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Six Characteristics of High-Performance Teams
  • ISBN/SKU: 9781612512174
  • Binding: Hardcover & eBook
  • Era: 21st Century
  • Number of Pages: 184
  • Subject: Leadership
  • Date Available: May 2013
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“I can think of no better lens on leadership than the lessons of Adm. Jim Stockdale and how he built a sustainable high-performance culture in the most extreme circumstances. Stockdale epitomized the very highest levels of integrity, honor, discipline, and love; I continually draw strength, resilience, and practical guidance from his inspired example. Learn his lessons, employ them, and you will be better.”

Jim Collins, author or coauthor of six books, including international bestsellers Good to Great, Built to Last, and How the Mighty Fall


BOOK NEWS: Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton: Six Characteristics of High Performance Teams by Naval Institute Press

Why were the American POWs imprisoned at the “Hanoi Hilton” so resilient in captivity and so successful in their subsequent careers? This book presents six principles practiced within the POW organizational culture that can be used to develop high-performance teams everywhere. The authors offer examples from both the POWs’ time in captivity and their later professional lives that identify, in real-life situations, the characteristics necessary for sustainable, high-performance teamwork. The book takes readers inside the mind of James Stockdale, a fighter pilot with a degree in philosophy, who was the senior ranking officer at the Hanoi prison. The theories Stockdale practiced become readily understandable in this book. Drawing parallels between Stockdale’s guiding philosophies from the Stoic Epictetus and the principles of modern sports psychology, Peter Fretwell and Taylor Baldwin Kiland show readers how to apply these principles to their own organizations and create a culture with staying power.

Originally intending their book to focus on Stockdale’s leadership style, the authors found that his approach toward completing a mission was to assure that it could be accomplished without him.  Stockdale, they explain, had created a mission-centric organization, not a leader-centric organization. He had understood that a truly sustainable culture must not be dependent on a single individual. 

At one level, this book is a business school case study. It is also an examination of how leadership and organizational principles employed in the crucible of a Hanoi prison align with today’s sports psychology and modern psychological theories and therapies, as well as the training principles used by Olympic athletes and Navy SEALs.  Any group willing to apply these principles can move their mission forward and create a culture with staying power—one that outlives individual members.

Peter Fretwell is the general manager of The Classical Network, based in New Jersey.  During his MBA studies in strategic leadership, he became convinced the lessons the POWs brought home could benefit other organizations and spent more than seven years researching the topic. He lives in Robbinsville, NJ. Taylor Baldwin Kiland, a former naval officer, is a management consultant with a large technology and strategy consulting firm and lives in Alexandria, Virginia. She is the author or coauthor of three books, including Open Doors: Vietnam POWs Thirty Years Later.

SNEAK PEEK: Lessons From the Hanoi Hilton: Six Characteristics of High-Performance Teams by Naval Institute Press

Follow Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton on:

~ Praise for Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton ~

"An invaluable advice book especially for any newly promoted businessperson."

The Midwest Book Review

"Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton is a sage and valuable tool for those searching for guidance to excellent personal and professional performance."

Veterans Law Journal

"'Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton' is a fascinating book and one which I commend.  However, it must be recognised for what it is - a hypothesis on the essential qualities of leadership and teamwork, drawing on the personal experiences of some very courageous and admirable men.  It is not just an account of the men themselves, which may arguably be even more inspiring."

The Naval Review (UK)

"Should be read by all current-day servicemen and women at risk of capture."

Australian Defence Force Journal

“In addition to the co-authors’ combined qualifications, including meticulous research and writing in a lucid, easy-to-grasp narrative style, Lessons From the Hanoi Hilton is a tome, the forerunner of future research into the nature of un­yielding courage and its application to strategic leadership principles.”


“What is your ‘tap code’? Any leader or organization should ask that question about the way they communicate. Peter Fretwell and Taylor Kiland lay this out for us as they describe the leadership characteristics of true American heroes. Honor and mission focus should be embedded in everyone’s ‘tap code.’”

Vice Adm. Cutler Dawson, USN (Ret.), president/CEO of Navy Federal Credit Union

“I have had experience in a range of public and private sector organizations. In every case a handful of leadership qualities were critical to the success of the organization, and the qualities displayed by the POWs were similar: culture, sustained focus, teamwork, adaptability, and communication. These qualities were evident in the Hanoi Hilton and integral to high-performing commercial organizations everywhere.”

Philip Odeen, former CEO of TRW and member of the board of directors of AES Corporation and Booz Allen Hamilton

Customer Reviews
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Average Customer Reviews
5.00 Stars
Incredible Insights into Building a Sustainable Corporate Culture
Monday, May 6, 2013
By: Mike Hatcher
In an era where markets demand agility, flexibility, innovation, and adaptability while aggressively driving efficiency, cost reduction and continual margin expansion, the ability to create, sustain, and propagate a “we can do anything with almost nothing” mission-driven culture is the leadership challenge of our times. How do you maintain an organizational identity when annual employee attrition is 15% or more – meaning every three years more than 50% of your workforce is new to your organization? In times when extreme budget austerity and figuring out “how to do much more with lots less” are indelible realities, how do you get employees to go “all in” in support of your mission and objectives? Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton – and the amazing examples from an extraordinary group of men imprisoned as much as fifty years ago – provides a practical road-map of the six characteristics that can help any organization – public, private, military, non-profit – to achieve greatness through an extensible, resilient culture. Lessons can help you unlock the power of the Stockdale leadership philosophy - and make it relevant in today's world. An absolute must read!


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