Rommel was a typical member of the German officer corps, a general with specific views on command and leadership style from
which contemporary managers can still learn a lot. His daily letters to his wife, Lucie, sometimes read like a management manual, particularly his view that the commander should not limit himself to planning and staff matters at a distance, but should show himself at the front. He gave his reasons for this as follows:

  • The correct execution of the commander’s plan by his subordinates is of great importance. It is naïve to suppose that every officer will understand the meaning of his specific assignment within the larger whole.
  • Most subordinates will try to choose the easiest way: an excuse will quickly be found as to why predetermined goals cannot be achieved. The fact that a subordinate realizes his commander is present at the front helps prevent him dropping out quickly. The commander must be the driving force on the battlefield. The troops must realize that he is the one in control.
  • The commander must strive to ensure that his troops are always aware of the latest developments in the field of tactics and their practical application on the battlefield. Junior officers must be taught to respond quickly and adequately to sudden events.
  • A commander must ensure that his troops receive proper training, because that avoids unnecessary casualties.
  • It is also important that the commander knows what is happening at the front and what problems his men face. He must keep this knowledge up to date, because otherwise he leads purely from theory and with a limited knowledge of reality, as if war were a game of chess. In other words, a true leader is someone who continually tests his own views and ideas against the
    circumstances in which his troops find themselves, instead of going into battle with a fixed framework and rigid rules.
  • The commander must remain in contact with his troops. He must know their feelings and think like them. The soldier must
    have confidence in him. There is an absolute principle here: one must always be sincere to the men and never try to fool them for whatever reason. The soldier has an excellent nose for what is truth or a false representation of reality