Leadership / Employee Engagement / Delegation / Communication

A Hugely Powerful Tool for Communication

Powerful but Ridiculously Simple!

Mark McMillion
4 min readJan 29, 2024

--

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower gives the order of the day, “Full victory, nothing less” to paratroopers somewhere in England just before they board their planes to take part in the first assault of the invasion of France. June 6, 1944. No known copyright restrictions. Picture from the National Archives.

Leaders. Miscommunication. They seem almost inextricably linked at the hip. Effective leadership starts with successful communication. You simply cannot lead others if you cannot adequately share your thoughts and ideas with them.

Yet we experience hiccups, foul-ups, and screw-ups from someone not understanding who, what, where, why, or how. Sometimes even relatively simple stuff goes awry because two people didn’t understand one another. It doesn’t have to be this way.

As a leader, it’s imperative for you to ensure the task is understood, supervised, and accomplished (West Point Leadership Principle #9). Here’s a simple method I learned and used during my 22 years of active-duty in the Army. There’s nothing “Army” about it — it’s perfectly suitable for any domain. I even use it with my kids!

Getting things done right the first time is better for everyone. Having someone do something over is frustrating for both you and them. I hate redoing work, especially if I could have done it right the first time. But if that mutual understanding isn’t there, I won’t get it right the first time.

Having employees repeat work wastes time and money. Many times in business, as we’ve all heard, time is money. Therefore, we can lower costs and earn greater profit.

Lastly, in those instances when dealing with a customer, getting it done right the first time makes the customer happier as well. Customer satisfaction leads to more and / or repeat work. So getting it right the first time is just better business.

Picture by author. All rights reserved.

Step 1

Tell the person what you want them to do. Strive for clarity of course and encourage them to ask questions as appropriate. This is nothing new, right? Cover the who, what, where, when, and why. Perhaps the how for a new employee or low-functioning one. I prefer not to tell people how. There’s a great quote from General George S. Patton…

--

--

Mark McMillion

Retired Army officer with two tours in Baghdad, married with four kids. Proud West Virginian and West Point grad. Works available on Amazon.