The Memo: Leadership and Followership in
Completed Staff Work


The Memo: How the Classified Military Document that Helped the U.S. Win World War II Can Teach You
How to Succeed in Business

The Memo original undated The MacArthur Memorial Norfolk, Virginia

The Memo
original undated
The MacArthur Memorial
Norfolk, Virginia

Get The Memo here.

Completed Staff Work is now offered at The Catholic University of America in The Busch School of Business in Management MGT 302.

Did a memo help the U.S. win World War II?

We were losing. By 1941, Germany had conquered significant parts of the Soviet Union. Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. Italy assaulted Greece.

The Axis Powers were thought to be unstoppable. Great Britain was about to be invaded. Moscow was about to be overrun. China was disintegrating.

But over the next four years, the Axis Powers were crushed and surrendered unconditionally to the Allies.

How did the Free World reverse its losses and go on to win?

Peter Drucker once said that WWII was determined, not by superior arms as we often imagine, but by getting things done. “The Allies won,” said Drucker, “their victory achieved by management.”

The covert doctrine that led to our victory was outlined in a rather mundane sounding memorandum titled: Completed Staff Work.

The Memo_cover_v2.2_Mar13-17 This message was so vital to the war effort that the USA’s leadership was concerned about its falling into enemy hands. During WWII, the military restricted its distribution because it was concerned with security.

However, the closely-held secret was not only about troop movements, armament capabilities or the atom bomb. The Allied generals wanted to ensure that the enemy would not know that the Free World knew how to execute.

The Allies had refined the practice of management and wartime discipline.

Today, on the business battlefield, clichés abound: Do the work. Plan your work and work your plan.

But the reality is that organizations still struggle to get projects completed on time and within budget. Everyone from newly hired employees up to the CEO is still searching for the “secret sauce.” What is the magic formula that will help employees get work done on time and help people be more effective managers?

In fact, the secret ingredient is spelled out in this military memo and remarkably, The Doctrine of Completed Staff Work has withstood testing–literally–under fire. The Memo is based on original research.  The doctrine was published in the 24 January 1942 edition of the Army and Navy Journal, by Colonel (later Major General) Lerch and probably classified later.  See the papers of Brigadier General Rehm, a staff officer for General MacArthur.

This book uncovers the origins, history, and application of decision-making and execution using vignettes from armed conflicts. The lessons are also recounted in case studies of (somewhat) less violent business situations. The management practice of getting work done through the thinking support of others will be revealed in an entertaining and enlightening style.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of books on leadership development, are available. However, there are far fewer tomes about how to be a good subordinate. In addition, there is virtually no literature on that magical intersection of leader and follower. This book provides a fresh examination of the relationship between the manager and staff.

Leadership and management books often focus on the self, the person of the Great Man—but organizations actually succeed through the motivation of others. Look at most job descriptions in every industry and you’ll see something along the lines of “Able to work independently and as part of a team.” Particularly with today’s virtual and remote work patterns, understanding how to get work done in a visible enough way to earn a promotion is a priority for many employees.

This book will serve as a reference guide for both leaders, and those who report to them. I will examine the disparate duties of the manager and his direct reports, situated within the environment around them – and offer strategies that will help the team, and its manager as coach, get work done.

The Memo sits at the juncture of Leadership and Followership.

Leadership and Management and Organizational Behavior courses are common offerings in higher education and most are, well, academic (and I’ve taught more than my share).

The literature is thin, however, on Followership perhaps because hierarchy is not popular. But this book will show that subordinates on the organizational chart can be leaders in their positions, and in “managing the manager.” This is the most logical path to recognition, independence, and promotion.

In order to accomplish organizational goals, real leaders teach their teams both to lead and to follow. This book may well be the first to combine the actual practice of how:

1) Managers lead their teams, and

2) Teams can manage their managers

This real-world guide teaches the manager how to make decisions that get the most from his direct reports and his support system. This is — The Practice of Leadership.

This book also explains how team members can make recommendations to work most effectively with their managers and other parts of the organization. This is — The Practice of Followership.

The Memo recognizes that the work of the manager is to make decisions. And the research, options, and recommendations are best done by the manager’s team. The team recommends and then the boss decides.

The one word that describes this Completed Staff Work is “anticipation.”

The Memo will teach the manager and his team how to get it.


From the back cover:

The Memo page 2

The Memo
page 2

Much is known about how the Atom bomb helped the United States achieve the final victory in World War II.

However, little is known about a weapon perhaps even more powerful: a Memo. Classified “Restricted” by the U.S. War Department, the Memo contained a management doctrine under the subject of “Completed Staff Work.”

This memo turned military command structure on its head and re-focused on the power of staff instead of their commanders.

Simply put, instead of relying on Generals and senior leaders to think up solutions and then order Staff Officers to implement, Staff Officers would be charged with presenting fully developed solutions on which command could sign-off.

Now unclassified, this Memo holds valuable lessons that will help any employee advance in his or her career. Unlike books on leadership, The Memo emphasizes followership and shows aspiring employees how to advance by employing the power of teamwork to make their leaders successful.

Publication: 27 August 2017, Post Hill Press, distributed by Simon and Schuster.

Praise for The Memo,

“The business world is recognizing more and more the importance of effective teams in getting projects done and keeping all organizations nimble and innovative. Which makes this book—based on a once-secret military memo written decades ago—so timely, and, indeed, urgent.”—Steve Forbes, Editor-in-Chief, Forbes.

“Want to know how to manage a large organization in a way that frees you to actually LEAD and empowers your people to develop into leaders who will become far more than you pay them? Jack Yoest has captured this simple, but seemingly elusive concept by borrowing the memo that won WW II. Your assignment is probably not THAT big, but if it won a world war, it is definitely worth your time!” –Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas, presidential candidate.

