A REAL COMMANDER
The difference between getting respect...
and earning it
Putting self aside
News, Keesler AFB, Biloxi, MS)
By Gene Kamena,
COL, USAF, Ret, Air War College professor
Maxwell Air Force Base,
When the military police vehicle pulled behind my car with its blue lights flashing, I knew I had screwed up. I was not wearing a seat belt.
Not a big deal? It is if you are the brigade commander in Germany . It is if you have a policy requiring a week's restriction of driving privileges for 'any traffic offense. It is if you are left on the side of the road for forty minutes, for all to see, while the specialist from the MP confirms you are not on the FBI's most wanted list. That evening, I called the commanding general and informed him of my transgression. His only comment was "make it right."
The next morning, as I entered the brigade headquarters and the charge of quarters dutifully called the building to attention; he, also said with a wry smile: "Sir, I understand you had a brush with the law yesterday."
I needed to do something, and quickly. Leaders make mistakes; good leaders acknowledge their mistakes and if appropriate, apologize. Apologizing is never easy, especially for someone in a position of authority. Easy or not, sometimes it is the right thing to do.
it that the monthly brigade run was scheduled the next
than three thousand
story of what happened, admitted
I was wrong, made
no excuses, handed
over to the brigade command sergeant
major and walked for the next week (no one ever offered me a ride).
is true. I
with the intent
I learned about
leaders, mistakes and apologizing: When
make mistakes, big
or small, people notice. They notice because
what leaders do. If there
is a disconnect between what a leader says and what a leader
will remember what a leader does. Mistakes
do not get better with time. My advice is to inform, communicate
and remedy the situation as soon as practical.
Tell the truth and set the record straight. I am convinced had I not apologized,
rumors would have it that I
in a high-speed
will know if you are
be only one standard.
Whatever the rules, policies
or practices, hold
to the same
standard you do everyone
Apologizing for my misconduct was
it was the
thing to do. A
ego in check. Good
leaders hold themselves accountable
and when an apology
is required, leaders put self