Opinion: Responsibility belongs to those in charge
Last updated 7/30/2022 at 12:38pm
Lately, I’ve been thinking more and more about some of the disciplines I was required to learn in my misspent youth that have application in the world today. One of these issues is leadership.
Leadership is defined in many different ways, with characteristics and traits listed and discussed in great detail.
As I ponder the current situation recorded by our scribes and anchor persons, the 11th Principle of Leadership comes to mind: “Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions.”
Once again, it’s the second half of that principle that is the sticky part: “Take responsibility for your actions.”
Here’s a short example of responsibility that happened in June 1944. Gen. Dwight Eisenhower’s letter to the troops invading Normandy contained the following: “You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. We will accept nothing less than full victory! Good Luck!”
The general wrote another note prior to the invasion on June 6 that he folded up and slipped into his wallet. That note, which was saved by Ike’s adjutant, Navy Capt. Harry Butcher, became known as the “In the Event of Failure Letter.” It reads: “Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that Bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”
When was the last time you heard any leader, political or military, express that sentiment about anything? How about what just happened in Uvalde, Texas?
Uvalde is being touted as a massive failure of the system. Uvalde was a human failure, caused by humans, but the responsibility lies with the person in charge. That’s why there is a chain of command.
The day before the shooting at the school, everyone knew who was in charge.
Responsibility is a heavy burden and cannot be delegated to any subordinate. You can delegate authority, but not responsibility. If you’re the person in charge, remember, if blame or fault attaches to the event, the blame or fault is yours alone.
Rube Render is a former Clovis city commissioner and former chair of the Curry County Republican Party. Contact him: