Brigadier General Armfield and Lieutenant General Fister have written an excellent primer that answers the basic question, “What are the characteristics of leadership?” What separates this book from many others on the topic of leadership is that the authors use personal military experience to demonstrate the essential characteristics of leadership. They have taken the research on leadership and put it into practice to demonstrate how the research is applied in their day-to-day lives in the military.

The early chapters deal with the building blocks of leadership: character, trust and understanding the culture that surrounds you. The chapter on “culture” stands out since many individuals in leadership positions understand the importance of character, trust and having a moral compass, but if they do not understand the culture that they are dealing with, the chances of success are minimum. The authors point out the importance of understanding that one size doesn’t fit all. Leaders need to adapt to the culture that surrounds them and not the other way around.

The next few chapters deal with roles and responsibilities. To be a successful leader, it is certainly important to have a vision and a plan, but what is equally important is to be able to empower individuals to carry out the plan based on the vision. Again, the authors illustrate the right way to empower individuals through thoughtful communication, delegation and feedback. What stands out in these chapters is the understanding that trust goes both ways. Subordinates need to trust their leaders but more importantly, leaders need to trust their subordinates. Otherwise, the plan will fail no matter how much thought has gone into it.

The final chapters stress an extremely important message about leadership: Leadership is not stagnant; it is always evolving. Great leaders are always learning by using past successes and failures to do better in the next crisis that they face. Each new crisis requires that leaders understand the situation and how it is similar and different to other crises. Adaptation is key. Being able to evolve as leaders and bringing individuals along with you in this evolution will be the way to meet new challenges.

By combining the basic characteristics of leadership with real-life experiences, Armfield and Fister have written a comprehensive primer on leadership in the 21st century.


Philip P. DiStefano


University of Colorado, Boulder

“I have served in numerous leadership positions as an Army officer and as a civilian consultant in the defense industry. LEAD TO SERVE is the book that I would recommend to any person in any profession who wants to take on the responsibility of serving people as their leader. We need real leadership in our nation today, and this is exactly the book for those wanting to serve others in that capacity.”

General Gary E. Luck

US Army Retired

When reading a book on leadership, I am constantly looking for that “nugget”…that “shiny penny”…that idea which is, if not new to me, presented in a different light. Lead to Serve and Serve to Lead…Leading Well in Turbulent Times provided me with a pocket full of pennies. Authored by two Servant Leaders, each chapter starts with what the Military calls, “BLUF”. . . Bottom Line, Up Front. You get the summary and key points before you finish the first page, which for me, drove me to dive deeper into the chapter to discover what hidden gems were to be found. Many were found! Having served as the Commandant of the Marine Corps, the Chairman and CEO of an International Bank, and as a College President, I have been in many tough leadership situations. I wish I had read this book before each of those situations. I highly recommend it!

General Charles C. Krulak

US Marine Corps (Ret.)

31st Commandant of the Marine Corps

After a twelve-year term as the first female managing partner of Weston-Hurd, LLP, a Cleveland Ohio law firm, Lead to Serve provided practical and thoughtful insight into how to cultivate your team so that they believe in you, are loyal to you, and are proud to execute your decisions. Bruce and Gwyn “walk the talk” and have shared experiences illustrative of evolving as a leader. I wish I would have had this handbook before I became a managing partner.

Carolyn M. Cappel

Ohio Super Lawyers


Top 50 Women in Ohio

Based upon their ranks and military accolades, Generals Armfield and Fister have decades of leadership experience. But I was highly suspicious it would have limited applicability to my life and leadership in the non-military sector. I could not have been more wrong. This is a masterful guide for anyone aspiring to become an effective, encouraging, enduring leader. Lead to Serve is one of the very best books I’ve ever read on leadership. I could not recommend it more highly. It is a must read for your leadership journey.

Walt Larimore, MD

Marquis Who’s Who in America Lifetime Achievement Award International Health Professionals of the Year, Distinguished Physicians of America

Amazon #1 best-selling author

Where was this book 33 years ago? As a former Professional Bull Rider turned Naval Aviator, I sure could have used it! Having led large organizations in the Navy and currently serving as the President and COO of a diverse and geographically dispersed company, I continue to value the advice of experienced mentors to navigate demanding situations. “Lead to Serve and Serve to Lead… Leading Well in Turbulent Times” is a treasure trove of experiences and lessons learned from two proven leaders. Whether your leadership opportunities find you in the military or civilian life, every chapter of this captivating read contains pearls of wisdom to aid when making difficult leadership decisions. This book puts experience and wisdom at your fingertips! IRON SHARPENS IRON. Enjoy!

Todd M. Watkins

President, The Kent Companies

New iPad Lead to Serve

Lead to Serve and Serve to Lead


Brigadier General Gwyn Armfield, USAF, Retired


Bruce L. Fister Lieutenant General, USAF, Retired

is now available on Amazon.