SLA's Purpose and Mission

SLA's purpose is to help small businesses and nonprofits thrive. We serve those who are helping others. We do this through Coaching, Workshops, and highly customized Consulting services.

Our Mission: Strategic Leaders Academy provides small businesses and nonprofits the tools to get the BiG things right: Leadership, Culture, & Strategy.

Our leaders are retired military professionals who have led distinguished careers in one of the world's most trustworthy and effective organizations. We bring cost-effective, Fortune 500-level thinking to your team.

We’ve learned powerful leadership wisdom through hard work and sacrifice. We fought for our country. Now, we fight for your team.

You can count on us.

How SLA started

On a mountainside in Afghanistan after a deadly firefight. Two of my soldiers were killed – to include a brilliant and beloved company commander – and a dozen wounded. That was 2007. Not a day goes by that I do not think of these paratroopers – these heroes – and their families.

I recognized then that all of our assumptions about the area were flat wrong. We needed to unlearn a lot of flawed ideas, diagnose the nature of the situation, and develop a winning strategy. We had 13 months to go.

We engaged everyone in the unit, from junior troopers and leaders to our senior leader team, our Afghan counterparts, local elders, and as much as we could read about that remote area of Afghanistan. We developed a highly unconventional – and controversial approach. One that received a lot of pushback from outside … until they saw it working. Two years later, this approach become expected practice for all units in Afghanistan.

What made this work was the leader development and team building we had done in the two years prior to deployment. This included reading, creating a culture for candid conversations and exchange of ideas, realistic training, tough and imaginative crucibles, and using old battlefields as classrooms to discuss new ideas and current challenges.

These shared experiences created a group of leaders with Radical Courage -- they had the four main kinds of courage leaders need: physical, moral, emotional. and intellectual. Radical Courage enabled us to learn and adapt effectively in a dynamic and dangerous environment. That unit became the only one in the 17-year conflict to have motivated a major insurgent group to stop fighting and to eventually join the government. I have now met with my former adversary 10 times. His story is fascinating.


Those outcomes led to service with three 4-star generals in Afghanistan and being senior adviser to the #3 person in the Pentagon. I learned so much from these extraordinary leaders, who are mentors to this day.


These exceptional personal experiences, 30 years of practice leading people in tough, ambiguous, high-risk situations, and deep research for my book Leadership: The Warrior's Art and PhD on US policy and strategy for post 9/11 wars has led to the conclusion that great organizations do three things well: Leadership, Culture, and Strategy. Leaders with Radical Courage get these BiG things right.


To simplify, we use GUTS.

GUTS has a threefold meaning:

A synonym for Radical Courage
A metaphor for middle management
A memory aid: Greatness = U (your leadership credibility) x T (teams in a thriving organizational culture) x S (strategy for to compete and win).

Next, I wanted this body of expert knowledge to help people. Specifically, I wanted to help people who are helping people. This is what drives our focus on small businesses and nonprofits.
Small businesses and nonprofits are where the big ideas come from that change the lives of people for the better -- products, services, crisis relief, advocacy, protecting the most vulnerable -- their missions are inspiring. We want to help them maximize their impact by getting the BiG things right.

Finally, we wanted to create a franchise of retired military professionals. These self-starters are ideal coaches and consultants for small businesses and nonprofits. They are highly educated (most have advance degrees) and experienced. They bring a spirit of service, a dedication to duty, and a commitment to excellence. They have led soldiers in combat, persevered in trying and often deadly circumstances, and served at the highest levels of one of the world's most amazing organizations. They are resilient. They bring Fortune 500-level thinking, cost-effectively, to your organization.
We fought for our country ... now we fight for you and your cause.

This is why SLA was born.