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MAY 2016



Foreign Service Journal


The Management Crisis


hat does all the talk about “management” mean?

Civil Service Commission Chairman Macy devoted

most of his AFSA luncheon talk to it. Deputy Undersec-

retary Crockett rarely gets to his feet without stressing

“management,” and the FSI runs regular seminars on the


There are indications that the aver-

age FSO who has served as chief of

mission in one or most posts is per-

plexed. He blithely assumes that he

has been effectively “managing” his

posts, and that it is ridiculous to think

that he needs an MA in “manage-

ment” to perform such an elementary


He may well be right. But the

department has been forced to

conclude reluctantly that “it ain’t

necessarily so.” In recent years it

has become increasingly clear from

inspection and other reports that too

many otherwise competent officers

simply do not know how to run a “taut, happy ship.”

In this day of increasingly complicated overseas mis-

sions it is no longer enough to be only a good negotiator,

analyst, reporter, linguist, or even manager. A success-

ful chief of mission must be all these. But he must be a

“leader,” as well, if he is to do the job in the age we live.

Indeed an FSO must be a leader if he and the department

are to take the role in Washington to which they aspire

and which the president clearly wants them to take. They

must be prepared to lead at a truly national level, as in fact

Foreign Service officers of the United States, and not from

any narrow and parochial service or departmental bias.

Perhaps part as the trouble is in the use of words. To

many generalists the word “management” connotes hous-

ing, pay and allowances, transportation etc.—the accepted

job of the administrative officer. Some even suspect

that the talk about “management” is a plot to make all

ambassadors administrative officers or, conversely, only

administrative officers ambassadors. But this view misses

the point. Messrs. Macy and Crockett are

talking about broad leadership qualities

that include a sure knowledge of how to

manage men and programs, as well as to

direct negotiations and reporting.

The FSI “Management Seminars,” which

have gone “on tour” thanks to the generos-

ity of ambassador Raymond Guest, and the

intriguing Airlie House “sensitivity” semi-

nars are both bold efforts to do something

about the problem. Obviously they provide

only partial answers. Whether leaders are

born or are made, it is clear that unless

an officer has a chance at “command”

assignments on his way up the ladder, he

may arrive at class 2, or even 1, so case in

the concrete of his specialty that he can’t even manage his

secretary regardless of how many management courses

he takes.

The Board of the Foreign Service Association has

appointed a special committee on “career principles.”

They are a distinguished group of colleagues who will in

the months ahead be working on proposals in this field.

We hope they will give careful attention to the problem of

developing leadership. It may be the most critical problem

facing the department and Service today.

—From the April 1966

Foreign Service Journal

50 Years Ago

that there is no international legal obliga-

tion to act.

As ISIS loses ground, more and more

mass graves are being uncovered in the

villages they leave behind.

In his announcement, Secretary Kerry

stated that the United States will help

provide evidence of ISIS’ atrocities at

future criminal tribunals. There has been

media speculation that, if all U.N. Security

Council members agree with the designa-

tion, any captured perpetrators could be

referred to the International Criminal


One complicating factor could be that

neither Iraq nor Syria is party to the Rome

Statute that laid the groundwork for the

ICC in 1998.