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Organizational Behavior and Building Trust

In organizational behavior, there are times when managers and leaders are compelled to support and defend their team members. This is especially true when others who are not intimately knowledgeable about a particular plan or practice raise questions and/or seek to criticize. When leaders and managers stand behind their employees and take care of them, it goes a long way in engendering loyalty and building trust.

This practice is described by Marshal Chuikov, who shared about a time when Marshal Rokossovsky deflected undue critique on his behalf in his memoir titled The Fall of Berlin. In the days ahead of the Lublin-Brest Offensive beginning 18 July 1944, armies of the 1st Belorussian Front had been preparing for this segment of Operation Bagration in a push to cross the Bug River and drive back German forces. Crossing the Bug, the river flowing along the borders of Ukraine, Belarus, and Poland, was necessary to reach another objective, the eastern bank of the Vistula River in Poland. Chuikov wrote the following account of this event:

“A rehearsal of the forthcoming operation was held twenty-four hours before it was due to start in fact, in order to check that coordination had been properly worked out. […] The course of this exercise assured me that those in command of our corps, divisions, and branches of the service had a correct understanding of what was new in the organization of this advance. They did not accept ready-made, textbook answers either in attack or in defense and looked for themselves for the tactical techniques. Regrettably, some of the visitors from higher commands did not comprehend the new features of the operation then due to commence. ‘Why is your Army making its advance faster than the Front command planned for?’ one of the guests asked me. I replied correctly but thought to myself that our idea did not please the vanity of this higher staff officer, who tried to make ‘improvements’ without having the new knowledge which the troops had won in battle.

Fortunately, K. K. Rokossovsky, the Front commander, came to my aid; he announced, loudly enough for all to hear, ‘You’re in command of the Army, you decide—and you will answer for all that is good or bad.’ That suited me very nicely.”

Pictured: Marshal Rokossovsky in Berlin after the end of the war in Europe, May 1945


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