Tiny Leadership Tales: ‘You Can Be Right And Be A Jerk’

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Bite sized leadership lessons, featuring reader-submitted stories of no more than 100 words

To be right, or nice?

I have asked myself – when was the last time that it was essential that I was right?
I can’t think of the last time.

When was the last time that it was important to be nice, to listen and not ram my opinions onto others?
Maybe 5 minutes ago, and 100 moments throughout every day?

We get caught up in having to know all the answers. But the answers are already out there. You can be right and be a jerk, or you can be nice, and get it right every time with others.
– Richard Barrett

While deployed, a subordinate arrived at my cabin door distraught from remembering a traumatic event. I listened. Upon review of their file, I noticed a correlation between the timing of the incident and their conduct issues. They told me no boss had noticed this before. Later, while screening for a new position, their conduct came into question. I provided context and they were selected on the basis of their excellent performance on deployment. Get to know your subordinates. Understand what makes them tick. Dig and then dig some more! You may change the trajectory of someone’s carer for the better.
Amber Comisso

As the Operations Room Officer (PWO) in a destroyer, I had a toxic Commanding Officer. When mistakes occurred during training (as is the purpose of training), he would berate and humiliate the officer on duty and the NCMs present were terrified. After such abuse, there can be an impulse to lay into the crew members who were party to whatever mistake occurred; it perpetuates toxicity. Absorb the wrath of your boss and shield your subordinates from abuse; show your troops loyalty and respect and they’ll give it back in spades. There are better ways to correct mistakes and enable learning.
– Trevor MacLean

Being a new leader can be terrifying. Your experience relative to a task’s complexity is often overwhelming. 
I was 21- leading joint teams in a foreign jungle on a highly politicised engineering mission. 
I was 22- coordinating contract closures for base services in Afghanistan on behalf of the U.S. Army. 
I was 24- in the Middle East developing a deployed supply chain for a new aircraft. 
I bet you imagined a young male while reading. Being a young female leader is TOUGH. 
But gentleness was my strength, and empathy my superpower. Challenge your preconceptions/bias and unlock your team’s full potential.
Shamsa Lea

What is Tiny Leadership Tales? Find out here.

Cover Image Credit: CPL Brandon Grey, Defence Images