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Were you in the position of power, how do you see yourself behaving? Would you be a good public servant for the people, or would you be a cruel, corrupt leader using your power only to further your own aims?
This is a good question to ask yourself from time to time. For some reason the thought crossed my mind. Thinking back over my short life there have been several times where I have held a position of power. At the office I have had authority over individuals, and when I was in the Air Force I held several positions of authority. I’m certain there have been other times in school and life where I was “in charge” that I may not recall, but I am sure I was a fair leader then too.
In this post I will be using the terms of “command” and “troops” interchangeably between my civilian and military roles of leadership.
As a leader I recall absorbing punishment and taking heat in an effort to protect those that were under my command, my troops knew that I had back, and their best interests at heart. As a leader I can also remember times when opportunities to fatten my own pockets by supporting wrong doing were presented, rest assured I never accepted. Time and time again they came, and time and time again I refused to be a part of it. I knew and respected the rules of the “game”, I never became a snitch or an informant. So long as my territory was never involved and respected, I would not betray those that trusted me and shared these “illegal opportunities” with me.
There is a fine line between good and evil, I may be a good man, but I am no fool to think that I can take on evil all by myself. The “game” will devour you should you declare full on war without the support of an army. Mind you, I’m talking small infractions and arrangements among the lower ranks, by no means was anyone ever hurt on my watch, even when I didn’t report what I became aware of. So long as you didn’t hurt anyone, or incriminate my territory or team, then it’s on the leader of that territory to deal with the consequences.
The higher ups always knew. They rewarded and praised my fair leadership methods, they also acknowledged my loyalty to my troops and my turf. They knew I was sacrificing myself on several occasions to protect my men, and they also knew when I was holding out due to the politics among the ranks.
Among the men I became known as an enforcer, fair, but consistent. One not to be trifled with, yet trusted and counted on when things were fair. Among the “criminal” element I was respected for minding my own business, while keeping my own area clear of their garbage.
Everyone knew when I was given more “territory” that it had to be cleared of any wrongdoing. As I took over more territory, the “criminal” element migrated away to respect my space and authority. The few times I was tested, and or challenged, I came forth with a vengeance. Our arrangements were simple, respect my territory and we had no problems. Break the rules on my turf, and I would take you down with no hesitation.
As an airman with 3 months in uniform, I remember physically tackling a staff sergeant with 12 years service for violations in the space I was responsible for. We gave him many warnings, asked him to correct his behavior (harassing young female airmen) but since he outranked me and my boys, he felt entitled. There’s a saying in the military, “Do not let your higher rank confuse you in regards to my authority”. We called the Security police, when he saw them coming he was attempting to run, he threatened me and ran so I chased and tackled the guy and held him down until the cops came. That night I earned some major respect, and anyone that doubted my resolve knew I was for real. There were a few times when I had to turn in and or bust some challenging airmen that violated the rules off my territory more than once while I was on watch.
I’m not sure why these memories came back to me, I’ve been a “troop” now for several years. No longer a commander, but just a soldier to speak. But when I thought to myself, “Angel, how would you behave with power”, these memories of my past came forward. I can honestly answer the question, I am a good, fair, and consistent leader.
What kind of leader are you?
Growing Up Bronx