Inside Rensselaer
Lally Hosts General Peter Pace Lecture on Business and
Military Leadership
On Feb. 8, the Lally School welcomed General Peter Pace, USMC (Ret.), as a Distinguished Visiting Scholar. General Pace, who served as 16th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met with MBA and M.S. students in the course Managing on the Edge to discuss the topic of “Leadership: Comparing Military to Business.”

General Peter Pace, USMC (Ret.), visited Rensselaer recently to meet with Lally students. While on campus, he also met with members of the Naval ROTC unit.

General Pace emphasized that, as future business leaders, students will need to maintain a sense of ethics in their careers: “I have been challenged more ethically and morally since I’ve been in the corporate world than in my 44 years in the military — it all has to do with money,” he said. In troubled economic times, he added, “People will be looking to you for ‘back to basics’ leadership — how to make decent profits forever, rather than obscene profits for an unsustainable period.”

General Pace believes that the same leadership skills are needed in both military and corporate contexts, and he highlighted the principles that helped guide his career and leadership development:
  • Choose the kind of organizational culture where you want to work.
  • “Grow where you’re planted” — do the jobs you’re given, even if you don’t want them, because they will help you grow in ways you don’t expect.
  • “You’re the leader, make the decisions. You’re going to make some mistakes…if you’re not pushing the envelope, you’re standing still.”
  • Act with courage. It takes courage to express a different point of view from peers and bosses.
  • Keep your moral compass. You will be tested in your moral foundation when you are least prepared to deal with it. Give yourself the opportunity to think.
  • Maintain your integrity. Stay focused and deliver on your promises.
  • Each of us is a leader. Take care of those in your charge.

In addition to talking with MBA/M.S. students, the general met in a small, informal session with Lally faculty and staff. He also met with midshipmen and officers of Rensselaer’s Naval ROTC unit, where his remarks focused on technological changes in the military and on the special requirements of leadership and command.

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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 4, Number 4, March 5, 2010
©2010 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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