On November 18, 1952, LT E. Royce Williams from his ship the USS Oriskany, off the coast of Korea, was given a bombing mission against North Korean targets as part of a strike group. The pilots flew near a river that bordered the Soviet Union. Upon completing their mission, they received information that 7 MIGs were scrambled to intercept them. Williams was ordered to return and provide protection for his ship.
There is a popular phrase passed along by leaders, “Always praise publically, criticize or correct privately.” Unfortunately, this gets violated all too often in organizations where insecure or unthoughtful people publicly criticize employees, family members, or co-workers. I once had a fellow team member complain to the program director over his offense at some of my closing remarks. Rather than just come and tell me, he went “over my head.” When the director mentioned his complaint to me I was surprised and lost respect for a fellow leader who prides himself in leading yet was unprofessional by not speaking directly to me.
The Army requires every company to conduct what is called a Command Climate Survey. The purpose of this survey is to let leaders know the health of their organization by giving soldiers the opportunity to anonymously write positive or negative observations about a wide range of issues within their unit. In the headquarters company for the division I commanded, several people wrote that I had favorites. The inference was that I spent a disproportionate amount of time with certain people—some of whom were directly named. The criticism was petty and, probably fueled to some extent by jealousy, but I could not ignore it or it would just continue to fester and cause deeper problems.
2 Chronicles 32:1—After these faithful deeds, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and entered Judah. He laid siege to the fortified cities and intended to break into them.
You could hear them screaming at each other five offices away. Heads poked out to see what was going on—I was afraid words would escalate to blows, but fortunately that did not happen. Don looked like he was going to have a heart attack, his face was beet red and he was shaking. Rich’s jaw was clenched and his palms rolled into fists but with three of us coaxing we managed to get them separated and back into their own offices.
I asked Rich what happened. He said he went into Don’s office to ask how Allie was doing on the project she was working with him. Don told him she was worthless and to get out of his office, he was sick of taking Rich’s broken employees and felt like Rich deliberately was out to make his life miserable. Rich said the way Don spoke penetrated his brain and hit his anger button. He knew Allie had her weak areas but he was proud of her hard work and resented Don’s judgmental attitude. Furthermore he didn’t appreciate the way the older manager always blamed people instead of trying to get along. So instead of finding a response to deescalate the tension, he spoke the first thought that raced across his brain, “Don you are a loser and I’m sick of trying to help you.” Those words brought Don out of his chair and began a two-minute shouting match.
In the military, leaders are taught to make “on the spot corrections” when people engage in improper behavior. If mistakes continue supervisors are to document in writing what is wrong and prescribe the right action or attitude that is expected. But after serving in leadership positions at six different levels I find that most supervisors, (me included), struggle when it comes to confrontation. Speaking the truth for some is like chaining a tiger. They would rather not offend the one capable of lashing back. It takes time and a strong disposition to properly deal with those who need correcting. Rather than face someone it is easier to overlook problems and just hope they will go away. If there is no avoiding having to counsel, most leaders prefer making oral corrections. This is less time consuming and stressful. The problem with this technique is there is no record established to show a pattern of misbehavior with a stubborn malcontent and therefore punishment or removal is difficult to impose.
She was a wealthy woman of the best kind— thoughtful and generous. She noticed a man of God in need and she fed him. As he often frequented her town, she talked her husband into building a home addition so the man would have his own room furnished to meet his needs. Grateful for her kindness, the godly man asked her what he could do for her. She declined his offer. So he asked his helper what could be done for her. He noticed that her husband was old and she had no children. So he called her to his room and as she stood in the doorway told her she would have a son the following spring. She asked him not to lie to her, but sure enough she gave birth to a boy. Years later the woman’s son became ill and died. His mother immediately traveled to Mount Carmel where she found Elisha, fell on the ground and grabbed his feet.
Sometimes we can do what God asks of us and suffer disastrous consequences. When this happens we can do one of two things, we can turn away from God and blame Him for our misfortunes, or we can humble ourselves and continue to do exactly what He asks. To see a clear example of this we need only turn back in history to a dark time in the land of Israel.
Have you ever wanted to be part of a group but found yourself excluded? Whether it be a school, church, club, team, a political party or affiliation most of us recognize the existence within any organization of an inner ring. Many people spend their whole lives seeking acceptance and entrance into these cliques or groups. No one wants to be left out.