From the Harvard Business Review’s “Overcoming the Peter Principle.”
“Nowhere was the problem stated more acutely, it could be argued, than in the wicked 1969 satire, The Peter Principle. Taking the form of a serious work of business research, complete with entirely fake examples, it purported to have discovered the root cause of manager incompetence: Everyone in an organization keeps on getting promoted until they reach their level of incompetence. At that point they stop being promoted. So given enough time and enough promotion levels, every position in a firm will be occupied by someone who can’t do the job. The book struck a chord with the general public, staying on the New York Times bestseller list for over a year, and it’s still in print 45 years later.”
Preface from the Ole’ Buzzard: When the military wanna’ be leaders and empty suits that Ray Starmann writes about read his comments from the following article, they should all resign.
Not that we have feelings about these issues!
An Open Letter to America’s Senior Military Leaders
Dear Senior US Military Leaders:
You were born in the 1950’s and 1960’s and came of age in a US military wounded internally and psychologically from the effects of the Vietnam War, a war in which US military forces fought bravely and competently, but were betrayed by the country that sent them to Southeast Asia.
Your mentors were all Vietnam veterans, who crawled out of the ashes and vowed to rebuild the military, in what was for many of them, a near holy crusade, a ‘hot blue flame’ that burned inside them every day on active duty.
You had a front row seat in the rebirth of the US military, which rose like a Phoenix in the sands of the Middle East in 1991, and which performed spectacularly, a performance which was a testament to the dedication of the men who led you, men who honored and maintained the military’s traditions – traditions and a way of life that are often juxtaposed to the civilian world.
You know what those traditions are: Duty, Honor, Country…
Your duty – to do everything in your power to ensure that the military focuses on warfighting and nothing else.
Your honor – to do everything in your power to ensure that those who serve under you know that you care about the mission and the troops and not just about you.
You country – to do everything in your power to protect the nation you have sworn to defend, and most importantly, to serve as a buffer against the wayward and often destructive instincts of politicians and Beltway bureaucrats who wish to use the military as a social laboratory.
You know how generals and admirals are supposed to lead. You know what constitutes good leadership at all levels. You know what it takes to make the US military an efficient and lethal fighting force. You saw it rise to a majestic peak and then gradually fall into an abyss of diversity.
You know, and yet you have abandoned all pretense of your duty as senior officers, logic, common sense and intestinal fortitude to placate identity groups and diversity engineers that have never spent one day in uniform, much less one second in combat.
You know and yet you sit like stoic martinets, calculating your promotions, pensions and your future defense contractor salaries.
You have allowed the US military to become a social experiment; a feminized, weakened, PC force that is a shadow of its former toughness and greatness.
You continue to allow the US military to become nothing more than a leftist play land, while betting everything on the hope that our armed forces will never face a real enemy like the Chinese, the Russians or the North Koreans.
You have sold out the nation’s national defense and allowed the military’s operational tempo to decrease, all for the greater good of your careers.
You have allowed policies to be implemented and events to take place that I would have never thought possible while serving on active duty as a US Army officer.
From open homosexuality to transgenders on active duty to Mommy Rangers and breastfeeding support memorandums, you have stuck your heads in the sand as the military became nothing more than just a corporation with uniforms and C4.
You are undoubtedly well educated, and many of you hold multiple degrees.
Many of you served several combat tours and have an array of citations for meritorious service and valor that adorn your finely tailored uniforms.
There is no doubt that some of you have exhibited extraordinary courage in battle.
But, it is more than apparent that many of you left your courage on the battlefield, for you lack that one integral trait that all leaders must possess; moral courage, aka professional courage, aka the ability, as General MacArthur said, ‘to stand up in the storm;’ to say and do what you know is right, your careers and pensions be damned.
For some of you, it is not a matter of just lacking moral courage, but being loyal to a President no longer in office and a candidate who was soundly defeated in the last election. You so-called members of the ‘resistance’ in the Pentagon and across the military are traitors who have violated your oaths.
Others will argue, what could you do, what can you do? You were and are just following orders. But, there is no Fuehrerprinzip in the US military. There is no such thing as an order is an order.
It is your duty as senior officers to defend not only the nation, which you have sworn to serve, but the institutions themselves. It is your duty to question orders which you believe are detrimental and devastating to the military.
When did one member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff ever resign in the last decade, in personal protest against the Obama administration’s destructive military policies, and the same policies which still linger today?
When did just one senior officer write even an anonymous OPED criticizing current military policy?
When did any of you ever lift a finger or utter one word of protest in what was being done to the US military?
Where were your voices of protest when male ROTC cadets were parading around college campuses in red high heels, when Senator Kirsten Gillibrand questioned you about the value of transgenders serving on active duty and women in combat, when standards disappeared overnight at the Special Forces Qualification Course, when the Marines’ Combat Endurance Test was no longer a graded event for future infantry officers, when army basic training dumped the grenade throw and land navigation…? Where were you when the lactation stations opened up at combat units across the world and male soldiers of the Big Red One conducted physical training in pregnancy simulators? Where were you when senior leaders were railroaded out of the service for uttering the words, ‘sweetheart’, ‘faggot’ and the term ‘drunker than 10,000 Indians?’
Where were you? You were AWOL mentally and spiritually.
During the Gulf War in 1991, a young soldier told General Fred Franks, commander of VII Corps, ‘Don’t worry general, we trust you.’ Would anyone serving on active duty trust any of you? I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t follow any of you into water.
