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Free-Lancing: Leadership in the 21st Century

    Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré (U.S. Army, retired) has a new book out that is sure to raise some eyebrows as it addresses ways to make this world a better place in which to live – at home and abroad.

    Now the book, titled Leadership in the New Normal (Acadian House, $16.95), may not sound like a book on social conscience and responsibility. But sprinkled among the practical lessons on how to be an effective leader are observations on topics such as the immeasurable value of good parenting and the virtue of helping poorer countries develop at a quicker pace.

    You’ll remember Gen. Honoré as the three-star general who burst upon the national scene when New Orleans was in dire straits following Hurricane Katrina. He was the commander of Joint Task Force Katrina and was in charge of the massive search-and-rescue mission and the restoration of order in New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast following the terrible storm.

    And in the course of doing his job there, he showed the world what authentic leadership looks like.

    Gen. Honoré is an Acadiana native, having grown up on a farm in Pointe Coupee Parish with 11 siblings. He now lives in Baton Rouge with his wife, Beverly. He spent 37 years in the service of our country, and he continues to serve in a number of other ways. He thinks of “giving back” as an essential part of patriotism. So, nowadays he is an active public speaker, business consultant, senior scientist for the Gallup Organization and CNN contributor on topics related to disaster preparedness.

    Having been an Army commander of missions on five continents, not surprisingly he makes some bold and insightful statements that will cause reasonable people to sit up and take notice. He predicts, as others have, that the next wars will be fought over water, not oil. He points out that a society that essentially predestines some of its children to a life in prison – via the “Cradle-to-Prison Pipeline” – is a sick society that needs to examine its collective social conscience and get to work immediately to address this American tragedy. He praises the Children’s Defense Fund, or  CDF, for the leadership role it has taken toward curbing this stunning reality of life in the U.S.

      CDF, by the way, isn’t only bemoaning the awful fate that has befallen so many African-American and Hispanic children. They’re doing something about it: Some 90,000 of our children in at least 25 states have benefitted from summer CDF Freedom Schools, which involve reading and community service enrichment activities.

     On the global front, Gen. Honoré advocates making more of an effort to help turn “have-nots” into “haves” – a subject that seems to be close to his heart – not only locally but also nationally and internationally.  He suggests that such a movement would be good for national security: “People who can feed their families and feel like they’re getting somewhere in life are less dangerous people.”

      In a special chapter on the importance of leadership at home, he writes: “A family is a team, and teams need leaders” – that is, parents who are devoted to parenting and teaching their children.

    Readers will get a good idea of the wisdom and richness of the book when they read on the dust jacket a telling comment – a complimentary blurb – offered by the CEO of the Gallup Organization, Jim Clifton: “I had forgotten how much more famous retired generals know about the future of civilization than diplomats, academics and politicians.”

    Signed copies of the book, Leadership in the New Normal, can be obtained online at www.acadianhouse.com.

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