The First Line Manager: Are You Similar to a General Eisenhower or a General Patton?

In most respects a business first line manager is not comparable to an Ike or a Patton. We are not as powerful as these men. We can learn from their passion. Their passion was different. Their passion suited their role. They need each other. Ike’s passion is like that of a CEO’s. Patton’s passion is like a front line manager’s.

Ike’s organizational and political passions are keys to winning the war. He holds together a coalition military generals; he keeps them focused on fighting the enemy and not each other. He keeps peace between the political powers of America, England, and Russia. Ike keeps his passions in control to carry out his task. Ike is a man of the military hierarchy. He implements his decisions using this hierarchy. Patton is very different.

Patton’s passion feeds on and from his men. His focus is on transferring his passion for defeating Germany to his men. His drive is to defeat the Germans man to man. I read both volumes of Patton’s Papers. I relate to his effort to instill in the front line soldiers his passion. Patton is Ike’s Sherman; he makes bold moves on the front lines. His passion to win carries out Ike’s mission. Patton communicates his front line needs to General Bradley. General Bradley passes this information to Ike. This communication is critical to the defeat of Germany. Patton’s fight for supplies is as critical to his success as his fight against the Germans. Patton has no respect for or inclination to use the military hierarchy.

Here is my conclusion. The movie “Patton” is a great movie. Movies are about people with great passions. I do not think a movie about Ike would be successful.

How does this relate to a first line manager? Business success depends on the first line manager’s passion to carry out his mission. This passion is a doer’s passion. The first line manager must build and support processes to carry out his departments mission. This manager must transfer a passion to the first line employee to carry out this mission. First line managers work with employees on the first line. They feed off the success of their employees.

First line managers know their managers are important to the success of the first line. First line managers carry out decisions of the business hierarchy. First line managers work with their managers to make business decisions. First line managers have no hierarchy to carry out their decisions. They must work with employees face to face.

As a first line manager, I am doer. I am very organized; but, in a different way than my manager. My organization is for the daily activities the business. I am not a political person, “what you see is what you get”. I am similar to the fortune-telling eight ball; ask it a question and get an answer. You may, or may not, like the answer. My answer is straight up, based on what I know and feel. This answer is not political; my managers may not like my answer. First line managers are doers this is our passion. I am more like a General Patton.

I have great respect for Ike and Patton. My passion is more in tune with Patton’s. I recommend the book by General Omar Bradley, “A Solder’s Story”. Bradley’s book tells his story of how we won the war against Germany. This story gives his feeling about General Eisenhower and General Patton passions. One of Omar’s first statements in the book is, “If a soldier would command an army he must be prepared to withstand those who would criticize the manner in which he leads that army.”

First line manager be prepared to withstand.

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About OJ

I am a retired first line manager with over 40 years of experience. In operations management, accounting management, and central operations management. It is my wish to convey some of the experiences I have learned form over the years in the articles on my site.
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