Colin Powell: Open chain of command key to problem solving
February 25, 2014
By David Vergun
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Feb. 25, 2014) -- "The chain of command has to be open so that people will bring problems up to the top," said a former Soldier who later became chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and secretary of state.
Once those problems make it up through the chain, "commanders and leaders will act on those problems and solve them," said retired Gen. Colin Powell, following a book-signing event at the Pentagon, Feb. 25.
The chain of command, he said, is there so that leaders know what's going on in their organization, can identify problems, and can then do something about them.
The general said his faith in the chain of command is one of the important things he's carried with him through 50-plus years of leadership.
"Throughout my career, I've been blessed by being exposed to superb leaders, superb officers, superb non-commissioned officers," he said. "But I've also seen, in the course of my career, some failures."
Powell said there are "too many leaders at all levels who do not meet the standards of the Army."
Those failures, he pointed out, come from such things as a lack of integrity, abuse of Soldiers or other acts of misconduct that are not consistent with the standards of the Army.
The only real way to solve those problems, he emphasized, is "through leadership by the chain of command."
Powell's book, titled "It Worked For Me: In Life and Leadership," contains anecdotes and lessons he learned throughout his career that he hopes will help others.
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