Leading with Honor

Available in hardcover, softcover, eBook, or audio book formats. To purchase or review a chapter sample, visit our Store or your favorite book retailer such as Amazon or Barnes and Noble.


From the Book’s Foreword:

“In Leading with Honor, Lee draws from the POW experience, including some of his own personal story, to illustrate the crucial impact of leadership on the success of any organization. He highlights lessons and principles that can be applied to every leadership situation.”

      – Senator John McCain, United States Senate (1936-2018)


Publishers Weekly calls Leading With Honor “moving” and “inspiring.”

Foreword Reviews says it is “provocative…an exceptionally well-constructed and well-written book.”

Business Book Summaries described it as “a gripping personal narrative” whose lessons will help leaders at all levels.

2015 Leadership 500 Excellence Award Winner – Leadership Freedom LLC

2013 Air Force Chief of Staff Reading List RecipientRead More

2012 ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Awards 

FINALIST – Business and Economics Category

2012 International Book Awards

WINNER – Business/Management Category | FINALIST – Non-Fiction Book Cover

2012 Indie Excellence Book Awards

WINNER – Leadership Category | WINNER – Non-Fiction Book Cover


Leading with Honor

Make Every Step Count in Your Leadership Journey

(Hardcover ISBN# 978-0-983879305, Softcover ISBN# 978-0-9838793-2-9)

How did American military leaders in the brutal POW camps of North Vietnam inspire their followers for six, seven, and even eight years to remain committed to the mission, resist a cruel enemy, and return home with honor? What leadership principles engendered such extreme devotion, perseverance, and teamwork?

In this powerful and practical book, Lee Ellis, a former Air Force pilot, candidly talks about his five and a half years of captivity and the 14 key leadership principles behind this amazing story.

As a successful executive coach and corporate consultant, he helps leaders of Fortune 500 companies, healthcare executives, small business owners, and entrepreneurs utilize these same pressure-tested principles to increase their personal and organizational success.

In Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton, you will learn:

– Courageous lessons from POW leaders facing torture in the crucible of captivity.

– How successful teams are applying these same lessons and principles.

– How to implement these lessons using the Coaching sessions provided in each chapter.

This book is ideal for individual or group study as a personal development, coaching, human resource development, or executive training resource.


Coaching Materials

Download copies of the expanded Coaching Handouts mentioned in the book to go deeper in applying the 14 leadership lessons.


Download a copy of the Military Code of Conduct that Lee mentions in his book. It comprised the core values that he and his comrades followed to unify, resist, survive, and return home with honor.


We’ve also created our own Honor Code that you can also download.








Courage Challenge Cards

The Courage Challenge Card is mentioned during the study.

Download a digital copy

Purchase printed cards


Group Training

Leading with Honor Group Training from Lee Ellis

We’ve also developed self-study Group Training materials to use with your team. Both a Participant Guide and Leader Guide are available, and it’s designed to be used with the Leading with Honor tradebook.

Purchase Your Copies

Group Training Support Materials

Visit this support page that provides additional support resources such a powerpoint presentation, video clips, and more.


What Others Are Saying

Below are just a few of the 40+ endorsements generously given for Lee and the Leading with Honor book. Read all of them in our Endorsements section.

“If you want just another management book, Leading With Honor isn’t it. Ellis is a storyteller whether or not he intends to be. The management advice is solid but because so much of the management lessons are drawn from Lee’s experience as a POW the historical record commands your attention. For that reason alone, I want this book on my bookshelf.”

        – T. Scott Gross, Contributor, Prosper Now Blog @

“Leading with Honor uses a pile driver to tell its story, making many points that today’s leaders can employ. If you read only one book this year, make it this one. You owe it to yourself and to those who so nobly served and will not be forgotten.”

Air and Space Journal

“The book actually made me feel somewhat inadequate when it comes to leadership. It just goes to show that you’re never too old to learn a lot of things. Anyone who is in a leadership position, I don’t care how you have been doing it, you need to read this book.”

        – Jerry Newberry, VFW Director of Communications and Public Affairs, Radio Host on “The National Defense”

“This is a book you just can’t put down once you open the cover.  Inside will well up a sense of pride in our country and those who serve as Lee takes us into the details of true leaders who bled red, white and blue!”

Arlin Sorenson, CEO of Heartland Technology Solutions, Leader of Heartland Technology Groups

“Lee does a thought provoking, masterful job sharing his personal experiences in captivity and integrating those into principles for leadership success. This book is a must read, authored by a unique individual who continues to give back to those he so courageously served and protected – the leaders of today and tomorrow.”

Ed Day, President and CEO, Mississippi Power Company

“In these pages, Lee Ellis shares extraordinary stories of courage, resiliency, honor, and humility from which we can learn about such transformative leadership and apply these insights to today’s workplace.”

Michael Montelongo, SVP & Chief Administrative Officer, On-site Service Solutions, Sodexo North America

“Lee’s candid narrative is compelling, giving us an appreciation for the importance of leading with honor and courage, even in the face of the most difficult adversity.”

Ralph de la Vega, Retired President and CEO, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets, Author of Obstacles Welcome: Turn Adversity into Advantage in Business and Life

“In Leading with Honor, Lee uses gripping stories from the POW camps to engage the reader and teach invaluable principles of leadership. I highly recommend this book for developing leaders at all levels in any organization, military or civilian.”

William R. Looney III, General USAF (Ret)

“I first met Lee Ellis in a North Vietnamese Prison. Leaders emerged of course, and Lee was among them.  He seemed to understand, better than most, what was required to maintain harmony and cohesion in that naturally tense environment.  Anyone seeking a better understanding of how to lead and manage others, in any kind of organization, will profit from this book.”

       – General Charles G. Boyd, USAF (Ret), Former President and CEO, Business Executives for National Security (BENS) 2002-2009; Center for the National Interest, Starr Distinguished Fellow for National Security, Director at BENS, DRS Technologies, and I-Q-Tell; Board of Visitors, Air University, USAF

“A great read on integrity, character, and leadership. Lee captures the essence of what it takes to provide strong leadership, as well as followership, in some of the most difficult conditions ever faced by our military men.”

R. E. “Gene” Smith, Past President and Chairman of the Board, Air Force Association, Pow 25 Oct 67- 14 Mar 73

“Lee’s remarkable journey and ability to take what would for most be considered a dark time, and turn it into an opportunity to teach leadership is a genuine gift.  Transforming prison life experiences to leadership learning surpasses others attempt to write on leadership.”

Bob Pedersen, Chief Visionary & Storyteller, Goodwill NCW

“In the crowded world of books on leadership, Lee Ellis’s unique contribution, Leading with Honor, rises well above the standard fare on this topic. His book is so authentic in that he has personally experienced most of the lessons he promotes.”

Archie B. Carroll, Director, Nonprofit Management & Community Service Program and Professor of Management Emeritus, Terry College of Business, University of Georgia