Leadership in Action Story #1: “ Men, That’s the BEST Live Fire I’ve ever seen!”

From a leader in B/1–87 IN, 10th MTN Division who shared it while recovering at Walter Reed from wounds suffered in Afghanistan.

Leadership in Action! When I was asked to tell a story that captured leadership in action, it took me all of 2 seconds to know which one I would tell. In retrospect, it sounds kind of small, especially considering I’ve been in combat and am telling this story from a bed in Walter Reed. But, never-the-less, this story is it for me: My rifle squad was sucking down water in the AA just after a full day of day & night live fires in May. It had been a very long day and my boys had put their hearts and souls into the event. They left everything they had on that objective, and we were laying on the ground in the dark sucking down water and contemplating what we had done. The only thing between us and some rack was the final AAR with the CO who came over to my squad and got down in the dirt with us. There was a tinge of emotion in his voice: “Men, I want to tell you that what I just saw was the best squad live fire I have ever seen. I salute you, and am proud to be on your team!” I saw a tear in his eye though he’d swear by God that he was just sweating. As the CO walked away, there was silence-it was an emotional silence. Then, one of my team leaders said, “I want him to be my CO FOREVER!” The others agreed. And so did I.

The Impact

As I reflect, I am amazed at the impact that a few words can have. Well, it wasn’t the words as much as it was all the things that flowed from the CO as he uttered those words. He was saying, “I love you studs” ; “I appreciate what you do” ; “I know how hard you worked, and I know that it paid off” ; “You are competent!” ; In the few seconds that it took the CO to create that experience, a lot of things happened. The Company Commander is an important person-his words have lasting power and are etched upon the minds of the men. The CO gave my men a new sense of purpose and significance and energized them. My men tackled their work with renewed vigor-they wanted to maintain the edge that they knew they had. We came together in a new way and as we deployed to Afghanistan, it made all the difference in the world. The words you say matter.

Have you witnessed leadership? Share your story with the CC/PL by replying to this post, e-mailing us, or in the forums on the Leadership in Action page.

The CC/PL Team

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