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Leading With Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton Hardcover – May 14, 2012
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''In Leading with Honor, Lee Ellis shows us that the principles of leadership he experienced during some of the most difficult situations as a POW are applicable to leaders everywhere. Lee s candid narrative is compelling, giving us an appreciation for the importance of leading with honor and courage, even in the face of the most difficult adversity.''
--Ralph de la Vega, President and CEO, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets, Author of Obstacles Welcome: Turn Adversity into Advantage in Business and Life
''In Leading with Honor, Lee uses gripping stories from the POW camps to engage the reader and teach invaluable principles of leadership. I highly recommend this book for developing leaders at all levels in any organization, military of civilian.''
--William R. Looney III, General USAF (Ret)
''In the crowded world of books on leadership, Lee Ellis's unique contribution, Leading with Honor, rises well above the standard fare on this topic. His book is so authentic in that he has personally experienced most of the lessons he promotes. In short, he's ''been there, done that'' in terms of ''knowing himself'' and ''knowing others.'' The book strongly provides keen insights on the subject and he persuasively integrates leadership with such vital values concepts such as conscience, trust, principles and honor -- topics too often lost today. This book far exceeds anything I've seen and it's story telling style woven into strong, practical wisdom makes it hard to put down. I enthusiastically commend Leading with Honor to leaders seeking to synchronize their personal styles with the challenges of managing diverse people and tasks.''
--Archie B. Carroll, Director, Nonprofit Management & Community Service Program and Professor of Management Emeritus, Terry College of Business, University of Georgia
''Lee has captured many powerful lessons through his many years of experience in this gripping read. He has used those lessons with us as our team has evolved over the past several years. His leadership and facilitation have helped us to grow as a leaders individually as well as become a strong team.''
--Carol Burrell, President and CEO, Northeast Georgia Health Systems
''Leading with Honor is an introspective read offering character and leadership parallels from prisoner of war (POW) camps to today's challenging business environment. Lee does a thought provoking, masterful job sharing his personal experiences in captivity and integrating those into principles for leadership success. This book is a must read, authored by a unique individual who continues to give back to those he so courageously served and protected - the leaders of today and tomorrow.''
----Ed Day, President and CEO, Mississippi Power Company
''As I read Leading with Honor, I thought,' Imagine if ALL the leaders of our country--from the President, to the members of Congress, to our state government leaders were elected based upon their commitment to the standards and leadership qualities that Lee describes as hallmarks and guideposts for leading with honor'. How quickly the United States could re-assert its reputation not only as the envy of the world as a leading industrial nation, but as t --ForeWord Reviews
''As I read Leading with Honor, I thought,' Imagine if ALL the leaders of our country--from the President, to the members of Congress, to our state government leaders were elected based upon their commitment to the standards and leadership qualities that Lee describes as hallmarks and guideposts for leading with honor'. How quickly the United States could re-assert its reputation not only as the envy of the world as a leading industrial nation, but as the brightest beacon of light and hope and honor on the planet.''
- Bob Littell, Chief NetWeaver, NetWeaving.com
''True leadership is that which surfaces when one is tested in the most severe of arenas. The leadership lessons Lee Ellis imparts in this compelling work come from just such an arena. Those lessons do much to inform all of us who lead in these challenging times.''
--John R. Lough, EdD, Manager, Professional Development Programs, The BB&T Banking School, BB&T University
''Imagine yourself in the most hostile environment possible, experiencing constant deprivation and even torture for not just a day, but for years. How is it that certain people in times of such crises never waver or falter, but instead exhibit remarkable endurance and faithfulness in accomplishing one's mission? The answer is leadership that respects, dignifies, and serves others; leadership that stirs souls, heals hearts, touches lives. In these pages, Lee Ellis shares extraordinary stories of courage, resiliency, honor, and humility from which we can learn about such transformative leadership and apply these insights to today's workplace.''
- Michael Montelongo, SVP & Chief Administrative Officer, On-site Service Solutions, Sodexo North America
''WOW! Col (ret) Lee Ellis has given us a true gift - real solutions to today's leadership issues against a backdrop of real human survival in Prisoner of War status. This wonderful book is a must read for all who aspire to any leadership job! An absolute 'page turner' and tribute to our warriors of a by-gone era, with lessons for today.''
- Lt Gen William Lord, USAF
''Leading with Honor combines a gripping personal narrative with analysis of the events described [during his POW experience] and lessons that can be applied by leaders in a variety of organizations.'' --- Business Book Summaries (bizsum.com/summaries/leading-honor)
''Ellis carefully weaves the story of himself and his fellow POWs throughout the book while relating their experiences directly to leadership lessons. He has a rare ability to cast a positive light on what he and his colleagues endured, turning it into fodder for an exceptionally well-constructed and well-written book. The reader is sure to learn about leadership from an entirely new perspective.''
