Leading as a Command Responsibility
Command responsibility is an authority unique to the military definition of leadership:
“An Army leader is anyone who by virtue of assumed role or assigned responsibility inspires and influences people to accomplish organizational goals. Army leaders motivate people both inside and outside the chain of command to pursue actions, focus thinking, and shape decisions for the greater good of the organization.”- FM 6-22
In the military, leading is a command responsibility and a sacred trust that extends beyond typical management responsibilities.
Because society expects military leaders to be accountable for the well being of soldiers and to ensure they receive proper training and care.
Photo courtesy U.S. Army
- Definition of Responsibility: “a duty or obligation where someone is held accountable.”
Command is a specific and legal leadership responsibility that amounts to lawful authority. It is unique to the military, but businesses can achieve the same by establishing an employee code of conduct and ensuring everyone lives the corporate values.
Perhaps the greatest responsibility for every leader is to create a vision, provide direction, and establish common ground for everyone by:
- providing the basis for communication and common understanding
- creating an environment where teamwork flourishes
- fostering leadership through empowerment and delegation
Employers that facilitate leadership, teamwork, and communication, create the environment for teams to be free to adapt and respond to changing circumstances.
Roles and Responsibilities
A key advantage in the military is a history of written job descriptions for every position with roles and responsibilities clearly defined. These positions remain the same for across organizations. Since responsibilities are known and understood, everyone proceeds with a common understanding or roles and responsibilities from one organization to the next.
Employers who create this environment share a similar view of command responsibility. They provide clear job descriptions that outline roles and responsibilities, allowing the team to divide and conquer and accomplish goals much more quickly than the competition.
Businesses that foster leadership and create a team environment communicate best. When everyone is able to contribute because of positive encouragement and the freedom to exercise initiative, the team adapts and achieves things unknown.
Leadership in Action
Command responsibility includes delegating, empowering, and allowing junior leaders some room to learn and grow. Great leaders establish a supportive environment with clear standards that teach it is a privilege to lead. They demonstrate that what leadership means by setting the example and “living” the corporate values.
Command responsibility is not about exercising the authority leaders are entitled. Instead, it is about using that authority as little as possible. It is about motivating, inspiring, teaching, and above all, accepting responsibility for everything within your organization.
Good leaders always accept responsibility!