Jack Yoest offers clear, concise advice on attaining great leadership and management tools based on a tried-and-true military technique. The Memo should be read by anybody who wants to lead a team efficiently and effectively — Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life

“An excellent primer for new managers, The Memo is also a great review for the experienced executive to revisit and improve his or her own leadership approach, and to identify opportunities to enhance organizational effectiveness.

The Memo brings together, in an interesting way, the author’s personal experience, with historical highlights of management, as developed and utilized by the U.S. military. With pertinent quotes from accomplished military and business leaders, Jack creates an excellent primer about decision-making and organizational effectiveness.

This is an excellent primer on leadership and management to optimize organizational effectiveness. I am recommending The Memo to my son as the first book he should read as he takes on the challenges of his first managerial position.”  Lawrence J. Blanford, Retired President and CEO of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc.

The Memo tells a new story of how to train leaders using Completed Staff Work.  Based on a World War II military management doctrine, Professor Yoest brings to life the art of getting work done in an organization.  He helps leaders to manage followers and followers to ‘lead’ their managers.  Every team will benefit from reading and applying the time-tested lessons. Make sure your team gets The Memo. Morton Blackwell, President, The Leadership Institute.

What the world needs more urgently than great CEOs is effective middle managers. THAT is the truly endangered species in the business world.

The memo is a how-to manual for anyone with a thirst for effectiveness and getting things done – a manual for the long lost art of “managing up.”

Get ready for an easy but fast-paced read which will provide you with delightful stories and a plethora of inspiring quotes. Every chapter ends with a word-focused summary and a few powerful reflection questions.

The book reflects the Jack Yoest I came to know over the past 5 years of teaching alongside him: A no-nonsense, getting it done kind of person who leaves you inspired not only to become a better business person, but a better Christian. — Andreas Widmer, Former CEO of Dragon Systems and author of The Pope & The CEO: John Paul II’s Leadership Lessons to a Young Swiss Guard

“If you’re a leader; a military general, a business executive, a football coach, or a new US president and were allowed one book to read, The Memo by John Yoest would be the one I recommend. The clarity of this superb book and the brilliance of the original WW2 document, Completed Staff Work, is the roadmap to success in decision-making. The staff prepares the decisions; the decision maker makes the decisions. Sounds simple. The Memo makes it so.”     —Ed Rollins, Former Reagan White House political advisor, Reagan Bush Campaign Manager, 1984, Hall of Fame Political Consultant 

“I wish Jack had written this years ago. This is a must-read for leaders of organizations and companies as well as smart employees who want to succeed. Time is the one thing we can’t create more of, but this book helps us become more efficient and more effective—both as managers and as staffers.”—Susan B. Hirschmann, CEO, Williams & Jensen, one of Washington, D.C.’s oldest independent lobbying firms.

“Whether you’re a newbie or an old pro, be a better, wiser, more professional, and successful manager by learning from the geniuses who managed our victory in WWII using many Biblical principles. My friend Jack Yoest’s book will empower you.”—Richard Viguerie, direct mail entrepreneur, chairman of

“A business grows when its leaders, managers, deputies, and employees succeed together. A great leader leads AND needs a great staff.  And a great staff follows AND empowers a great leader. All leaders, managers, and staffers should read this book. Jack Yoest teaches us all how to succeed – together – by being a successful team through the principles of an old military document.”     David Nammo, CEO, Christian Legal Society

Jack Yoest has the knack of simplifying leadership advice that others make unnecessarily complex. That’s why every business owner and startup entrepreneur should read this book. If you are looking for a crash course in how to lead and empower a team to deliver their all and make your business the success you dream it will be, get this book — today!   – Anita Campbell, Founder, and CEO, Small Business Trends.

Powerful. Timely. A must read. Leadership, teamwork & the strategy that helped win a war. What else could you want? Jack Yoest uncovers a strategy that is needed, more than ever, by today’s leaders. Jack Yoest knows leadership! I would follow Jack Yoest into battle any day. Sam Caucci, Founder & CEO, 1HUDDLE

“If you are interested in being better as a leader or follower, then this is a must-read. The Memo will occupy a special spot on your bookshelf between Message to Garcia and One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey. It defeats the confusion and fears that consume people when they set out to lead people and manage projects. This was an extremely satisfying read because it breaks the mold of the stuffy academic language and tone usually found in such works. This book will surely point you in the right direction on how to win your own leadership/management battles.”—James M. Kimbrough IV, Lieutenant Colonel, United States Army
Chair, Military Science Department, Professor of Military Science, The College of William and Mary & Christopher Newport University

“I selfishly asked to write an endorsement for The Memo because I wanted to get my hands on a copy of it well before it was released to the public. It’s fun, informative, and everything you’d expect from its charismatic author, Jack Yoest. Jack and The Memo are rare in that they are both academic and entertaining at the same time. You’re going to enjoy this… and you’re going to learn a lot” — Tim Young, Political Comedian, Host of No Things Considered

The Memo Yoest pubshot

By John Wesley Yoest, Jr.

Assistant Professor of Leadership and Management

The Busch School of Business

The Catholic University of America

Purchase here.


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71 Responses

  1. Gregory Holodak says:

    The idea of not relying fully on the general or commanding officer to make all decisions makes a lot of sense. Lower ranking soldiers are the ones on the front lines whereas generals tend to work behind the scenes. This gives soldiers insight and opinions that the generals do not get from their point of view. By listening to the soldiers and combing all points of view the whole army can be given a clear understanding as to what is happening. The same practice can be applied to business; CEO rather than general and lower level employees instead of soldiers.

