3 Steps to Turn Management into Leadership

Boxers need to know how to manage their fights for leadership in the ring (Source: AP)


Today we’re going to discuss a three-step method the U.S. Army trained me to use for turning management into leadership through an After-Action Review (AAR).

The benefit of using the AAR method to turn management into leadership is a better real-time understanding of purpose, direction, and motivation most effective to succeed.


Anatomy of a Boxing Scorecard” is an article from The Wall Street Journal about the same argument we keep seeing in the sport after a fight ends in a draw, a tie in boxing jargon. “Fans leave unsatisfied,” the article’s author said, describing how both sides of the boxing match begin to question the judges’ impartiality. “Sour grapes are passed around.”

I explained in a letter to the editor how the problem is due to not knowing how to turn management into competitive leadership:

Suspicion will plague boxing until fighters are informed of scores after each round. Can you imagine athletes in any other sport with defined periods being denied the opportunity to adjust tactics because the scores are withheld until the event is over?

Things You’ll Need

  • An objective or SMART goal
  • Pencil or pen
  • Notebook


Step 1: What was the objective?

This first question evaluates the plan. With us in the same corner of a boxing match, we could be one step closer to winning our fight by having a specific objective for the first round. Write it down.

Step 2: What was accomplished?

This second question evaluates our execution of the plan. Write: What happened? How did it happen? Why did it happen?

Step 3: If your accomplishment was different from your stated objective, this is when you can write what, why, and how it differed.

This final step generates valuable feedback about your management, giving you a better understanding of strengths to sustain and weaknesses to improve, turning management skills into dynamic leadership.


The Center for Army Leadership, The U.S. Army Leadership Field Manual (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2004).

Marilyn Darling, Charles Parry, and Joseph Moore, “Learning in the Thick of It,” Harvard Business Review, July-August 2005.

John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799, 39 vols. (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1931-1944), 30:493.