“The buck stops here” is a statement made popular by President Truman of the US. It implies that the head of any organization or institution should take on the responsibility for the decisions taken by the organization and will not pass on the responsibility to others when things go wrong. This is the universally accepted dictum for a leader of any organization.
I am a firm believer that all responsible heads of institutions should follow this philosophy. I tried my best to do so as the commanding officer (CO) of Infantry Battalion. It implied the following to me:
- There would never be any scapegoats sought when things go wrong.
- I would take responsibility for actions taken by juniors when they were delegated tasks with independence.
- I wanted my juniors to know that I would take complete responsibility to whatever that went wrong.
- Credit for whatever good was done by any individual was assuredly his.
As CO I had placed these written words behind my chair for others to see and remember.
Let There be Confusion only Above Me!
I experienced numerous occasions when seniors passed ambiguous and infirm orders. I tried my best to give clear and unambiguous directions to my subordinates. I will give just one example. I was posted as Commandant of a battle school responsible to train all the troops operating in Assam. As soon as I started my command I asked the Lt Col under me as to whether the troops were to keep the AK-47 Rifles being used on the single round firing mode or the burst firing mode when operating in Assam. I could not get an answer from my entire training staff. I wrote to the head of operations for clarification and got no reply. I then passed instructions on behalf of the Lt Gen that the AK-47 Rifles should be kept in the single shot firing mode. This should be the default setting for the entire troops operating in Assam.
Even today it is my endeavor to explain things in clear and unambiguous terms to the students of No Frills Academy and take responsibility for anything that is not okay.