--- ForeWord Reviews
About the Author
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Fortunately, Ellis ejected. Unfortunately, North Vietnamese combatants captured him. For five and a half years, he stayed at the now infamous "Hanoi Hilton," the sarcastic name applied to the prison camp that also housed the POW we would come to know as Senator John McCain.
After his release from the service, Lee Ellis started sharing the leadership lessons he had learned for survival. He has become a popular speaker and consultant for leading corporations. Now this gripping book makes his crucible-proven concepts about communication, morale, team building, and motivation available to a larger public.
I invite you to watch my brief video review of Leading with Honor.
In his new book, "Leading with Honor - Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton," the author digs deep into his soul and his history - both as a prisoner of war and as an executive coach and consultant - to extract lessons that are universally applicable to anyone privileged to lead others. The format is simple and deeply impactful. At the beginning of each chapter, Ellis shares recollections of his time as a prisoner of war, and reflects on leadership lessons he gleaned by examining his own behavior and the behaviors of other brave men with whom he was incarcerated. He then transitions to a section in which he applies that leadership lesson to a "real world" situation - often a business challenge. He cites a variety of examples from the many companies and leaders he has helped in his role as consultant and coach. Finally, he boils down the crucial point of the chapter into what he calls a "Foot Stomper" - a pithy, short paragraph that captures the essence of the leadership principle in question. The result is a compact book on leadership that is both powerful and practical.
The first half of the book deals with helping the reader to lead himself/herself. The second half concentrates on principles of leading others. Chapter 9 - "Develop Your People" - I found to be a particularly inspiring chapter. In his memoir section, the author recounts the extraordinary efforts that his cadre of prisoners undertook to pass their time constructively and to keep morale high under the most trying of circumstances, including physical torture. Within his cell, the prisoners took inventory of the areas of expertise that they possessed, and they created a curriculum whereby prisoners would teach other prisoners.
"Even though Camp Unity had much larger rooms - my cell measured about twenty-five feet by seventy - fifty-five of us were jammed in there like sardines,twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. . . In such close quarters, SRO [Senior Ranking Officer] Clower quickly realized that things could get dicey if we didn't have activities to occupy our time. So he asked Captain Tom Storey (USAF), an experienced educator, to launch a learning program. Tom listed several study options using the concrete slab floor as his blackboard and pieces of broken brick as chalk. The electives included math, calculus, science, history, Spanish, French, electronics, German wines and public speaking.
One track of courses was taught on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and another on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. School was in session three hours in the mornings and two hours in the afternoons. . . Most cells had similar ongoing educational programs, and someone came up with the idea of organizing an officer candidate school for the only three Air Force enlisted men in the Hanoi POW camps. A number of officers developed a rigorous curriculum and volunteered to teach the various components of the course. When the three men returned home, the U.S. Congress approved the program and offered the candidates commissions as second lieutenants in the U.S. Air Force.
The lack of books or outside resources did not limit our continuous learning in the POW camps. We relied on recall of past education, and where there was a lack of clarity on a subject, we tried to get a consensus of the best minds. . . Our investment in development has paid big dividends in the years since." (Pages 121-123)
Lee Ellis and his fellow prisoners were well ahead of the wave of "Crowd Sourcing" that has become so popular in this century.
The practical application of this chapter leads with the story of US Air Captain "Sully" Sullenberger and his "Miracle on the Hudson" landing of the crippled 737 with no loss of life. The point was that a life-long commitment to self-development, training and development at the hands of others had uniquely prepared Sully for this once-in-a-lifetime emergency situation.
Two different pilots of crippled aircraft - flying worlds and decades apart - each have a great deal to teach us about courage and leadership under duress.
Here is the "Foot Stomper for this chapter: "Authentic leaders engage in continual development. Knowledge alone is not enough; the only way to grow as a leader is to do things differently,and that requires change. Go first, and then take your people with you." (Page 128)
During this time of year when we thing about giving meaningful and thoughtful gifts, this book would be a welcome addition to the library of any leader or aspiring leader.
Lee Ellis was shot down over North Vietnam in November of 1967 and remained a captive until mid-1972. He, along with his fellow POWs, survived conditions that stagger the imagination, but rather than living the rest of his life consumed by bitterness, Ellis decided to use the lessons he learned in the Hanoi Hilton to make himself a better man.
Each chapter in the book begins with a story from the POW camp and then evolves into a life-lesson designed to teach us how to "lead with honor". Life is not always easy and making honorable decisions can be difficult. Ellis and the rest of the POWs learned this the hard way, but they survived thanks to their mantra...when it's time to go home, return with honor.
Whether you are a corporate executive, a politician, a school teacher or a parent, you will find something useful in every single "lesson". I generally find "self-help" books boring, clichéd and formulaic - but this book stands alone. It is simultaneously riveting and inspirational.