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First Honorable Mention
Vincent Astor Memorial Leadership Essay Contest
One of the most difficult and challenging aspects of naval service is leading other sailors and Marines. As might be expected, service members tend to favor leadership techniques that take advantage of their perceived strengths. For example, a charismatic individual may focus on achieving a high level of motivation among people in a unit, while a well-organized individual may attempt to manage a unit’s efforts through reports and meetings. Often, people in leadership positions focus exclusively on one method or the other, generating a mistaken impression that leaders must choose between being motivators or managers. Actually, there is no choice. A successful military leader must be able both to manage and to motivate—to achieve results, not just inspire people to make an effort.
Consider, for example, the charge of the Light Brigade or Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg. The soldiers and unit commanders in both these actions obviously were motivated, but the overall command of the units involved in the incidents is universally acknowledged to have suffered from a failure in leadership, chiefly a failure to manage information concerning commander’s intent and the enemy’s disposition.
The battlefield exposes the paper tiger, but few U.S. military units in the late 20th century actually experience combat, so it is easy for commanders to concentrate on just one aspect of leadership.
The thinking that leadership is an ability that can be considered separately from the skill of management is expressed by the Department of Defense in The Armed Forces Officer.' That publication states, “People are led, and things are managed.” It also says that management is held to be the art of consensus and accommodation to the possible, while leadership is held to be the art of creating a willing followership for a common cause that may appear impossible. The division between leadership and management is clear, as is the preference. Although the manual states that an officer must have both skills, the damage has been done. As anyone who has contact with the U.S. military knows: it is okay to be a poor manager, but it is unacceptable to be a poor motivator.
The separation of management from leadership has been inadvertently reinforced by the ascendancy of various management theories in private industry and government. The chief offender was management by objective, which divorced worker performance from the personal example set by managers and focused instead on improving worker performance by setting specific numeric goals for production. This management theory resulted in readiness reports and body counts, as well as a multitude of unit reports concerning everything from injuries to charitable contributions. At some point, these reports stopped measuring the way units were preparing for combat and instead became in themselves the central focus for the unit.2 Commanders sought to do well on the report, regardless of the actual situation concerning readiness. The ultimate expression of the failure of this management philosophy in the military was the creation of the hollow force of the early 1980s.
One problem management theories pose for leaders is that most of them are production and eff*' ciency studies, not comprehensi'1 management philosophies. Since th‘ early days of the industrial revolt' tion, people have studied how t° make production—specifically- workers—more efficient. Initially the production line and time stud ies were used for this, but with th1’ advent of management by objective- financial compensation began t<* play a part. It was theorized that} company could increase efficiency by offering monetary rewards fo* increased production. The hards* and better people worked, the moh money they would receive. There was no need to focus on motivatioi* generated by the personal example of leaders because money served a*
of Defense and introduced as total quality management. In 1989, the Department of the Navy changed the name of the program to total quality leadership and aggressively pursued its introduction into the fleet. The name change has not helped. Sailors and Marines at all levels continue to resist the program because in their minds it is associated with managing and not leading. Because management is not part of the naval definition of leadership, Deming’s quality methods are seen as an alternative—sometimes even a threat—to leading.
When Deming developed his methods, he concentrated on managing rather than motivating because he was focusing on improving existing situations. Deming recognized the importance of worker motivation, but he believed it was the organizational and structural components that most affected the quality of production.3 Control of these components was in the hands of owners and managers, not the workers. Accordingly, he addressed a majority of his work to management and built a conclusive body of proof using statistical methods to show managers that they must change how they managed.
These two factors—the emphasis on management and the use of statistics— are a large part of what turns service members off. Military leaders like things they can get their arms around, such as leading a unit march or shooting a rifle. Collecting and compiling information is not as attractive as standing in front of a group of service members and giving straight talk that inspires them.
Another reason it is difficult for naval personnel to recognize the importance of management skills is a long history of motivational “follow me” type leaders. Sailors and Marines don't tell stories about the leaders who ensured that beans, bullets, and bandages got to the objective on time. They tell stories about the warriors who led charges and won battles. A closer look reveals that behind every example of legendary motivational leadership, there were leaders who carefully managed both people and resources to ensure that when someone stood up and said “Follow me,” warriors with supplies,
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ar>agement and motivation are "equal elements of good leadership, Marine assault at Beileau Wood "strates. When First Sergeant Dan (. av stood to lead the charge, he was °"ed by warriors with supplies, “Uipment, and proper training.
e motivation. That may work fine in .^rivate industry, but in military units it .. not as effective. Naval officers are mo- vated by things other than salary.
