American Generalship: Character Is Everything: The Art of Command

By Edgar F. Puryear Jr. | Go to book overview

Chapter 7: Consideration

In every position of command your subordinates will want to know how much you care for them, far more than they will ever care how much you know.

-- General John K. Cannon, USAF (Ret.)

I asked this question of more than a hundred four-star generals: "How do you lead men in such a way that they will die for you in combat and work twenty hours a day, in time of peace for weeks and sometimes months if necessary, to resolve a certain crisis or problem?" The answer was unanimous: A leader must first set the example and show his devotion to a life of service to God and country; second, he must show consideration for the people serving with him.

I asked Lt. Gen. Willis D. Critenberger to comment on the leadership of General of the Army George C. Marshall. Critenberger addressed Marshall's consideration for others: "I was a corps commander in Fifth Army in World War II. General Marshall came over for an inspection of the troops in Europe. Upon his return to Washington, within twenty-four hours, someone on his staff called Mrs. Critenberger, who was living in San Antonio. When they got her on the telephone he himself came in and said: 'This is General Marshall, Mrs. Critenberger. I want you to know I saw your husband last night in Italy. He is well and I thought you would like to know.'

"He did this for many of the families of his commanders. This is a factor in his leadership that is in contrast with his rather dignified and serious manner. It was so reassuring for the family of a serviceman to have the head man call up and say, 'I just thought you would like to know he is all right.' That does everything for the morale of the soldier and his family." 1

Throughout World War II, Marshall contacted the wife, mother, or nearest relative of every senior officer he met on overseas inspection trips and commented on how they were. That it was greatly appreciated can be measured by the Marshall papers, which have

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American Generalship: Character Is Everything: The Art of Command
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Chapter 1: Selflessness 1
  • Notes 41
  • Chapter 2: Decision 44
  • Notes 75
  • Chapter 3: "Feel" or "Sixth Sense" in Decision Making 77
  • Notes 105
  • Chapter 4: Aversion to "Yes Men" 108
  • Notes 140
  • Chapter 5: Books 142
  • Notes 184
  • Chapter 6: Mentorship 188
  • Notes 233
  • Chapter 7: Consideration 236
  • Notes 259
  • Chapter 8: Delegation 261
  • Notes 282
  • Chapter 9: Fix the Problem, Not the Blame 285
  • Notes 299
  • Chapter 10: Reflective Descriptions of Character 301
  • Notes 335
  • Chapter 11: the Pattern 338
  • Notes 362
  • Index 367
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