Memo to the boss: don’t do my job for me


Finweek English Edition - - MANAGEMENT -

In Au­gust 1942, Gen­eral Bernard Mont­gomery ar­rived in North Africa to take com­mand of the Bri­tish 8th Army. He be­gan re­plac­ing the se­nior of­fi­cers, and one of his new corps com­man­ders was Brian Hor­rocks. Mont­gomery put Hor­rocks in charge of stop­ping Ger­man Field Mar­shal Er­win Rom­mel’s last of­fen­sive in what is now known as the Bat- tle of Alam el Halfa. The Bri­tish de­fences held and Rom­mel was forced to with­draw.

Hor­rocks was un­der­stand­ably pleased with him­self un­til a li­ai­son of­fi­cer from 8th Army head­quar­ters brought a let­ter from Mont­gomery. It be­gan: “Well done – but you must re­mem­ber that you are now a corps com­man­der and not a di­vi­sional com­man­der ...” It went on to list four or five mis­takes Hor­rocks had made, mainly around in­ter­fer­ing with the tasks of his sub­or­di­nates.

Hor­rocks re­alised that Mont­gomery was right, so he called him and said, “Thank you very much.” Hor­rocks went on to be­come one of the most suc­cess­ful gen­er­als of World War II.

Fast for­ward to 2012. I was lead­ing a

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