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4-3-2-1 Leadership

What America’s Sons and Daughters Taught Me On My Way from Second Lieutenant to Two-Star General

Vincent E. Boles
4-3-2-1 Leadership

About the Book

In 1976, armed with a college degree and a commission as an Army 2nd Lieutenant, Vinny Boles began his leadership journey. After 33 years of service, he has distilled this experience into his book, 4-3-2-1 Leadership: What America’s Sons & Daughters Taught Me on the Road From 2nd Lieutenant to Two Star General.

A great article on the book from Skip Vaughn at The Redstone Rocket:

If you’d told Vincent Boles six years ago that he’d be doing what he’s doing these days, he’d have told you that you were crazy.

The retired major general has written his first book on leadership.

Boles, who served as the Army’s 33rd chief of Ordnance during his 33-year career, retired in 2009 and moved to Huntsville. He does community service, consulting, public speaking, and teaching as an adjunct professor at the Defense Acquisition University. He has a company in town called Vincent E. Boles Inc.

But he never envisioned sitting down and writing in detail like he has for the past year.
“It is the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” the combat veteran said. “When I was in the Army, I got judged by what I got other people to do. There’s nobody on the other end of this pen but me.”

“I believe leadership is about your best getting better. Is your best good enough for the situation you’re in or is your best getting better?” Boles said. “I talk about 10 tools you can use to ensure your best gets better.”

The numbers in his countdown – 4-3-2-1 – add up to 10. The 4 refers to the four expectations your subordinates have of you as a leader. The 3 refers to the three questions to ask and answer before you send your subordinates out to do something. The 2 represents the two reasons for stress in an organization. And the 1 means how do you build trust.

“It’s been a lot of fun. It’s been a labor of love,” Boles, 58, said of his work.

The New York City native is the oldest of four sons of Irish Catholic immigrants. During his Army career, he was selected for brigadier general in 2000 and his first assignment as a one-star was working at the Army Materiel Command as the deputy chief of staff for ammunition. He did that for one year. Six weeks before Sept. 11, 2001, he was assigned to Rock Island (Ill.) Arsenal to lead the then Field Support Command, now called the Army Sustainment Command, under AMC. He served in that assignment from July 2001 until January 2003. Next he was sent forward to Kuwait to prepare for Operation Iraqi Freedom’s invasion of Iraq. In July 2003, he joined the 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command in Iraq for a year. He was selected for major general in 2004 and served as the Army’s chief of Ordnance from 2004-06.

From 2006-09, Boles served as the assistant deputy chief of staff for logistics on the Army staff at the Pentagon. After that three years, he moved to Huntsville in October 2009. In 2011, Boles was inducted in both the Niagara University ROTC and Army Ordnance Corps halls of fame.

“Leadership is not a solo event, it is a team sport,” Boles said. “And in the Army it’s a team sport at the highest level. And I was truly fortunate to have great teammates in every one of these 33 years.”

He and his wife, Cheryl, celebrated their 36th wedding anniversary July 23. They have six godchildren.

Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-61343-034-7

eBook ISBN: 978-1-61343-035-4

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