Retired Gen. Joulwan Shares His Leadership Secrets

Retired Gen. Joulwan Shares His Leadership Secrets

Watchman at the gate book
Photo by: Courtesy

A retired four-star general whose career spanned from Vietnam to the White House is sharing the secrets behind his success in leading soldiers, allies and enemies alike in his soon-to-be-published book.

“There are 36 years of experience in this book,” retired Gen. George Joulwan, author of Watchman at the Gates: A Soldier’s Journey From Berlin to Bosnia, said April 20 during the Association of the U.S. Army’s Thought Leaders webinar.

In Watchman at the Gates, Joulwan brings memories and leadership lessons together as he tells readers of his long and extraordinary career, his role in pivotal moments in history, and the people who taught, inspired and worked alongside him.

In the memoir-style book, readers get a glimpse of Joulwan’s relationships with major figures—including multiple U.S. presidents and Gens. William DePuy, Alexander Haig, John Vessey and Colin Powell—and his leadership style.

Following two tours in Vietnam and multiple tours in Germany during the Cold War, Joulwan served as the White House deputy chief of staff under President Richard Nixon. 

Joulwan would serve in the top ranks of the military, including as head of U.S. Southern Command and supreme allied commander of NATO forces in Europe.

Throughout his career, he focused on setting “conditions for success,” he said. In every situation he was presented, his question always remained the same: What is the mission? 

“If you can deter a fight, rather than fight one—deter it,” said Joulwan, who faced many pivotal moments in history, including the Rwandan genocide and peacekeeping missions in Bosnia in the 1990s.

Whether he was leading subordinates or conducting peaceful dealings, Joulwan worked hard to foster trust and build relationships, which proved crucial in his effectiveness as a leader, he said. 

Watchman at the Gates, which will be published on May 25, is available for purchase here.