Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Responsible leadership

I havent' blogged much about the shifting of blame from person to person in the uproar over intelligence misuse. Frankly, it saddens me that anyone has to. What have we truly come to when we have to convince people that the president is responsible for his administration -- hell, for the very words that come from his own mouth!

Maybe if Bush had really put in some time in the military he would have learned one of its most important truisms. I first heard it as a sailor onboard (oddly enough) the USS Abraham Lincoln a few years ago from a man who I still admire to this day, then-Captain Robert Willard. He has since gone on to become a two-star and is Commander of the Navy's Seventh Fleet, so, one would think, he knows a little something about leadership. The upshot is that something (I can't remember what) had gotten screwed up and he was giving my lieutenant a respectful dressing down about it when I walked in the office and overheard just a bit of the conversation. Thing was, I was the one who had screwed up and said, "Sir, I heard what you were saying and I want you to know that the problem was my fault, not Lieutenant A----'s."

He could have simply said that it was none of my business. He was a captain, I an E-5. He didn't. He smiled and said, "Petty Officer Welch, I appreciate what you're trying to do and it's not that I don't believe you, but it's important that you learn something now, since you're going to someday lead sailors. You can delegate authority, but never responsibility."

It's the best thing the military taught me. I wish everyone would take it to heart.


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