Karl Moore over at The Globe and Mail interviews 4-star Army General Martin Dempsey, Commander of the Army's Training and Doctrine Command. General Dempsey leads the organization (TRADOC) responsible for training the Army's leaders and producing relevant policies and procedures for success in all the Army's missions. You can read the interview here.
In his discussion of the evolution of military leadership, I think there is much to learn on his approach to training military leaders to operate during complexity and chaos. The interview also gives the General's thoughts on leadership versus management, and how senior leaders need both. Finally, I appreciated his discussion on the need to replace control with trust, especially given the complexity of today's operating environment in places like Afghanistan.
I really appreciate this last point on trust. I think any more that decision cycles are too short for strict, hierarchical, bureaucratic command and control. Leaders must set the conditions, provide intent (the what and why...not the how), allocate resources and align them with priorities, and empower subordinates to figure out the rest. They must trust their teammates to make good decisions consistent with their training and values.
Many of us still struggle with this concept of empowerment and trust. But in this information-rich society and difficult economy, leaders have to let go. General Dempsey reminds us that our teammates, especially the younger ones, have an intense desire to understand, to contribute, to connect. This should cause us to be more open, to be more collaborative, and to listen. Then trust them to do the right thing.
Good stuff. That's Leader Business.