Retired Lieutenant General discusses leadership during challenging times

Retired Lieutenant General Mary Legere joins Aileen Black on this week's Leaders and Legends to share the leadership lessons she learned during her long militar...

Retired Lt. Gen. Mary Legere joins Leaders and Legends and to share the lessons she learned in tough leadership roles.

Legere spent 34 years in the Army, culminating as the Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, or G2. She also served as the Commander of the Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) and a Senior Military Intelligence Officer in Iraq and the Republic of Korea.

Legere currently works as a managing director at Accenture Federal Services, where she works to bring Accenture’s global secure digital, mission analytics and agile development capabilities to U.S. national defense, intelligence and cyber clients. She supports strategic IT planning for federal intelligence and defense organizations, with an emphasis on open-source intelligence, mission analytics and agile development and digital supply chain strategy.

Described by subordinates as an “infectiously enthusiastic leader,” Legere says her leadership style  evolved over time. She says that as her career developed, she learned to be collaborative and engaging, because she needed to “trust others to get the mission done.”

Legere admitted that she sets high standards for her team but worked to bring out the best in everyone because “leaders don’t get much done without the people around them.”

It’s a lesson she learned during a long career in the military which she called a “leadership lab.” That’s because the military takes young people and puts them into situations where they are leading  everything from small groups to large organizations.

“You learn on the job. Quickly, you learn the value in training others so you can trust each other in the field.  Development and training of your team is key. The military is the greatest leadership academy.”

Legere also believes that education and training are the keys to creating a positive culture in your organization.

“If your culture doesn’t believe in your goal you won’t be successful. I have seen brilliant strategies fail by not paying attention to culture,” she said.

According to Legere something as simple as girl scout cookies can help leaders create a positive and collaborative working culture.  Americans send cases of the cookies to the troops in Iraq and during an 18 month tour there, Legere would always bring girl scout cookies to her senior staff meetings.  They met every Sunday to discuss what was happening in intelligence and work on reports to be presented to leadership.

She says the cookies were a big hit and played and important role because, “keeping people happy and fed is important to keeping them creative  in solving big problems.”

Finally, Legere encouraged the next generation of leaders to go into new roles and challenges with confidence.

“Work to be well prepared.  When given a new opportunity or challenge I work hard to really be prepared to have that confidence. I learned I needed this frame of mind to take on new challenges. I then work hard, go in  prepared and quickly look for ways to fill the gaps,” she said.


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