  2. Adrienne Thompson says:

    One element that struck me the most while reading this article was the concept of “anticipation.” Whether is required within the military or business, anticipation is a key characteristic for leaders and followers. In order to work independently and as part of a team, leaders and followers use the concept of anticipation to plan ahead and manage tasks that can be done in the most efficient and effective manner. The leader anticipates what is best needed for the business or system as a whole, and the team anticipates what the leader needs based on the goal that is needed to be met. Through anticipation one can plan ahead, use time management to prioritize, and most importantly- get things done.

  3. Jack Egizi says:

    I do believe that a memo could be the real weapon to help the United States army win the war. Because actions are powerful, but they are always backed up by words and ideas that mean so much more. The United States was not the power house that it currently is, and needed direction in order to be more successful in the war. Without direction, atomic bombs can misfire and go to the wrong place. An army is nothing without direction and a leader, its just a group of followers. The memo being the secret weapon makes perfect sense. America needed direction to be more successful in the war and that memo gave them just that.

  4. Hans Wartenberg says:

    The military, as exemplified by the restricted memo, relies on manager and staff relationships similar to business. If the commanding officer, similar to the manager, were to give an order and the subordinate staff chose not to listen or do not have respect for the commanding officer due to some disparate treatment, the entire operation could be in jeopardy. Business and big projects are the same way and rely on a cohesiveness between the commanding officer/manager and the staff. It is precisely this cohesiveness or ability to listen and be listened to that makes efficient completed staff work possible. The commanding officer/manager needs to listen to his staff and the staff needs to listen to the commanding officer/manager. The respect and mutual understanding goes both ways and can be the difference between something as critical as winning or losing a war.

  5. Elizabeth Gittings says:

    “Anticipation”. I believe that no one can ever be too prepared and I think that this specific word represents a characteristic that makes up a good leader. With this in mind, a leader should never plan for the best, and cannot achieve the best without trusted workers. The relationship between a worker and his boss is one that should be reciprocal and open so as to ensure a flow of ideas to execute the optimal plan. Especially during WWII there was no time to send approvals back and forth. Each second mattered in the race against Germany and the military made an executive decision to, in essence, take out a lot of the executive power. This promoted a positive work environment which also proved successful and a new stepping way for every business today.

  6. Aws Alkhashrami says:

    I like how the Memo focuses on two important aspects about the relationship between managers and employees: the teamwork and the decisions made by the manager. When the team does the research, options, and recommendations, the manager has to examine their work and make a decision. These two aspects are consequential and they are intertwined because when the team completes the work, it has to be approved by the boss in order to make a final decision. I believe that it is necessary for the team members to make sure that they are as efficient as possible, so that the manager could make the best decision.

  7. Kathleen Roszyk says:

    All good work systems comprise of employees that perform together in unity, to “get things done,” both on time and efficiently. Although one typically thinks that the most important role in the hierarchy is the top/boss’s leadership, the followership of the staff merits great importance as well. In today’s workforce, a supported, motivated team that works both independently and as a team creates a productive, thriving environment. In many of today’s retail companies, the sales support employees have the authority to accept returns, honor special sales, and make other decisions. This formerly “management only” decision-making authority now allows for quick decisions that aid in retaining happy customers and happy empowered employees.

  8. Brenden Amanto says:

    Two things jumped out at me when reading this article. First, the idea that staffers would come to the generals with solutions, not problems, second, that there is such thing as a “magic secret sauce” to running a good business. The idea that staffers can come to any boss or manager with a solution to a problem is key in the mid of a boss or leader. No manager, general, or boss wants to be presented with a problem and have no solution to it. The subordinate or the staffer will have much better success if he or she is presenting a solution along with that problem. Second, there is no such thing as a “secret sauce”, every company is different and with that different employees. Meaning that there is not going to be an exact formula that will make the company grow it will vary from company to company. However, if everyone in the company is on the same page and has the same ethical, moral and goal in mind the company will grow and prosper from the top down.

  9. Brian Rogers says:

    This section gives us great insight on how important the followers or employees are to the success of a business or in this case a military. Many times bosses or generals are working behind the scenes on the bigger issues that will affect the outcome of the entire business. It is important that the employees in the “frontline” are able to tackle the everyday minor problems that may come up in the course of business. Because they are able to deal with these problems themselves it allows the managers to only deal with bigger issues and have confidence that the everyday office will be efficient even in their absences.

  10. Phil Pastrone says:

    I think a key point from this article is how this book is intended for both leaders and followers. Leading and Following are often looked at as two jobs that are complete opposites. In reality a good follower should be practicing a certain level of leadership, and a good leader should certainly know how to follow. He must know how to follow because he must be open to ideas from his subordinates who have greater expertise in certain areas than he does. The Memo is so perfect for enhancing productivity of the team because it promotes teamwork and active following in the right way.

  11. Grant Cz. says:

    This is all very interesting, the concept of followers having some decision making power. I like this concept because in the long run it does provide a more efficient and new way to get shit done and a radically different business model where followers have power and are not bossed around and commanded. I don”t like the idea however that people believe there is a “secret formula” like there is with a Krabby Patty. Businesses are different, they each run certain ways, they each run efficiently using different methods and sometimes changing how a business runs can be a very good thing.

  12. Cai Li Pleshe says:

    The way to get work done is through the help of others. Even if your title isn’t a leader title, you can still be one in your job. Real leaders teach their teams how to lead and follow. Managers are leaders for their teams helping them dig into their potential. The manager’s team can also manage the manager. The team researches and comes up with the ideas and he manager makes the final decision. In the case of the military, the US won because of the leadership of subordinates. Without the help of the subordinates, the result may have been different.