Dh i 6re are’ h°wever’ management a ' 0sophies that do not rely on setting ^ achieving objectives. One such they is Dr. W. Edwards Deming’s man- 8ement methods for improving quality, lch were adopted by the Department
Despite highly motivated warriors and a noble mission, the operation to free American hostages in Iran ended in tragedy at a desert refueling stop— because of failures in management.
equipment, and proper training were ready to move.
Take, for example, the Marine who, during the Battle of Beileau Wood, led a charge against German machine-gun positions shouting, “Come on, you sons-o’-bitches! Do you want to live forever?”4 Despite heavy casualties, the assault was successful and the event became a legend.
That Marine, then-First Sergeant Dan Daly, was ready to fight. He is a prime example for those who say that a leader is the man who steps out first and motivates others to follow. First Sergeant Daly and the Marines at Beileau Wood had terrific fighting spirit, but that spirit was backed up by war-fighting skills developed by an officer who carefully managed the equipping and training of his Marines during very demanding circumstances.
During the period leading up to battle, the commanding officer of the 6th Marine Regiment took his unit, half of which consisted of raw recruits, and taught it U.S. Army drill, changed its U.S. rifles and machine guns for European models, conditioned it for the rigors of combat, and taught it the techniques of trench warfare—all in just four months.5 That commanding officer, Colonel Albertus Catlin, demonstrated exceptional leadership in both managing and motivating his Marines while preparing them for combat. He ensured that when First Sergeant Daly stood up, there would be Marines ready and able to stand up with him and attack.
Motivation in combination with management leads to success. Motivation without management leads to failure.
The U.S. mission to free the hostages held in Iran suffered from a failure of leadership at the highest levels—because the leaders focused too much on motivation and not enough on management. Operation Eagle Claw ended in tragedy at a desert refueling stop. The warriors involved in the mission were highly motivated. They were inspired by their unit commanders and their mission. They were not, however, well managed. Helicopters were not equipped, prepared, or supplied for the mission; units had neither rehearsed together nor even met each other; the written plan did not detail actions for each element; radios were not
compatible; and finally, personnel were neither fully trained nor informed about the situation they would face during the mission.6 The failure of this operation was not caused by a lack of desire, motivation, or bravery: the warriors involved tried to accomplish their mission. It was caused by a failure of leadership where the decisions were made about managing the available information and using that information to manage the forces.7
Motivation alone is not enough. Neither is management enough in itself. The mere application of management tools is not leadership. A highly motivated unit may be able to overcome difficulties to reach its goal, but a unit that is well managed but unmotivated seldom will.
A good example of management without motivation comes from the U.S. Civil War and the Army of the Potomac under General George B. McClellan. McClellan took an army that was little better than a mob and quickly organized, trained, and equipped it for war.* His soldiers’ abilities and morale soared, but when they reached the banks of the Rappahannock River and faced the Confederate Army at Fredericksburg, Virginia, McClellan would not lead them into battle and on to victory. Eventually, as McClellan repeated this pattern of organizing for battle but never fighting, he was relieved, and President Abraham Lincoln began a search for a general who would fight.
McClellan exemplified one of the dangers of using management tools: Sometimes the tool assumes the place of the mission. Good management does not replace good leadership, just as being motivated to attempt something does not take the place of actually achieving it.
The belief that leadership and management are separate skills is well entrenched in the U.S. military, but this separation has not existed in all military organizations or in all times. In the 16th century, Miyamato Mushashi wrote that “The Way of the foreman carpenter is the same as the Way of the commander.”6 He explained that a warrior must know how to employ his weapons but must also know how to “allot his men work according to their ability” and to “know their morale and spirit and encourage them when necessary.”10 Mushashi believed that commanders were managers, as well as warriors and motivators.
