Calmness Under Fire


So far, I expect my ideal “leader” to have commitment and vision. A third requirement is calmness under fire. While my life has been blessedly free of actual life threatening combat, I have been around when projects stall out, take a bad piece of scrap, or an angry customer wants to strangle someone. On occasions like that, a leader who increases the stress level through yelling, screaming and threatening people’s jobs is not a plus.

If you have ever been “thrown under the bus” during one of these controversies you know where I am coming from. You also know how appreciated a voice of reason is. Even more welcome is that calming influence who can get everyone to step back from the firing line and figure out a way forward.

Reputations are quickly made — or ruined — in these situations, so a person needs to think carefully before acting. Early in my career I tried to avoid speaking up at all, but eventually I realized it was often safer to formulate a solution and be willing to explain it to the aggrieved party than to wait for others to handle things.

Did I occasionally regret “volunteering?” You betcha! Did I stop? No. Because after the initial tirade, most angry customers will give you credit for taking the call, listening to the complaint, and proposing a solution. No one respects people who shift the blame to others, waffle on the solution, or refuse to communicate at all.

While studying World War II in high school, I was very impressed by General Eisenhower taking the time to write an apology letter to be published in the event the D-Day landings were a disaster. Ike was truly a great leader, something he demonstrated over the rest of his career.

Thankfully, he never had to publish that letter.

About Charles D. Schultz 633 Articles
Charles D. Schultz is President of Beyta Gear Service and one of Gear Technology's technical editors.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply