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Saturday, Mar 28, 2015

More on leadership


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I recall talking to a good friend in the Corps years ago when he assumed command of a Marine unit and was visiting subordinate elements of the command.

At one of the subordinate units, he asked the officer in charge about the morale in the unit and the answer was that he would have to get back to him. Needless to say, that particular officer did not last long as the leader in that subordinate unit.

There are all sorts of means to check on the effectiveness of a unit without spending a lot of time, and it applies to any type of organization.

It is amazing what one can learn by just walking around, looking, listening and talking to personnel.

There is a show on TV called “Undercover Boss.” The boss goes to subordinate elements under disguise in an effort to learn what is really going on in the organization. I have a better method. Get out of the office and spend time with the troops or employees and listen as you watch.

Most good books on leadership talk about taking care of the people in the organization and eliminating anything that prevents them from doing a great job.

Businesses spend a fortune on trying to develop leadership by sending employees to seminars, schools and other programs. They measure their effectiveness by how much they spend rather than checking to determine if any of the programs have made an impact on the people that they sent to the various programs.

I believe that the best method of developing leaders within an organization is through personal example and creating an environment where subordinates want to excel and assume more responsibility. Far too many leaders are micro-managers and dictate every step. They do not present a vision, but rather a road map that must be followed to the tee.

Many of these micro-managers love to have meetings that are routine but lack direction. Meetings must be agenda-driven and time-constrained if they are to be productive.

Employees or troops appreciate and respond favorably when they are recognized as more than just an entity. How do you respond when the boss recognizes something that you did or a special day in your life such as a birthday or anniversary? Some have the secretary send a card, but that is not enough. A handwritten note attached shows that it was not just something that good leadership says is a good idea. 

What makes this such a great country is that the majority of our people respond favorably to effective leadership and perform well beyond what is required when that leadership is positive, directed, practiced by example. The opposite may be successful for the short term, but it eventually will fail.

Donald J. Myers, a retired colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps, is a regular columnist for Hernando Today. He lives in Spring Hill and can be contacted at

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