Featured Article: Leadership and the Art of Delegation
Leadership and the Art of Delegation
by John Moore
Every officer the military commissions faces the same daunting experience at the start of their professional lives as a leader…the moment they meet the first group of people they will lead. The responsibility these young men and women have, most in their early twenties, is enormous. The lives of others depend, to a large degree, upon their competence and character. Each new leader wants their organization to know that they are technically competent and capable of leading them. And they know first impressions are lasting.
My particular experience occurred back in 1983. I reported to my unit where my platoon sergeant met me in the headquarters and began a 30-minute soliloquy on the duties and responsibilities of a platoon leader. My sergeant was an Army Ranger, three tour Vietnam veteran and truly larger than life. His leadership philosophy was simple, “there is right and there is wrong…do right.” When he took a rare breath and paused, I entered the conversation saying, “That is an awful lot to take in and carry out.” He paused and asked, “What do you mean?” I replied, “If I made a list of all the things you’ve described it would be long enough to be a book on being a platoon leader.” He laughed and said, “Sir – – that’s why you have the other sergeants in the platoon and me. Now looky here sir – you only have to do a few essential things.”
He laid them out for me. 1) Stay calm – always; and, never yell unless someone’s life depends on it. 2) When you get your mission, bring us in, we’ll break it down with you and we’ll work together to assign tasks and make sure we don’t miss anything. 3) Ensure those responsible for each task know exactly what you expect, why it needs to be done, and how they are to let you know its complete or that they need help. 4) Talk, listen, and listen some more.
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John Moore is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and 30-year Army veteran. As the chief of staff of the Operations Directorate during the surge in Iraq and as the defense coordinating officer for the military disaster response in the Midwest, Moore has spent a great deal of time knitting together the efforts of government, for profit, and not-for-profit organizations.