  13. Megan Reilly says:

    I think the concept of “Completed Staff Work” can be best summed up in two relationships: the relationship between anticipation and execution, and the relationship between a manager and his staff. Work can best be accomplished in an environment that allows staff members to anticipate the needs of the boss. In a decentralized work environment, decision-making occurs where the information is- at staff level. Work gets executed by those best informed and best qualified, thus generating the best results for a manager. The best way for a manager to “work” is by directing staff work down a productive and beneficial path for future company growth.

  14. Bernardo Guillamon says:

    What struck out to me the most was the quote, “organizations actually succeed through the motivation of others”. Motivating others and giving them the power to come up with ideas for themselves is a very powerful tool for managing and important for promoting teamwork. When the Staff Officers had to present fully developed solutions and present them to their superiors to sign-off on outlines a very important point. Making your team members come up with solutions and ideas causes them to think and having everyone think of solutions on their own improves the team’s productivity and efficiency. Having 100 people thinking of ideas is better than having 10. Therefore, it would cause the leaders to lead better and the team members to learn, grow, and influence each other.

  15. Gabriel Daviu Molinari says:

    Giving lower ranking soldiers the decision making ability is extremely important for a team to work efficiently. These higher ranking officers such as generals should be focused on the big picture of the war. The lower ranking officers, however, are in the front lines and they are where the action happens. they are the first to know what happens when it happens. As said in class the decision making should be passed to who has the information. The subordinates are who are there can work on the smaller problems and situations. Not everything should be passed by the General’s desk. If the decision making is also passed down the feeling of importance to the subordinates, where morale and efficiency increase.

  16. Jake Heisler says:

    “The Allies won, said Drucker, their victory achieved by management.” This quote is a testament to the American way of perfecting and excelling. Further on in the article, it is mentioned that there is much less literature on how to be a good follower than there is on how to be a good leader. I believe this is partly from everyone’s inner drive to be a “more important” person in the world; however, people without the understanding of what a good follower should do most likely can’t be a good leader. Understanding the minds of the follower is just as important as understanding how to be a leader. Once both attributes are attained, then real leadership can ensue.

  17. Liam Darcy says:

    The key idea brought forth that was striking to me was that is the role of the manager to foster local knowledge. It is the role of the manager to delegate responsibilities and set forth a plan in place but it is the role of the staff to accomplish these goals using their own tacit knowledge. When workers are more empowered they are able to fulfill organizational goals without being asked. When workers can act successfully on their own accord the production time decreases exponentially for they do not have to wait for direction or instruction.

  18. William Lashar says:

    What stuck out most for me was the statement near the end of the article, “instead of relying on Generals and senior leaders to think up solutions and then order Staff Officers to implement, Staff Officers would be charged with presenting fully developed solutions on which command could sign-off.” This struck well with me because last summer I had a job in which I or other employees at my level would offer solutions to the manager or people higher up in the company and were immediately written off like we were worthless. Had the company implemented a system like the US military did, there may have been much more production throughout the summer and in the future as it would boost the employees’ morale and encourage teamwork.

  19. Jay Howard says:

    I believe this article did a great job in highlighting the people who are not in high positions of power, along with the people who are leaders. The people who are not in those positions of power should still obtain some type of leadership capabilities. The military is a great example; sometimes the non-commissioned officers will have to make decisions even without an officers insight. This makes work get completed more efficiently if your “followers” can lead. Similar to a business environment, the “commissioned officer” or manager that is leading should put trust into the workers below them. This makes a business friendly environment and puts more capabilities in the ones below the manager. Lastly, I agreed with the way this article describes a leader and the ideas about listening and cohesiveness between leaders and followers.

  20. Brian Curley says:

    You should always work like the boss even when your title says differently. It is important to have a CEO mindset because that is the only way you will work your way up to that position. If an entire company acts as if every person is a boss then it would run extremely efficiently. Your mindset should never change in business just as your work ethic should never, they should remain constant.

  21. Raymond A. Watson says:

    One word that is mentioned in this article is anticipation. This word has a greater meaning regarding the example of the US military and normal businesses. In a world full of difficult tasks and unnerving situations, anticipation must be a primary key for leaders and followers. Leaders and followers must be able to anticipate any type of task or situation so they can help the business itself. The Leader must be able to anticipate what is the best path to take in order to help the business, meanwhile the followers must anticipate how to help further the managers own needs so everyone can be on the same page and helping the business achieve its main objective. I found that anticipation is really necessary not only in a business environment, but in life. We must all be able to anticipate any type of plan or situation because nobody knows what might happen and how it can affect them.

  22. Katarina Percopo says:

    “Real leaders teach their teams to both lead and to follow” These words are so true and are quite powerful. A leader is supposed to give their team the knowledge and skills to follow them but to also stand up and help lead. It is important in business to make sure that managers teach their employees to follow them and to also be a leader and get work done and come up with ideas and solutions to any problems that may arise in the workplace. A boss need their team to step up and research and come up with solutions to bring to the boss instead of bringing problems, this helps a manager to be able to make decisions and not have to come up with all the ideas and solutions.

  23. Michael Cavanaugh says:

    Completed staff work in the United States military helped us win World War 2. This is because it allows for things to get done and a strong management system. This is because completed staff work calls for strong subordinates. Strong subordinates are able to work both independantly and as part of a team, and can often be a leader in their position. The article describes the most logical path to recognition, independence, and promotion as being able to manage the manager. This is because when a subordinate manages the manager it makes the life of the manager a whole lot easier. It allows for more stuff to get done as well as shows the employee in better light to the manager. If an employee can anticipate the needs of the manager or what it takes to get stuff done it allows for the advancement of employees.

