of fields. It is probably most applicable to military, police, and similar types of organizations.
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on July 23, 2013
The book makes a lot of good points and is great for military leaders, but it is very heavy on slang. Unless you're in the military or are extremely familiar with the military and it's terminology the book and the points the author makes can be difficult to discern at times.
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on July 9, 2006
This book contains much advise for current leaders and future leaders using grounded logic and experience to offer sure ways to be a great leader.

While the focus is on military leadership, those in the business world will also benefit from this book. Chapman re-enforces the rules which produce results in any organization.

I will take this lesson and use it for improving the leadership in our business.
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on January 26, 2008
This book was written by my current instructor at ALMC and his experiences are well worth the book. I have the fortunate experience of being able to hear many of them first hand. It's put together in a very easy to read style with anecdotes and lessons learned. If I could be half as smart as MAJ Chapman just by reading the book it's well worth the ten dollars.
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on June 20, 2012
absolutely the best examples of leadership! A good read for young leaders in the making. Purchased this book for my little brother starting his young leadership experience in AFROTC.
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on November 20, 2012
Loved the contents. With 22 years of military service the examples are spot on. Would have given 5 starts but the kindle format makes it awkward to get through.
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on January 21, 2013
This book is outstanding. In my opinion this book should be an assigned read at WLC and ROTC/OCS. SO many life lessons can be learned from this book.
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