The Buck Stops Here

Adapted from

A “Monday morning quarterback” is someone who, after the weekly football game is won or lost, says, “What I would have done is…!” A leader needs to make a decision in the moment, and more importantly, and take responsibility for that decision and its ramifications.

President Harry S. Truman’s famous motto, “The buck stops here!” was emblazoned on a thirteen-inch sign that sat on his Oval Office desk. This saying derives from the slang expression, “Pass the buck.” which means passing the responsibility onto someone else. Thus, “The buck stops here!” means, “I take responsibility.”

On more than one occasion, President Truman referred to the desk sign in public statements. In an address at the National War College, on December 19, 1952, President Truman said, “You know, it’s easy for the Monday morning quarterback to say what the coach should have done, after the game is over. But when the decision is up before you – and on my desk I have a motto which says ‘The Buck Stops Here!’
– the decision has to be made.” In his farewell address to the American people, given in January 1953, President Truman referred to this concept very specifically in asserting that, “The President–whoever he is–has to decide. He can’t pass the buck to anybody. No one else can do the deciding for him. That’s his job.”