  24. Abayomi Adebayo says:

    This article was interesting because it highlighted how a memo may have saved the United Stated of America in World War II. What I got from this article was how it is important for the boss and his or her employees to have a good relationship. This means there is mutual trust and respect. The boss must also know that he must listen to the employees. In the case of the article it was the soldiers I the front line. They know exactly what is going on and their opinions should have strong value. A boss who take their employees comments into consideration will likely have more success than if they only do it their way.

  25. Hasan Abuzinadah says:

    Memo is a very important thing in the business world. It’s also important in any serious matter like the one mentioned in the article. Also this articls emphasize on how the relationship between a boss and his employees should be. It also shows how the boss and his employees must have trust between them . The articles also gives a good explanation how a leader should be.

  26. Abdulmajeed Anwar says:

    The article describes how a memo can help both the manager and the staff. It gives an insight on what is expected of the manager and the staff of an organization. It also emphasizes the importance of individual effort in a team and the kind of relationship that should exist between a manager and his or her team.

  27. Adel Alqurashi says:

    It seems to me this article explains well how mangers should not only lead but also be lead. A good manager knows how to lead. But how does he know? He knows because a good manager will let his employees lead (to a certain extent) and manage their unity. A good manager does not dictate the path of a company rather, he keeps the employees together as they lead the company to success. A good manager knows how to lead others but does not become tyrannical.

  28. James Holden says:

    The United States and the Allies were able to win World War II because their militaries maximized proficiency at all levels of the organization. It is a common misconception that the military’s success is heavily reliant on the highest ranking officers and less on those at the bottom of the totem pole. A machine is functioning at its best when every part (no matter how small) is doing its job. In business, just like the United States in World War II, they key to success is completed staff work. The Memo focuses on how managers can lead their team and how teams can manage their managers. The thought of a follower “managing” their boss sounds paradoxical but what this really means is for a worker to always have their basic staff work completed and to anticipate what the boss needs next. The job of the manager is simply to make decisions. The manager is able to make the best decision after any research is completed and the staff is ready to provide him with a few options. The boss wants to see that an employee can do the job of a follower as well as the job of a manager. Coming to the boss with a plan already formulated will always earn you points.

  29. Elizabeth Meng says:

    The sentiment that things are accomplished “not by superior arms as we often imagine, but by getting things done,” can be aptly applied to just about anything. The difference between getting things done poorly and accomplishing something great would then be the quality of each step of the process. This is where the little guy come in. Even when a manager is really great, she cannot do everything. In reality, she may not do any of the actual work. It is vital that she hire capable people who produce excellent pieces of a project, contributing to a brilliant end result.

  30. Khaled Agha says:

    I believe this article touches on very important aspects when it comes to the military and business. Like a soldier, an employee follows orders from their superiors, but it is important to remember that without the base nothing stands strong. Sometimes the diversity of thoughts and ideas is exactly what a manager would like to see implemented. They do indeed make the decision but they are just as susceptible to error as anybody else. Great leaders military and business alike, will always try to do things collectively and keep everybody on the same page. Without unity there is no team work, and without that there is no mission.

  31. Kristen Kitrick says:

    The most successful organizations are the ones in which employees at all levels take ownership of their work. While good leadership is important in the military or any other organization, the employees are the ones who ultimately get the intended goal across the finish line. When a leader can empower his team to work together but also take the lead as needed, great things can happen. The article summarizes this well by saying, “…real leaders teach their teams to both lead and to follow. “ These words are especially true because I think sometimes even though our job descriptions may not include leadership, we may find ourselves needing to step up when called upon. The idea of knowing how to be a good follower AND a good leader is very critical in this way. The more versatile you are, the better of an employee you will be.

  32. Cheryl Haynes says:

    Completed Staff Work is anticipating the needs of the team and superior and doing what is needed for management and the team.
    Anticipation makes for an excellent team member, what is next major milestone and how is it to be achieved. Anticipation is used at the hospital in the operating room, in spots on the ice and multiple places. Comment Completed Staff Work is anticipating the need for the team and superior and doing what is needed for management and the team.

    The surgery nurse anticipates the needs of the surgeon and surgery implements are available before the surgeon asks for it. The end result is a successful surgery, the surgeon looks good and the team adds another notch to their belt.
    The Wayne Gretzky in his anticipation Skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been. Gretzky is one of the greatest hockey players and his hockey style positively impacted his team’s performance.

  33. Laura Dunn says:

    I am fascinated by the idea of literature based on the follower instead of the leader. People always assume that leadership is the most important part of a management system and that it must be focused on the most, however, followship is just as important. Followers listen to what they are told and adhere to rules and instructions, but I am glad that this book goes into further detail about what makes the best followers. I really like the point that managers must be managed, and it is the job of the followers to do so. The story of Completed Staff Work from World War II provides a great example of these concepts of management. I was also very impressed by the reviews of this book because there were so many important people who responded positively to this book at the end of the article.

  34. Josephine Livingston says:

    As a team, working together as a unit is a must! In order to” get great results” everyone plays a vital part, not just the Director. As with any organization, you are only good as the “head.” As the manager or director, he/she must have leadership skill, be involved in the growth and development of their employee. If you are only focusing on the task which is needed to be done, there will be problems (internal) and bad feelings. In order to avoid conflicts, when assigning any task, management should see that the task fits the individual. Once this done, it helps the employee and the organization. The lone ranger, cannot get the impossible task done without the of support of his/her employee. As the Director, train your leaders to use the skills to help the employee grow and give feed back on the their performance.

