Not sure where I first read the speech, but it left a lasting impression. The D-Day speech General Eisenhower did not have to give:
“Our landings have failed and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”
It is a little footnote of history. The landings went well, the war eventually won. Books were written, movies made, and heroes created. But it is the illustration of a fundamental trait of leadership that makes the handwritten speech so impressive.
With all the speech making, sound bites, “news cycle” noise that surrounds us, I keep thinking back to one of those Leadership 101 ideals:
When the news is good, use the terms “the team”, “we” and “they” and ensure the credit goes to others.
When the news is bad, use the terms “I”, “me” and “mine” and take the blame.
Simple thing really, but it is the mark of great leadership. There are so many things that go into being a good leader – decision-making, conviction, consistency, vision, and on and on, but one standard remains. Leaders take the blame and give the credit.