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"What Ever Happened to Accountability?" by Thomas E. Ricks-HBR

If you’re looking for management lessons from outside the halls of corporations, you could do worse than to study the United States Army. That master of management teaching Peter Drucker often turned to the military of his adopted nation for inspiration, especially on matters of leadership. Take, for example, this advice from his 1967 book The Effective Executive:

It is the duty of the executive to remove ruthlessly anyone—and 
especially any manager—who consistently fails to perform with high 
distinction. To let such a man stay on corrupts the others. It is grossly 
unfair to the whole organization.

It is grossly unfair to his subordinates who are deprived by their superior’s inadequacy of opportunities for achievement and recognition. 
Above all, it is senseless cruelty to the man himself. He knows that he is inadequate whether he admits it to himself or not.

When standards are not rigorously upheld and inadequate performance is allowed to endure in leadership ranks, the effect is not only to rob an enterprise of some of its potential. It is to lose the standards themselves and let the most important capabilities of leadership succumb to atrophy. 

In the spring of 1939, even before becoming chief of staff, George C. Marshall had devised a plan to 
remove scores of  officers he considered deadwood.

He stands as an extreme example of leading not by being charming or charismatic but by setting standards.

As transformational leaders tend to do, Marshall began by focusing on people. He truly was ruthless 
in getting the right people in the right jobs—and the wrong people out of them. When Brigadier General Charles Bundel insisted that the army’s training manuals could not all be updated in three or four months and instead would require 18, Marshall twice asked him to reconsider that statement. 
“It can’t be done,” Bundel repeated. 
“I’m sorry, then you are relieved,” Marshall replied. 

In the spring of 1939, even before becoming chief of staff, Marshall had devised a plan to remove 
scores of officers he considered deadwood. By his estimate, he eliminated some 600 officers before 

the United States entered the war, in December 1941.

Marshall listed the qualities of successful leaders, in the following order:
1. “good common sense”
2. “have studied your profession”
3. “physically strong”
4. “cheerful and optimistic”
5. “display marked energy”
6. “extreme loyalty”
7. “determined

Marshall emphasized character over intellect in his list. he did so consciously, tailoring his template 
to fit the particular circumstances of the united states.

When the process by which leaders earn and keep their positions loses its integrity, the loss extends far beyond poor outcomes achieved locally.

Reference and download-*XgOGK9j4tZZHMIn9u5XflZOy5zjX6zw*TRD1ivyf41bosjB4RZm9FDe0nipcflBTbqBJkerFp8aywRUdQ__/ArmyAccountability.PDF


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