Baron De Jomini and Frederick the Great also stated that valor is an essential element in a leader, but that it must be accompanied by a thorough understanding and application of military science. When discussing the leadership of armies, both men made it clear that they mean preparing men for battle as well as displaying personal courage during bat
tle. They did not distinguish these activities that modem soldiers consider management from the act of leading.
Despite some present-day conventional wisdom, then, there is no dichotomy between management and leadership; leadership consists of managing and motivating in equal measure. Naval service members already know this and practice it every day when they write training plans or select personnel for advancement—they just don’t consciously acknowledge it. Using readiness reports and other management tools, such as courtesy inspections, quality circles, and feedback reports, would help sailors and Marines lead better, by helping them focus unit resources on activities that are most important to the unit’s mission. The Marine Corps’ systems approach to training is an example of total quality leadership principles being used to develop management tools that will increase unit readiness.
The systems approach to training focuses a unit on the training needed to meet the mission performance requirements set out by higher headquarters. By examining what the unit is expected to do and then evaluating its ability to do it, a commander can establish a plan for reaching the performance level required. Rather than mindlessly completing training across broad categories, the unit concentrates on developing its most-needed capabilities. Once a needed capability is acquired, training focuses on maintaining and improving that capability rather than constantly relearning it. If a capability is not needed for a unit to accomplish its mission, that training can be cut back or eliminated. The systems approach to training is an attempt to institutionalize management changes that will allow units to make better use of their resources. Properly allocating training resources is good management, and it also is good leadership.
Accepting the importance of management in leadership requires a fundamental shift in perception of what good leadership is. All hands must come to realize that being good is more important than just looking good. One step along this path is changing the way service members view inspections.
Normally, inspections by external agencies are undertaken only because they are required and cannot be avoided. Inspections are considered report cards, and preparation often consists of a mixture of applying some finishing touches while hiding improper activities. Once inspection results are received, any existing discrepancies are corrected and the episode is forgotten. This is a self-defeating approach.
Inspections by external agencies should be treated as management tools,
a chance to get a nonpartisan look at what is really happening. Courtesy visits should be performed on a regular basis. Any discrepancies should be investigated, not to place blame but to identify causes of error. If the discrepancy was caused by an unusual occurrence—such as a flood knocking out electrical service for a week—then the unit should correct the mistakes and move on. If the discrepancy was caused by a problem with the sys- | tern, however—for example, data-entry I errors caused by a poorly designed source document—then the system needs to be fixed. In this case, new forms should be created with enough space for the needed , information. Every report a unit generates should be considered the same way—not as a report card, but as a management tool for identifying problems and correcting their root causes so they will not recur.
In the end, strong motivational commanders often can exhort their people to incredible feats of individual performance : and bravery, but failure to manage assets and people properly usually results in I those commanders having to inspire ex- ; ceptional acts just to achieve normal resuits. A commander who inspires and manages is a true leader. Such a leader builds a unit that performs all tasks well- Not only do they get outstanding results, but they are better able to care for the welfare of their service members because, without a constant crisis, work gets done s on schedule and people have time for their lives after work. The time has come for naval leaders to realize that management skills are not an adjunct to leadership but an integral and vital part of being a leader.
'The Armed Forces Officer (Washington: U.S. Gov- emment Printing Office, NAVMC 2563 Rev. 1988), p. 37.
2Common Sense Training (Novato: Presidio Press, 1978).
■W. Edwards Deming, Out of the Crisis (Cambridge, MA: NUT Press, 1986).
‘Robert Debs Heinl, Soldiers of the Sea (Baltimore: Nautical & Aviation Publishing Company, 1991),
5Alan Millet, Semper Fidelis (New York: MacMillan, 1980), p. 291.
6Arthur T. Hadley, The Straw Giant (New York: Avon Books, 1987).
’Paul B. Ryan, The Iranian Rescue Mission: Why It , Failed (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1985).
"Bruce Catton, This Hallowed Ground (New York: Doubleday, 1955).
9Miyamato Mushashi, A Book of Five Rings (Woodstock: The Overlook Press, 1974), p. 40. l0Ibid, pp. 40-42.
Captain Freund, a UH-1N pilot, is currently as- 1 signed to Marine Aircraft Group 42. A recent grad- ' uate of the Amphibious Warfare School, he has served with HMT-303 and with HMLA-367, ineluding deployment to Southwest Asia during Desert Shield and Desert Storm.