  35. Alexandra Hohensee says:

    I admire the phrase “getting work done through the thinking support of others” because it applies to everyone in the organization, not just the managers. While the key (and historically-based) thrust of The Memo is the manager’s ability to get things done through his subordinates, it is also true that a staff worker must similarly inspire confidence and a desire for teamwork in their peers in order to obtain the information necessary to present decision points to management. Just as the leader voices the broader strategy, the subordinate is best placed to research the minutiae and confidently recommend the solution that will ensure that strategy’s success.

  36. Debra Washington says:

    Have you ever wondered why the military and many corporations enjoy so much success? It’s not because the CEO or the generals devised a great plan, it stems from the folks in the trenches, those individuals that process the day to day activities, they know what works and what doesn’t and often times devise the plans or processes that lead to success. They are the ones that get things done without hesitation or recognition. However; a good manager or leader identifies the strengths and talents of the team and relies upon them to propose the best course of action, pro’s and con’s and using that information to make the best decision possible. Good managers are adept at leading when necessary and learning how to value the opinions and expertise of the staff along with understanding that no one can achieve success without help or assistance .

  37. MITCHELL CRICK says:

    I found the observation of followership interesting because in other courses I have taken we talk a lot about leadership, but the fact is that not all can have a leadership role but we can all be leaders in our respective roles, and the article notes that “This is the most logical path to recognition, independence, and promotion.” This idea of “managing the manager” is also a good one in that when that promotion and independence comes, you will understand the subordinate much better and be able to help others in their roles.

  38. Kuda Mundopa says:

    The notion of teamwork in the military is evident in contemporary HR practices. Organizations such as SHRM provide a platform for crucial alliances. These alliances have given organizations clout in lobbying for laws. This can be correlated with the collaboration of the allies to achieve the common goal of victory during WWII. Their victory required the existence of a common goal that required these vital partnerships. Leadership and execution strategies benefit from the variety of styles in these instances. The manner in which plans are executed in organizations is influenced by this idea of inclusivity. This broader scope of alliances has contributed to the evolution of the HR domain. The reason why HR plays a more prominent role in large organizations is a result of these noble principles.

  39. Mark Duffy says:

    The first thing that really caught my eye was when you talked about managers leading their teams, but also the importance of teams leading their managers. In the business world, teamwork is essential. Leaders are very important in being successful, but it is important to note that even the leaders can learn from their peers. As a relatively new baseball coach, I am still learning how to adjust from a player to a coach. This is something that my players have helped me with. Thanks to them, I am able to successfully lead them and vice versa when I need their help. This is so important in any business. As I talked about this before, it is not easy to do anything by yourself in this world. This only stresses the importance of teamwork.

  40. Kamari Hunter says:

    After going through the article the first thing that came to mind was transformational leadership. The Transformational Leadership Theory originated from Bernard Bass in his publishing of Leadership and Performance: Beyond Expectations (1985). Bass views leadership as a transformational process, meaning that effective leadership is displayed when a leader can instill self-efficacy and motivation into his/her followers (Bass, 1985). This directly connects how our military is able to achieve success. I am interested to read further about the “secret sauce” related to building this type of culture into any type of organization.

  41. Jelena Cobanovic says:

    The article covers very important facts about running a successful business. I believe that without a leader, it is extremely difficult to manage any organization as the employees need someone to be in charge and makes the right choices. A leader has to have a clear vision and the ability to influence his or her team in order to work towards and achieve the company’s goals. Being an effective leader is a very important piece, but I am intrigued how the article puts an emphasis on how “in order to accomplish organizational goals, real leaders teach their teams both to lead and follow”. Every leader needs to push his or her employees to show and bring forth their full potential and give their very best effort at any task. This will not only help the individual grow, but the entire business. It is essential that all employees help each other and work together in order to have a successful team and business.

  42. Hamad Almarri says:

    The article is a significant case because of the fact that it develops a relationship between the managers and employees. The major focus which can benefit the US in the war as well as the team leadership of the Military servicemen reveals one of the aspect. This aspect is that the role of managerial capacities also plays significant role in the positions where the autocrats remain the major element i.e. military as rules are tougher there. The Memo also casted a strong and better image of manager. The human resource philosophies and capabilities also play significant role in military leadership as well.

  43. Pierre-Carmel Guerrier says:

    Leadership and Fellowship in completed staff work is a product that the leaders would need to promote and make decision. The value of the organization is dwelt on the subordinates contributions. With the collaboration of the team, leaders can promote their leadership through their fellowship. As leaders, they can employ their management techniques such as the assumption of autonomy of the team, approval responsibilities for themselves and the team, they can prevent going back and forth, it can affect management traits and skills approach. Thinking about completed staff is to present your plan, so that you can have a review and provide recommendation that would enhance and promote the reputation of the organization.

  44. Pierre-Carmel Guerrier says:

    It is a great article, in the business environment we should wear different hats, you can be friendly with your subordinates to avoid the hostility in the work place. We should come to an agreement, where the leaders from CEO to supervisors or mid -management are able to listen to each other. In order to promote an organization. Us military is a great example of business, but these leaders will make decisions, work on the mission of the company, it is not about having the power, it is about whom they represent,. They need to be effective, because at the end of their journey, they will have different insights.

  45. Joanna Thurston says:

    The article discusses how all organizations are still struggling to find the “perfect plan” or the “magic sauce” to get the work or product out on time and efficiently. The article outlines how the Memo unveils the history, origin, and application of decision making and how to complete a plan. The article goes on to discuss the relationship between managers and their staff. The article goes on to discuss how many numerous books there are on being good leaders but nothing on how to be a good subordinate. The Memo focuses on Followership and Leadership and how subordinates can manager their managers. The book also has a hybrid of “actual and practice” to accomplish an organization’s goals. The Memo is an excellent read for managers and team members.

