Richard Armitage was the 13th United States Deputy Secretary of State, serving from 2001 to 2005. He served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War and then after the fall of Saigon moved to Washington D.C. to work as a consultant for the United States Department of Defense, which sent him to Tehran and Bangkok.
Throughout the late 70s and early 80s, Armitage worked as an aide and foreign policy advisor to politicians including Senator Bob Dole and President-elect Ronald Reagan. When Reagan was elected, Armitage was appointed to the Department of Defense. In the 1990s, Armitage worked in the private sector before being confirmed as Deputy Secretary of State with the election of George W. Bush in 2001. He left the post in 2005.
Armitage was educated at the United States Naval Academy. He is an avid bodybuilder, and speaks many languages, including Vietnamese.
Question: What makes a great leader?
Armitage: I think there are three things. First of all to be a great leader you have to have vision. And following vision you have to have execution. And following execution you have to have accountability. If you lack all three, or any of the three, you cannot be a confident leader.
Question: Who are today’s great leaders?
Armitage: Well I think first of all, there’s no question that Colin L. Powell is the most noteworthy leader with whom I’ve ever dealt and ever worked. I’ve known a number of good leaders in the Department of State recently. One by the name of Elizabeth __________; Marc Grossman, our Undersecretary. These are folks that have a vision. They also have the ability to execute and then to hold people accountable. And I think through it all, a good leader has to have some element of compassion, and those folks certainly do.
There are younger members on Capitol Hill that look as if they will be good leaders at some time. I think they’re a little young. Some of them are a little young at present, but I have hope that we’ll be growing some of these fellows. You’ve seen a John Edwards who is not of my political party, but he’s a young, pretty well intentioned, dynamic fellow.