UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School


Rear Admiral uses lessons from UNC Kenan-Flagler for worldwide military planning


As Chief of Staff for Strategic Plans and Policy at the U.S. Defense Department’s Joint Staff, Rear Admiral Joe Leidig Jr. participates in the strategic planning and development of military policy worldwide.

Leidig, who completed the Navy’s Executive Business Course taught by UNC Kenan-Flagler Executive Development in 2005, said he has used the strategy and tactics he learned through the course in several leadership positions with the Navy since then.

“As a line officer, the course provided a very strong foundation for developing a sense of how to ask the right questions in a business environment,” Leidig said. “It also challenged my thought process on how to approach problem solving in a large organization.”

When he attended the course, he was a Navy Captain. Four months after he completed the course, Leidig was promoted to admiral, and his first assignment was as commander of Naval forces stationed on Guam.

He likens some of his management responsibilities on Guam to those of a mayor. The Navy produced its own electrical power, treated its own water, and ran its own schools systems in additional to operating a naval port and airfield on Guam.

In addition, the Navy was running small businesses inlcuding a restaurant, a dive shop and a golf course. Several of those were losing money.

“The course gave me some great ideas on how to approach business solutions,” he added.

For example, through the course Leidig learned of the importance of metrics in understanding any line of operation in a business.

“You have to pick three to five metrics that are really important to the business. I put a lot of emphasis on metrics. When someone told me the golf course was losing money I demanded to see the metrics.”

As a result, Leidig was able to lead the restaurant and golf course from business losing money to those that were generating a profit, he noted.

“The course helped me learn to ask questions about inventory control,” he noted. “In every case, asking a few pointed questions allowed me to uncover problems and work with the leaders to turn the businesses around.”

Leidig also applied other principles from the course to leading the 20,000 personnel on Guam. For example, he found that by tapping the principles associated with making sure to understand what customers want that he was able to improve the satisfaction of the 4,000 families who lived in military housing on Guam.

“We were able to save money by improving processes and taking the return on our investment to improve the product we deliver to the customers,” he said. “The most value to me from the program at UNC Kenan-Flagler was to hear people outside the Navy and how they applied the use of metrics, leadership and management theories in business. I have a very good understanding of the questions to ask related to any of the business aspects of the military.”