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Friday, October 3, 2008

Hovering Helicopters and Leadership

When I was a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps and heading for Vietnam, I was studying artillery at Fort Sill Oklahoma. I had made a friend, an Army helicopter pilot, who was also a student in my artillery class, which was taught by a an arrogant (I’m ashamed to say) Marine Corps Captain. This instructor tended to berate people in a kind of demeaning way: “What, you can’t understand that simple equation?” One day the arrogant instructor said something demeaning to my Army friend, who had been a decorated pilot in Vietnam. The pilot just looked up and asked:

“Hey, Captain, can you hover?”

“What?” asked the Captain instructor.

“Can you hover a helicopter?”

“NO!” exclaimed the Captain, at what must have seemed and irrelevant question.

“Then, I guess we’re even!” said my Army friend.

Not a bad thing to think about as a leader. We all have differing gifts. The trick it to recognize them and not put others down who don’t have the ones we might happen to have.

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