JS Tip 207: From the Leadership Workshops: Leaders Listen (A Leadership Lesson Disguised as a Story)

Not too long ago, a young sergeant in the 82nd Airborne Division wrote an internet article critical of the division’s training methods. Unbeknownst to him—and certainly unwanted by him—the article went viral and worldwide.

It wasn’t too long before word came down the chain of command, “Sergeant, the Division Commander wants to see you. Report to him right away.”

He reported to the general. He saluted crisply. “Sir, Sergeant Jones reporting as ordered.”

The general returned the salute. “Sergeant, did you write this internet article?”

“Yes sir, I did.”

“Did you mean it?”

“Yes sir, I did.”

“Sergeant, please sit down and tell me how we can improve our training.”

And they sat together and talked.


Let’s talk about the advantages:

Straight Advice. The general learned the views of the front-line leadership. Unfiltered. Unadorned. Probably more truthful than anything that would filter up the chain of command.

Increased Loyalty. As the story of the meeting spread through the division, the soldiers learned, “Hey. The Old Man listens. He cares about what we think.”

Good leaders take the time to listen.     

If you have comments, suggestions, or arguments, let us know. We love this stuff.