Author Shares Leadership Lessons From Lifetime of Service

Author Shares Leadership Lessons From Lifetime of Service

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Leadership is the essential component of any successful Army career, from the squad level to the Pentagon, in garrison or in battle. And the best way to be an effective leader is to learn from those who have gone before.

Colonel R.D. Hooker, Jr., served over thirty years in the post-Vietnam Army, commanding at company, battalion, and brigade level, in units around the world. He also served in the offices of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Secretary of the Army, and Chief of Staff of the Army, as well as on the National Security Council.

In The High Ground: Leading in Peace and War, he draws on his experiences to illustrate the key leadership principles. This collection of essays is the latest title in the AUSA Book Program

The AUSA Book Program sat down with Colonel Hooker to discuss how to be an effective leader.


AUSA: At the start of your Army career, what lessons did you learn from your platoon sergeant? 

Hooker: 1) show a unified front in front of the soldiers; 2) ask if you don’t know; 3) always be there when the troops are asked to do something tough or unpleasant; 4) work through not around your NCOs; 5) never lose your temper and use humor in tight spots.

AUSA: How can a leader maintain effective discipline?

Hooker: The best discipline is bottom up as well as top down. Correct small things on the spot so they don’t grow into big things. Work to build a culture so that we all look out for each other, and care enough not to bring discredit on the organization. Leaders must model and observe every behavior demanded of soldiers.

AUSA: How can a leader avoid the common pitfall of micromanagement?

Hooker: Give broad guidance and spot check. Allow subordinates the freedom to exercise discretion within your intent. Be prepared to underwrite their honest mistakes – that’s how they learn and grow.

AUSA: What common traits do you find among effective leaders?

Hooker: Love of soldiers; commitment and dedication; the ability to make good decisions under stress; technical and tactical proficiency; physical and moral courage.

AUSA: You end the book with a moving tribute to your father, who also served the nation as an Army officer. Would you share some of the advice he offered you over the years?

Hooker: Don’t shy away from the hard stuff; be ready to make thoughtful decisions and accept the consequences; commit to the mission and to your troops; know your job thoroughly; and always fight to go down range!


To order a copy of The High Ground, please visit