Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Dailey is putting together a professional reading list, and he's asked soldiers for their ideas and recommendations.
"I want to stimulate intellectual learning inside the [noncommissioned officer] ranks," Dailey told Army Times. "If you want people to participate in something, you have to let them have a say."
Once he receives soldier submissions, Dailey plans to pick – and read – a book approximately every quarter. He's even looking to conduct professional development forums and discussions about the chosen book when he visits installations across the Army, almost like a book club. The goal is to launch this effort in the February time frame.
Here are some of the recommendations Army Times received from soldiers across the force, in no particular order.
"Catch-22" by Joseph Heller
"If SMA Dailey has not read '"Catch 22'" by Joseph Heller, then he is really missing out. I don’t know if it meets the traditional leadership examples he might be looking for, but I do think that it’s a great way to see the madness of bureaucracy that I, personally, view as a major disease within the Army. Also, it’s hilarious."
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller.
Photo Credit: file
Sgt. Michael DePalma
Battle noncommissioned officer, NATO Kosovo Force
"The Killer Angels: A Novel of the Civil War" by Michael Shaara
"I believe history as a whole is neglected by our profession of arms, especially this new generation coming in. … I believe it to be very important that soldiers know where their Army came from."
Sgt. Nicholas Mauro
10th Mountain Division
"The Mentor Leader: Secrets to Building People and Teams that Win Consistently" by Tony Dungy
"I think the book is absolutely phenomenal, and it also has a unique way of getting the message across. It puts the idea of being a leader not into the perspective of rank, chain of command, structure, etc., but solely by being a mentor."
1st Lt. Jeffrey Jerald
330th Transportation Battalion
"A Wrestling Life: The Inspiring Stories of Dan Gable" by Dan Gable
"This book captures the entire life of one of the greatest wrestlers this country and the world has ever seen. Dan Gable has gone through some of the most difficult situations anyone could have gone through yet still persevered and won an Olympic gold medal along with other accolades. … Coach Gable was the leader I chose to write about at [the Senior Leader Course] for my legacy leader paper. Although he wasn't in the Army, he epitomizes what every leader should be."
Sgt. 1st Class John Rivera
"Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness" by Robert K. Greenleaf
"This essay reflects on the need for leaders to legitimately care for their subordinates in order to understand their needs. This is especially important for NCOs, since that is what a sergeant is."
Sgt. 1st Class Jean Burgos
Platoon sergeant, 101st Airborne Division
"The Power of Habit: Why we do what we do in life and business" by Charles Duhigg
"It's won several awards and has been generally well received as an insightful primer on why we do the things we do and how to bring about change."
Former medic and specialist
"The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One that Isn't" by Robert I. Sutton
"It is cathartic for those who have endured toxic leadership and guides you on how to build great working environments and people."
The No Asshole Rule. Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving one that Isn't by Robert I. Sutton.
Photo Credit: file
Lt. Col. Bryan Bettey
Nebraska Army National Guard
"Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action" and "Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don't" by Simon Sinek
"They both get after the same underlying concept of building strong teams and empowering our subordinates. In today's world, nothing empowers young soldiers better than understanding why they have to do what is asked of them. Understanding why garners buy-in from your soldiers. Reading "Leaders Eat Last," young leaders can start to truly understand the extent of their influence and learn how to create environments in their squad where soldiers want to work together rather than do so because they were told to do so."
Command Sgt. Maj. Jose Melendez
306th Military Intelligence Battalion, Task Force Raven, Afghanistan
"Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Begin and Sadat at Camp David" by Lawrence Wright
"The book is an account of the historic Camp David accords, and I believe offers a unique history and diplomatic account of how three distinct views regarding the Middle East could be brought together to forge a future based upon peace and mutual respect. It offers a history of the region and perspectives that I believe are an essential part of understanding today's world."
Sgt. 1st Class Rick Carter
Nebraska Army National Guard
"Brothers in Battle, Best of Friends" by William Guarnere and Edward Heffron
"Guarnere and Heffron were "two New Yorkers who came to be famous because of the 'Band of Brothers' miniseries. … The premise of the book starts with Guarnere's induction into the 101st … and then after a while it's a back and forth conversation about the progression of the war from their foxholes. It seems like it's your buddies sitting around a fire having some beers, listening to these dudes reminisce about a storied infantry unit. … Once guys read this book, I think they'll be hooked on reading, or at least see the light of reading, and then, only then, will soldiers start reading."
