As I heard this hero tell his story and watched other soldiers react, I saw his leadership as authority strengthened by personal care. His concern helped soldiers follow him, in part because they believed he would have their best interest in mind. Do we care? Do the people we have authority over know we care?
While flying home from my time with the heroes, I overhead a dad talk with his young son on his cell phone. After telling him he’d be home soon, he asked, “Did you get in any trouble today?” I was sad that he would begin with such a negative question. Why couldn’t he have asked, “What went right at school today?” Or, “What did you enjoy at school today?” After asking, I could tell he didn’t like his son’s answer. He followed with, “When I get home tonight, you’ll have to tell me why that happened.”
When children know we remember the negatives and we ask questions that imply we’re thinking more about their misbehavior than anything else, we may lose some respect. They may shy away from us when they see us coming. They may lie to avoid our disappointment. Having a negative orientation decreases our authority because it decreases security. I’m sure that little boy wasn’t looking forward to his dad coming home as much after the phone call as he was before. That’s too bad.