Flattery is betrayal
In response to the On Leadership question: Can Americans handle the painful truth about government budget deficits -- that getting them under control will require both tax increases and cuts in government services -- or will they reject any leader who dares to deliver it? What's a leader to do?
In April 2009, Defense Secretary Robert Gates made the rounds to speak to military leaders at the Senior Service Colleges and future leaders at West Point. At that point, he was establishing his priorities for the Fiscal Year 2011 DOD budget, which would cut several military service programs and refocus efforts to ensure relevance in defense issues.
In his role as the principal defense policy advisor to the president, Secretary Gates was making tough calls, not only to our president but also to the over two million members (uniformed and civilian) of the Department of Defense. He delivered this message:
"Sir Francis Bacon was a 17th century jurist and philosopher as well as a confidante of the senior minister of England's King James. He gave this advice to a protégé looking to follow in his steps at court: 'Remember well the great trust you have undertaken; you are as a continual sentinel, always to stand upon your watch to give [the king] true intelligence. If you flatter him, you betray him.' Remember that. If you flatter him, you betray him."
As public servants, we demean and betray our citizens if we do not provide them with the brutal facts and truths. We expect candor and professional advice from our military leaders and, I believe, that no matter how uncomfortable it may be, we deserve to hear the same from civilian leaders.
Posted by: shadowmagician | February 4, 2010 12:16 PM
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