Capt. Matthew Payne
Commander, A Company, 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment
"The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement" by Eliyahu M. Goldratt and Jeff Cox
This novel "could easily be translated into Army leadership. … The basic premise is that the protagonist takes over running a factory that isn't doing well. He reaches out to an old professor who tells him the only thing that matters if the goal. Everything else is there to support that. The book was great at explaining the Theory of Constraints (you can only move as fast as your slowest piece) as well as the best way to solve a problem."
Capt. Timothy Jones
"Dignity of Duty: The Journals of Erasmus Corwin Gilbreath, 1861-1898" by Erasmus Corwin Gilbreath
"Maj. Gilbreath served in the 11th U.S. Infantry and before that with the 20th Indiana during the Civil War. He was a sort of Forrest Gump of 19th Century American military history and U.S. Army history and a good writer. His journals were discovered after many, many decades, and we [the Pritzker Military Museum and Library] published them."
President and CEO, Pritzker Military Museum and Library in Chicago, Illinois
"The Heart of Change: Real-Life Stories of How People Change their Organizations" by John P. Kotter
"I read Mr. Kotter's book, 'Leading Change' and enjoyed the book immensely as it outlined the eight-step model on what to use for changing the organizational culture. … 'The Heart of Change,' details how organizations put the eight-step model into application and what challenges an organization faced with implementing."
Maj. Demetrius Huntspon
Current operations officer, 21st Signal Brigade
"Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World" by retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal
"In the last quarter, I had my organization, which is spread across five installations, read 'Team of Teams.' It is a good mix of military and non-military subjects that discuss teamwork and leadership. I think it has lessons for soldiers at all levels to benefit from."
Lt. Col. Jay Thoman
Regional defense counsel, Mississippi Valley Region
"Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life" by Neil Strauss
"What I found truly great about this book is that it approaches one man's fears and ignites a 'fight-or-flight' mentality. Neil seems to be so stricken with where the world seems to be headed that he begins looking for a way out. … Years ago, before I joined the Army, this book showed me that it's never too late to grab hold of your life. It taught me that I can learn skills and learn from others' experiences. It showed me that a person can be weak in one area but strong in another. It showed me that anyone can be a leader, all they need are the tools."
Spc. Nicholas Gaffney
704th Military Intelligence Brigade
"Disciples: The World War II Missions of the CIA Directors who Fought for Wild Bill Donovan" and "Wild Bill Donovan: The Spymaster who created the OSS and Modern American Espionage" by Douglas Waller
"The Office of Strategic Services was not only the World War II predecessor of today's CIA, the U.S. Special Operations Command also traces its heritage back to this organization. 'Wild Bill Donovan' and 'Disciples' portray key figures in the OSS who shaped modern unconventional warfare."
President of the OSS Society
"Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box" by the Arbinger Institute
"This book changed my life not only as a reader, but it also changed my life as a wife, mother and friend. Its narrative reads as a story and not self-help, and packs a huge punch in the self-reflection realm of life. If every soldier were required to read and then conduct business as this book teaches, problem-solving, team-building and general respect for others would be a breeze."
Sgt. 1st Class Sarah Delvalle
"Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success" by Phil Jackson
"The book examines the coaching and leadership styles of Phil Jackson, who used some very unique methods, such as applying concepts of Zen and meditation, in his development of these championship [basketball] teams."
Phil Jackson's Eleven Rings The Soul of Success.
Photo Credit: file
Sgt. Jonathan De Los Santos
454th Engineer Company, Texas Army National Guard
"Lincoln on Leadership: Executive Strategies for Tough Times" by Donald T. Phillips
"This book is purely a leadership text that demonstrates how Lincoln applied certain principles to tough situations. … Between 2001 and 2010 I took a break from the Army to explore a career in business. During this 10-year break … I found myself tested. Leading through a calm and positive situation is easy. Leading through challenge and adversity is a whole different ball game. This book gave me universal common sense principles needed to successfully lead through tough times."
