Practicing "Linking Pin" Management
I believe, to the depth of my heart, that there is no job in the State Department that is unimportant. I believe that everybody has a vital role to play, and it is my job to communicate and convey, down through every layer to the last person in the organization, the valuable role that they are performing and how what they do contributes to the mission.
We have to be linked. There is a management theory that was captured by a man named Rensis Likert many, many years ago called �Linking Pin Theory.� In any hierarchical organization, he said, there are leaders throughout that organization who serve as �linking pins� to connect the organization. I�m at the top, and we have assistant secretaries, under secretaries, office directors, bureau chiefs and all kinds of people; each one of them is a �link pin� that connects the organization, and the role of a �linking pin,� of a leader, is to make things happen and to connect people under that person with the next level up.
So, those of you who are leaders, I expect you to convey upward to me the problems in your organizations, the aspirations in your organization, the needs of your organization. I expect you to protect your people, to defend your people and fight for your people, all the way up to me. And when I come back down with the answers and we have looked at all the rough edges and we have made a decision as to what we are going to do, then we are all going to move out in that decision and stick with it, with coherence and consistency over time, unless it has been proven that we should move in a different direction.
I was watching a Discovery Channel show not too long ago about the Empire State Building. It was a wonderful one-hour special on this marvelous building. They took you up to the top floor where the leaders of the building and the owners of the building worked and lived. They had marvelous offices and apartments. In the last five minutes of this special, they took you into the basement of the building, into a huge room that was every bit as big as this auditorium. It was full of those 30-gallon black garbage bags, representing all the refuse that had come out of the building that day.
There were five guys in maintenance uniforms who were going to empty all these bags, take them out of the building and put them in trash trucks and move it all out, in the certain knowledge that when they came back the next day, the room would be full of bags again. The camera focused on these five guys and went to the guy in the middle, who seemed to be the team leader. They asked him: �What�s your job?� He said: �My job is to make sure this building shines every day, to make sure that the people from around the world come to this building, see a clean building, that they can be happy they have made the trip. That�s my job.�
He was no trash collector. He understood that he was linked throughout that whole Empire State Building, so that he knew the mission and he knew the role that he played in the accomplishment of that mission.
As I go about my work, I will be trying to make sure that that concept of mission and linking goes throughout the organization here in Washington, and to all of our facilities around the world, and especially to make sure we are linked with all of those embassies in the front lines. I am going to do everything I can to make your job easier. I want you all to have fun under my leadership. I like to have fun. I am 63 going on 64. I don�t have to prove to anybody that I can work 16 hours a day if I can get it done in eight.
Anybody who is logging hours to impress me, you are wasting your time. Do your work, get the work done and then go home to your families. Do what you have to do to get the job done, but don�t think that I am clocking anybody to see where you are on any particular hour of the day or day of the week. We are all professionals here and can take care of that. Have fun. Enjoy the work.
�Excerpt from a talk delivered in Washington, D.C.
By Dr. Walter E. Massey