Shelton: Leadership in military, business world similar

Posted September 15, 2010 6:08 p.m. EDT

— Since leaving the military eight years ago, retired Army Gen. Hugh Shelton has taught, led seminars and served on corporate boards.

Recently named chairman of Raleigh-based software developer Red Hat Inc., Shelton says moving from the military to the business world involves a different uniform but not a change in strategy.

"If you look at what bad leadership does in the corporate world, it affects lives as well," he said Wednesday. "If you look at Enron and what it did to families and individuals that lost everything, it was pretty devastating."

Shelton said he has no regrets in his long and distinguished military career, which included stints in charge of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg and the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington, D.C. He said he simply made decisions – sometimes very tough decisions – based on what he felt was right.

"The thing that I really don't miss, to be very candid, is for 22 years I had a beeper. Today, we'd call it a cell phone," he said with a laugh.

He said he believes in the ongoing missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, but he expressed concern about political pressures brought on their decision-making.

"When I see the joint chiefs, as an example, and their chairman separated on particular issues, that bothers me because I know there's something wrong in this process and that maybe we ought to back up a little bit and re-look (at) the situation," he said. "Sometimes, I'm very thankful that I'm not in that position right now."