I believe you are the worst generation of American senior military leadership in our long and glorious history, bar none.
Last week, a retired US Army officer and Vietnam veteran asked me, “Isn’t there just one senior leader in uniform who has the guts to say what needs to be said?”
The answer is no.
Ray Starmann Editor in Chief US Defense Watch
As for leadership …
The Ole’ Buzzard would delight in being a bug under a “round table” rug at which sat William S. Lind, Larry Kummer, and Ray Starman. Consider also the chance of bringing on the Joint Chiefs and then resurrect long departed Professor Hugh Nibley for this tet-a-tet … and then ……………………………………….
Watch the sparks fly!
Nibley delivered a BYU commencement address that delighted the students but shocked some of the more stodgy Mormon Church Leaders behind him on the podium. Contextual references to doctrine and Nibley’s most amusing introduction were eliminated in order to focus on this “cut” from Leadership vs. Management linked in its entirety at the end of this posting … linked by text and rare video (37 minutes). The following thoughts were plumbed out of the whole of Nibley’s delivery. I repeat them here in order to justify and explain my pining to be that bug under the foregoing rug.
LEADERSHIP VS. MANAGEMENT by Dr. Nibley
What took place in the Greco-Roman as in the Christian world was that fatal shift from leadership to management that marks the decline and fall of civilizations.
At the present time, Captain Grace Hopper, that grand old lady of the Navy, is calling our attention to the contrasting and conflicting natures of management and leadership. No one, she says, ever managed men into battle. She wants more emphasis in teaching leadership. But leadership can no more be taught than creativity or how to be a genius. The Generalstab tried desperately for a hundred years to train up a generation of leaders for the German army, but it never worked, because the men who delighted their superiors, i.e., the managers, got the high commands, while the men who delighted the lower ranks, i.e., the leaders, got reprimands. Leaders are movers and shakers, original, inventive, unpredictable, imaginative, full of surprises that discomfit the enemy in war and the main office in peace. For managers are safe, conservative, predictable, conforming organization men and team players, dedicated to the establishment.
The leader, for example, has a passion for equality. We think of great generals from David and Alexander on down, sharing their beans or maza with their men, calling them by their first names, marching along with them in the heat, sleeping on the ground, and first over the wall. A famous ode by a long-suffering Greek soldier, Archilochus, reminds us that the men in the ranks are not fooled for an instant by the executive type who thinks he is a leader.
For the manager, on the other hand, the idea of equality is repugnant and indeed counterproductive. Where promotion, perks, privilege, and power are the name of the game, awe and reverence for rank is everything, the inspiration and motivation of all good men. Where would management be without the inflexible paper processing, dress standards, attention to proper social, political, and religious affiliation, vigilant watch over habits and attitudes, and so forth, that gratify the stockholders and satisfy security?
“If you love me,” said the Greatest of all leaders, “you will keep my commandments.” “If you know what is good for me,” says the manager, “you will keep my commandments, and not make waves.” That is why the rise of management always marks the decline of culture. If the management does not go for Bach, very well, there will be no Bach in the meeting; if management favors vile, sentimental doggerel verse extolling the qualities that make for success, young people everywhere will be spouting long trade-journal jingles from the stand; if the management’s taste in art is what will sell—trite, insipid, folksy kitsch—that is what we will get; if management finds maudlin, saccharine commercials appealing, that is what the public will get; if management must reflect the corporate image in tasteless, trendy new buildings, down come the fine old pioneer monuments.
To Parkinson’s Law, which shows how management gobbles up everything else, he added what he calls the “Law of Injelitance”: Managers do not promote individuals whose competence might threaten their own position; and so as the power of management spreads ever wider, the quality deteriorates, if that is possible. In short, while management shuns equality, it feeds on mediocrity.
On the other hand, leadership is an escape from mediocrity. All the great deposits of art, science, and literature from the past on which all civilization is nourished come to us from a mere handful of leaders. For the qualities of leadership are the same in all fields, the leader being simply the one who sets the highest example; and to do that and open the way to greater light and knowledge, the leader must break the mold. “A ship in port is safe,” says Captain Hopper, speaking of management; “but that is not what ships were built for,” she adds, calling for leadership. True leaders are inspiring because they are inspired, caught up in a higher purpose, devoid of personal ambition, idealistic, and incorruptible.
There is necessarily some of the manager in every leader as there should be some of the leader in every manager. Speaking in the temple to the temple management, the scribes and Pharisees all in their official robes, the Lord chided them for one-sidedness: They kept careful accounts of the most trivial sums brought into the temple, but in their dealings they neglected fair play, compassion, and good faith, which happen to be the prime qualities of leadership. The Lord insisted that both states of mind are necessary, and that is important: “This ye must do [speaking of the bookkeeping] but not neglect the other.” But it is “the blind leading the blind,” he continues, who reverse priorities, who “choke on a gnat and gulp down a camel” (see Matthew 23:23ff). So vast is the discrepancy between management and leadership that only a blind man would get them backwards. Yet that is what we do. In that same chapter of Matthew, the Lord tells the same men that they do not really take the temple seriously while the business contracts registered in the temple they take very seriously indeed (see Matthew 23:16-18).
Professor Emeritus of Ancient Scripture at Brigham Young University, Aug. 19, 1983 • Commencement speech (37 minutes)
Is there a Patton, Puller, Marshall, MacArthur or Eisenhower remaining or emerging today?
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