Staff Sgt. Robert Sklenarik
Active Guard and Reserve recruiter
"Starship Troopers" by Robert A. Heinlein
"While it's a science fiction novel, I found that it represented a great interpretation of selfless military service and the transition from civilian to soldier to military leader. There is excellent self-reflection from the narrator while his thoughts evolve from green recruit to the leader of soldiers. I'd like to recommend this book because it helped me transition smoothly mentally and adapt to what I needed to be to be a successful soldier."
Spc. Kristopher Madden
4th Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Division
"Practice Perfect: 42 Rules for Getting Better at Getting Better" by Doug Lemon
"The Talent Code: Greatness isn't born, it's grown. Here's how" by Daniel Coyle
"Streetlights and Shadows: Searching for the Keys to Adaptive Decision Making" by Gary Klein
"Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain" by John J. Ratey
"These books have informed me on how to train, develop and inspire subordinate leaders."
Lt. Col. Daniel Markert
Commander, 2nd Battalion, 223rd Training Regiment, and state marksmanship coordinator, California National Guard
"The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People will Follow You" by John C. Maxwell
"This book looks at 21 different areas that leaders can work on to increase their effectiveness and accomplish the ultimate goal: grow more leaders. This books, while references the military, centers around business models and other organizations. This is the best all-around leadership book I have read."
Capt. Michael Vansteenkiste
Military assistant to the deputy adviser to the Afghan minister of defense
"The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change" by Stephen R. Covey
"It is the most profound book that I have read in the last 10 years. I've read many leadership and team-building books throughout my 15-year career and many focus on personality traits like influencing people, talking and speaking better, and selling techniques that 'inspire the uninspired.' Covey's book focuses on character traits that make you a better and more insightful person. … This book is a gold mine of information that can help guide the future force."
Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Salem
Fire support NCO, 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group
"Becoming a Person of Influence: How to Positively Impact the Lives of Others" by John C. Maxwell
"I picked up this book as a junior E-7 thinking it was a book on control, dissecting others in order to influence them. What I found is that influence comes from me and my actions, not others. A very powerful lesson."
Sgt. Maj. Jerry Ramsey
Army National Guard liaison sergeant major, 30th Adjutant General Reception Battalion
"You Win in the Locker Room First: The 7 C's to Build a Winning Team in Business, Sports and Life" by Jon Gordon and Mike Smith
"This book describes how two great coaches transformed a mediocre Atlanta Falcons football team into a great one, and in the process shows how leaders can transform their own organizations using the same principles the two men applied to the team."
Sgt. Stephanie Fematt
Logistics noncommissioned officer in charge, Kirk U.S. Army Health Clinic
"The Cuckoo's Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage" by Cliff Stoll
"Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion, and Promoting Terrorism" by retired Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa and Ronald J. Rychlak
"Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun" by Wess Roberts
"Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia" by Ahmed Rashid
Stoll's book "provides a great example of how curiosity and ingenuity from an individual can have an international impact."
Pacepa, the highest ranking Soviet bloc intelligence official to defect during the Cold War, provides insight to "the tricks that some governments still use to lie to the world."
Roberts' book is an "easy, quick read and is surprisingly still relevant today."
About Rashid's book: "If you want to know why things are the way they are in that part of the world, then this book will blow your mind."
1st Lt. Matthew Polek
3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division
"Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History" by S.C. Gwynne
"This is a history of the 200-year dominance of the Comanche from western Oklahoma through Texas to Santa Fe and down to Mexico. Training, tactics and strategy are all examined as the Comanche were the only tribe to roll back the tide of European settlement. This should be required reading, just like 'The Art of War,' for cavalry troops and their support."
Retired Col. Lynn DeNooyer
"Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln" by Doris Kearns Goodwin
"The author gives readers unique insights into how a 'prairie lawyer from Illinois could incorporate his [so-called] enemies into a presidential cabinet' that was very successful. It gives readers facts into Lincoln's application of leadership styles to best fit events and personalities."
Retired Col. Martin Preston