Leadership by e-mail.
“Didn’t you get my e-mail?”
This is a common statement made by those in the military who are too enamored with 21st Century technology to leave their desk. Perhaps they don’t possess the fortitude to actually speak to flesh and blood humans face to face. Either way, it is an unsatisfactory way to lead and if you are guilty of it just know that I hate you. Desk jockeys can e-mail their subordinates all they want but when is actual leadership applied?
Our Leadership Principles remind us to ensure orders are understood, carried out, and supervised. None of these requirements are met by merely hitting the SEND button. Sorry, it’s true.
Getting a read receipt does not mean anyone has complied with the alleged electronic missive either. “Well he read my e-mail.”; is a cowardly excuse for a lack of direct supervision. I say again, hitting SEND does not end our obligation to …(wait for it)… FOLLOW UP and make sure tasks are getting accomplished. Read receipts have nothing to do with concepts like accountability. In case no one ever explained it before, accountability of personnel and equipment requires leaders to actually see things with their own eyes and touch them with their own hands. If this idea is an alien to anyone you may want to consider a line of work outside the military and please do not apply for a leadership position in regular society.
If geography makes it impossible to see someone face to face please have the courage to pick up the phone. When you try to chew out an individual electronically and CC a bunch of other people what you are really saying is: “It wasn’t me! It was the one armed man in the TO line!” Barring any special circumstance where this might be warranted, all it does is scream that you are trying to affix the blame for your incompetence on someone else. And really, if you messed up, say you messed up. It won’t save you from a butt chewing but at least we will respect you in the morning.
The bottom line is this: Get out from behind your desk and go lead someone once in a while.
That is all. Carry on with the plan of the day.