  46. Lucius Mapp says:

    My analysis of the memo focuses on the relationship between the employees and the managers. I realized how the team does the research and makes recommendations and the managers must examine the work and make an informed decision. It is extremely important to realize how decision making can dictate how a plan can go. In an idealistic society, all employees from the very top down to the workers are able to come to the table together and listen to each others opinions to come to a conclusion that would best fit everyone. I believe successful businesses listen to the workers because they deal with the work on a daily basis.

  47. Cheryl Haynes says:

    Complete Staff Work looks at management is both directions. Managers lead their team and the team can manage their managers. This provides a means of synergy with the organization, everyone is striving to accomplish the organizational goals.
    For a manager to lead their team the manager must depend on the team to make the small decision and leave only the big one for his approval. The approval would be given to well developed and reviewed project or proposal. The team would check for any discrepancies, legal or financial obligations, and any other potential pitfall. The recommendation presented will be best they can deliver. This results in the manager approval as the only requirement. Base on the completed work by the staff the manager approves. The team manages the manger by anticipating their needs and providing for them.

  48. striker reese says:

    I am still in the process of reading the memo but found myself actually interested in it. So many times I feel business books can be stuffy and filled with so much jargon that it makes it hard to see how practical things are. The difference in two business selling the exact same thing with the same price one can fail and the other can thrive. Often times the answer is management. The difference between a good business and a bad one.

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  50. Anna Piasek says:

    I found very interesting the idea of relationship between leader and his followers. The Memo helped me understand the true position of the leader as a part of the team. Essentially, manager is the person who makes decisions and takes responsibilities but this is very narrow approach. Completely new to me was the fact that the leader might, or even should be able to follow his subordinates. Learn from them, listen to their ideas, let them share the knowledge and profit from it by making right decisions. In the end, getting work done is mutual team effort and its extremely significant to empower and encourage followers who are the foundation of the organization. Completed Staff Work refers also to the trust that leader gives to his subordinates by allowing them making decisions. Completed Staff Work takes place when the leader is absent but work is still done in the same way such as he was there. I like that John Yoest provides many examples based on real events and facts which is immensely helpful in developing the understanding of leadership.

  51. Anna Piasek says:

    I found very interesting the idea of relationship between leader and his followers. The Memo helped me understand the true position of the leader as a part of the team. Essentially, manager is the person who makes decisions and takes responsibilities but this is very narrow approach. Completely new to me was the fact that the leader might or even should be able to follow his subordinates. Learn from them, listen to their ideas, let them share the knowledge and profit from it by making right decisions. In the end, getting work done is mutual team effort and its extremely significant to empower and encourage followers who are the foundation of the organization. Completed Staff Work refers also to the trust that leader gives to his subordinates by allowing them making decisions. I like that John Yoest provides many examples based on real events and facts which is immensely helpful in developing the understanding of leadership.

  52. Jeremy Speikes says:

    I’ve taken leadership courses and there is always the discussion in the difference of being a manager and being a leader. From this synopsis I hope The Memo will show the correct techniques from both prospective and how to marry the two. Good working relationships, just like personal relationships rely on trust. Subordinates need to be able to trust their managers to make the correct decisions and managers need to trust that the work their subordinates are completing will help them make the correct decisions. When that trust is built, and goals are aligned, getting the work done should fall in place.

  53. Kira says:

    “Organizations actually succeed on through the motivation of others” is a very true statement. As a leader one must inspire individuals to complete a goal collectively. It is the efforts of the team that make the dream work. It is interesting how this article suggests that leaders develop an exchange with each of their subordinates, because I believe that is true. The quality of these leader–member exchange relationships influences assistants’ responsibility, decisions, and access to resources and lead to better performance. Having a mutual respectable relationship between a boss and the employees helps make the organization stronger. It’s a great way to build allies in the company.

  54. Tylicia Jones says:

    I was impressed with the overall concept of Anticipation. Anticipation seems to be the key characteristic for effective leaders and managers. Secondly,
    I admire the concept of “getting work done through the thinking support of others” because when you think about it, it applies to everyone in the organization as a whole, not just the managers. The cohesiveness of management and some form of Completed Staff work is essential because organizations tend to make better decisions and put out better solutions.

  55. Molly M says:

    Flipping the concept of a management book to focus on followership is an interesting take. Followers greatly outnumber the amount of leaders in society, and yet, we focus so much on the leaders. It’s important to foster good followership, as often, good followers can become good leaders. A lot of people that make the best leaders were once followers of someone else. They use their time as followers to learn what is effective through personal experience, and can in turn use it to be a leader.
    The focus on followership is a welcomed take.

  56. Kayli Paugh says:

    While reading this article, I would definitely say that I am anxious and looking forward to reading the rest of the book. The idea of how leaders and followers, or managers and employees, interact has always been an interesting topic. One thing that I am hoping to take away would be insights and advice on how to tackle differences when it involves these two groups of people. Even if you are a leader, you have been a follower at some point in your life, and the same for the sides reversed. So, knowing where the other person or groups of people are coming from and understanding and communicating effectively is important to lead to success. The idea of “anticipation” sparks my interest and I want to see how it is related to the relationships among people in the work place environment.

  57. Tiana Saunders says:

    The memo changes our focus to the workers of the company, they are the driving force in companies and keep them moving. A lot of times workers keep the companies a float during bad times and can help to guide their managers during projects. Managers help guide their teams but have to make sure they do it in the correct manner to keep their staff working cohesively as a group. This book is a nice take on working culture in a different light.

  58. Priscilla S. says:

    I feel like the “Completed Staff Work” method has helped a lot when it comes to viewing someone else’s perspective of things which in this case were the staffers. Since they are the one who are on the floor, handling things on-site, they are the ones to really grasp what is needed to help improve their business. If the manager sees that this is reasonable and done correctly as the method has shown, then they would not hesitate to sign their names on it.

