Early in the new year and it has been a busy one for Navy, setting aside all the work going into the Haiti relief effort.  No, instead we witnessed two more CO’s being relieved, with one in particular, gaining special notoriety.  To wit, there has been a pretty lengthy re-telling of first- and second-hand accounts of the manner in which that particular CO treated those assigned to the command.

In a word, it is disgraceful.

Many of us, perhaps all of us to some degree or another, who have served have been subjects to or know of the “screamer.”  They are those whose preferred method of training, leading and advising is bent on degrading others in the mistaken notion that it elevates themselves.  No community is immune, though some seem to do a better job at pruning from their ranks than others.

Treating this as a “Lessons Learned” moment, I offer the following from the Naval Leadership blog as a parable focused on relations with our fellow human beings:

A Janitor’s 10 Lessons in Leadership

By Col. James Moschgat, 12th Operations Group Commander

William “Bill” Crawford certainly was an unimpressive figure, one you could easily overlook during a hectic day at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Mr. Crawford, as most of us referred to him back in the late 1970s, was our squadron janitor. While we cadets busied ourselves preparing for academic exams, athletic events, Saturday morning parades and room inspections, or never-ending leadership classes, Bill quietly moved about the squadron mopping and buffing floors, emptying trash cans, cleaning toilets, or just tidying up the mess 100 college-age kids can leave in a dormitory. Sadly, and for many years, few of us gave him much notice, rendering little more than a passing nod or throwing a curt, “G’morning!” in his direction as we hurried off to our daily duties. Why? Perhaps it was because of the way he did his job-he always kept the squadron area spotlessly clean, even the toilets and showers gleamed. Frankly, he did his job so well, none of us had to notice or get involved. After all, cleaning toilets was his job, not ours. (Read the rest here)  (H/T SB)

I’d mentioned in a much earlier post that I had the honor of making friends with a survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor who was assigned to one of the turrets on USS Nevada.  At the time, I didn’t know he was that – simply that he was a committed Christian, led a quiet, humble life and enjoyed a good conversation at his advanced age.  It wasn’t until many years later, near his passing, that he gave me as a pre-command gift, an old, very used book of prayers for use at sea (a USNI publication I would note) that he mentioned it.  Likewise, many years earlier I was stunned to find myself in the same line for a teller at the onbase NFCU as a certain James H. Doolittle – a thoroughly unpretentious, but judging by the reaction of the teller, quite nice elderly gentleman.  You never know who you are going to meet, work for or lead and what impact they may have, directly or not, in our lives.  It behooves us, then, that we treat our fellow beings with respect and accord due.  Not saying you have to make nice with everyone and there are times when honest disagreement may lead to heated discussion.  That said, it doesn’t, or shouldn’t at least, devolve into public belittling or physical abuse.  The effects of such an attitude are far reaching, and as anyone who has had to come in and put things back in order after such a reign will agree, it takes a chunk out of your psyche to help get others back on their feet.

In closing I leave you with another parable whose meaning, especially in vs 37-40 should be crystalline in their meaning:

The Sheep and the Goats
31 When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ 41 Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ 44 They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45 He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ 46 Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. (Matt 25: 31-46, NIV)


3 Comments

  1. SEO

    Great Post. I’m looking forward to your next piece

  2. You know-there are different types of noisy people. I think learning when to be noisy in command and when not to be is something that is not taught well as the youngin’s came up the chain. A boss I had-who I really respect could deliver a first class ass chewing with the best of them. The difference was, he never held a grudge about it, and was more than willing to buy you a beer that afternoon aftwards or help you with the detailers when you needed it. In some ways he was easier to work for because you got real and immediate feedback as opposed to some of the E-2 community leaders ( and you know several of them!) who always smiled and said good things then knifed you in the back.

    That said-the folks who said this was all over Yokosuka are not lying. Cowpens reputation suffered because of it.

  3. virgil xenophon

    I left a comment over at the Naval leadership blog about the AFA post by Col. Moschgat. concerning a similar experience I had with a WWII Army vet (shades of the AFA story) black janitor at LSU Go read if you care–I’m too lazy/tired to repeat it here–so knocked out early tonight I thought I was posting here when I did so…LOL!!

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