M6 Leadership Spotlight: Jon Campbell

M6 Leadership Spotlight: Jon Campbell

M6’s Leadership Spotlight Series continues. In this series, we’re profiling the talent we have the privilege of working with and for. This edition features Colonel Jon Campbell, U.S. Army (Retired), who is a member of our Advisory Board. Read more about COL Campbell’s experience and his role at M6 here.

Who do you admire as a leader – past or present – and why? 

I had a battalion commander named Lynn Moore. He had been an All American at West Point, and was probably the most proficient person in the field I have ever met. While I learned a lot from him, what I really learned from him was how to motivate and lead. 

There’s a fundamental difference between leadership and management. Some people think they’re interchangeable and they’re not. Leaders set a vision. They inspire. They motivate. Managers usually achieve a goal set by somebody else. Lynn had the ability to set the standards, set the goals, and achieve them. He would tell us what was expected and then let us do it. And I just think the world of him.  

What, in your opinion, is the best way to determine if someone’s a good leader?  

Leader observation: it’s deeds, not words. One of my favorite sayings is ‘Say what you’re going to do and do what you say.’ If you can’t do that, then just get out of the way. Leaders need to set an expectation, manage the expectation, and then exceed the expectation.  

What quality do you value most in the people you work with?  

Clear and simple: trust. And then shortly thereafter: integrity. If I can’t trust you to do what you said you’d do, I don’t need you. And, if I don’t believe that you’re going to do something the right way, although it may not be the easiest way, I don’t need you. All you have is your reputation and integrity. When you lose one of those, you’re done.  

What professional experience did you learn the most from?

As a colonel, I served on a very high level staff where I had access to and responsibilities for the very senior leadership of the Army. This experience allowed me to see the Army as a business, it opened my eyes to the business world, and it gave me a much broader understanding of the Army.

What assignments helped you to develop as a professional?

My time at U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and within SOCOM organizations was important. There, what rank you held was not as important as what job you were in; the one you were entrusted with. It’s an organization that’s allowed to pick who they want, keep who they want, and cull those that they don’t want or trust. That situation can be hard for people that grow up in the mainstream Army, but I loved it. Being there allowed me greater flexibility in getting to ‘Yes’ and getting a job done. Before then, I had vast experience with allowing people to tell me no. And, today, I just don’t accept a ‘No.’ We’ll get to ‘Yes.’ I understand the gray far better because of this experience than I did as in an Airborne Infantryman, where everything is black and white.  

When you were integrated into different teams, what did you do to demonstrate that you would be an asset?  

I took on the responsibility. I don’t hide from responsibility.  

Are there any career decisions that you made that with more experience you would’ve done differently?  

I’m a believer in if you just play the hands you’re dealt the best you can everything will be okay. The most important job you have in the Army is the one you’re trying to execute now. And that goes with anything in life. If you’re constantly looking for the next brighter and better thing, you can’t achieve what you’re working on at that time. 

How has the nature of military service changed throughout your career?  

Outside of the military, I think the instant age of news has caused leaders to be more cautious. As a fan of history, I’ve spent a lot of time reading accounts from World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and then I lived everything after that except for Grenada. Mistakes are made in combat. Sometimes, unfortunately, stuff happens. But, now, the likelihood of it appearing on CNN or Fox News within hours – not days, weeks, or months – is higher. With satellite imagery, there’s an instant – and sometimes out-of-context – judgment made about a decision somebody on the ground made that may not have been the best but it was one made with the information they had to go on at the moment. So, knowing this happens, sometimes decision-making is impacted.

What are you bringing from your military experience to your work with M6?  

I understand processes and who’s in the zoo. While the animals may change, the cages don’t necessarily change. I understand the ‘how’ at the tactical level and the ‘why’ at the strategic level. And, I can focus on decision makers and usually work to get to ‘yes’ without wasting a whole lot of time and energy on gatekeepers that really don’t have the authority they present.  

What does the concept of ‘Warriors First’ mean to you?  

M6 is an organization that provides services contracts to the DoD. Those services have a real purpose. There is somebody at the end of that spear that needs whatever we’re doing to potentially keep them alive. When you lose focus of that and focus on a bottom line number or maybe not doing what’s right but doing what’s more profitable, you fail the soldier. And that’s not what M6 in my mind wants to do.  

Is there anything else the M6 community and its partners should know about you?  

I’m here to help. My ego days are long over. I’ll sweep floors if it brings the greater good.  


What’s the best title you’ve ever had – personal or professional?

Company commander, dad, and grandaddy. 

What’s the best location you were stationed or a place you’d wanna be stationed if you had the choice?  

Fort Liberty, which is now the epicenter of the world if you ask most infantry people.  

What can we find you doing in your free time?  

Golfing, fishing, and just being outside for sure.  

What’s your go-to news source?  

X (Twitter) for finding things out instantly. I read the local paper religiously every morning and something called the Early Bird from Defense News, which is a round-up of the day’s most important military and defense-industry stories. I also look at a lot of national sources as well.  

Are there any books or movies that you’ve watched lately that you think are amazing that you wanna tell people about?  

My wife and I watched Boys on the Boat recently and really enjoyed it. 

Who would you most like to have dinner with or be stuck on a desert island with?  

Growing up I idolized General MacArthur. I read everything I could about him, and I really, really wanted to be in the U.S. Navy and serve in the South Pacific. I went to the Citadel. I was in the Naval Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (NROTC) Program. I would go down and look at frigates, but, when I thought about it, I just couldn’t imagine being on the ocean with 50 dudes getting better looking everyday. So, I went into the Army to be an Airborne Ranger instead.