  59. Priscilla Sanchez says:

    I feel like the “Completed Staff Work” method has helped a lot when it comes to viewing someone else’s perspective of things which in this case were the staffers. Since they are the one who are on the floor, handling things on-site, they are the ones to really grasp what is needed to help improve their business. If the manager sees that this is reasonable and done correctly as the method has shown, then they would not hesitate to sign their names on it.

  60. Beatriz Fernandes says:

    Since I have been exposed to this concept of “followership” the “business” concept was suddenly simplified.
    Not having a background on military subjects (nor business), this book introduced me to both in a fluid and natural way. After all, the ideas that I had were that there is always a higher and deeper voice commanding all the other that in silence act and march. This book proves my ideas completely right, and at the same time, completely wrong.
    Giving some historical examples, the author allows me to understand that indeed things work the way I thought… when things go wrong! Leadership is after all holding hands with Followership and the Management is the dynamic between both, not “how to be the boss.”

    Unfortunately there are a lot of other books “louder” than this concept that motivate to that solitary summit of the bossy manager, but this book motivates a team to be one. Hierarchy is then something of respect and a fountain of knowledge – knowing before anything else that no one knows everything, but everyone together might.

  61. Nicole J says:

    Completed staff work is the doctrine that staff members ought to propose and completely work out problems, and present final solutions to their managers, which the manager can simply choose to accept or reject. This process demonstrates the staff members’ ability to identify and think through problems, and frees managers up from having to solve problems for the staff. Using this method, employees are discouraged from asking their manager for help solving the problem, but are encouraged to work with other non-management team members to devise solutions. Completed staff work seems like a good way for employees to develop their analysis and decision-making skills, and for managers to free up time to devote to more pressing managerial tasks

  62. Emily Rollo says:

    The part I found most interesting was the practice of followership. I think it is often underestimated how important it is for followers to feel that they can influence their managers. No business should be entirely run in a top-down fashion. Ultimately, leaders make the final decisions, but leaders are most effective when their followers give ideas and feedback. This promotes an inclusive and democratic business environment which is the most effective. I am a swim coach, and this is a tough concept for captains/senior leaders to understand. In order for them to be the best leaders, they need to offer the underclassmen opportunity for their input on how the team can be better. Many times, leaders dismiss their followers and businesses or teams suffer because of it.

  63. Euclides Rengifo says:

    For me this book is very important because I have military experience and I agree with the excellent approach of the chapters of the book, because it allows that all the people who are managers or are in the process of being able to structure strategies that in the future would take them to the success, starting from discipline, objectivity and the ability to develop strategies that lead to the right decision making.

    On the other hand, it is important to know that military experience helps the human being enrich their professional profile, so that they know how to value human resources as a fundamental part of the organization, just as those who have not had military experience can learn about different strategies which are important for the future of an organization.

  64. Euclides Rengifo says:

    In my case I have military experience And I also know how important is the discipline and the development of strategies to maintain success in an organization as well as the importance of human resources to be able to achieve success understanding that each of the People around us are important and play a strategic role for the organization.

    This book is very important because it allows people who have military experience to share it so that the managers of the companies of tomorrow can know these perspectives to be successful in their management of organizations. And also be able to know that human resources are a part important of an organization.

  65. Mayara Correa Bonamichi says:

    Completed Staff Work changed my way of viewing how a manager should work. Everybody wants to get things done but nobody knows the best way to do it, that is why most of the organizations don’t understand why their projects are not completed on time or within the budget.
    I agree with what the post states, that the books about leadership and management focus more in the person that is the manager and not in the staff and everybody else that makes part of the project. Most of the books teach that the manager needs to think about solutions and then ask the staff to execute, and the Completed Staff Work shows the opposite, the staff researches and explores all the possibilities, develops a solution, presents to the manager and the manager just needs to approve, disapprove, or request any changes, the objective in this case is a finished recommendation submitted in a written form.
    I think the study and understand of the relationship between manager and staff are necessary and inevitable to all the managers, and Completed Staff Work helps to understand how to get the best of each subordinate and focus in followership to get the work done.

  66. Andrew Thomas says:

    Traditional leadership focuses on the manager’s role by coercing and enabling a group to reach a common goal. However, Completed Staff Work flips that idea on its head by empowering their followers to construct solutions for actionable change. The idea of promoting self-autonomy and problem solving within follower is profound. This management style is essential for companies to stay agile in an ever-changing market. A successful manager must be able to develop their team in such a way that they do not rely on the manager for all the answers. An exemplary follower will think of ways to improve the state of their organization and gain a competitive edge within the market before a manager task them to do so.

  67. Brittany Brooks says:

    I think this article is very interesting. I think giving another perspective on management is very important. I think that fellowship is a great way to think about things. I think learning by example is very important. Just because you are learning from someone does not make you less of a leader. Everyone has to learn from someone or from an experience.

  68. Cathy Radjou says:

    One of the points that really caught my eye was that organizations really succeed when they are motivating others. I saw this truly come true at my workplace. I found that rather than focusing on myself, and shifting the focus to my team we were able to beat goals. I think it is really powerful when a person can take ownership and leadership in the given position. I have seen this structure really help my teams in the past and it also really works for my current employer.

  69. David Wright says:

    Strong leadership recognizes the importance of having capable people who thrive under stressful situations as well as in the absence of leadership.

  1. January 12, 2017

    […] The Memo: Leadership and Followership in Completed Staff Work […]

  2. October 17, 2017

    […] memo on Completed Staff Work appears in General Douglas MacArthur’s papers, now declassified. The memo […]

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