Day by Day

Friday, March 18, 2011


OK, bear with me here because I'm going to get into a bit more private mode than just puking on the progressives that are ruining this country.  I'm going to keep this as non-descriptive as possible, just because you never know who's reading.

I had a Soldier working for me who was pretty much a highspeed troop.  Always driven.  Worked his tail off.  In fact, he pretty much broke himself for the past few years getting the mission done, regardless of what he was faced with.  Worked 12, 16 hour days, weekends, spend months away from his family.  And this is a stateside job, mind you.  Made my unit look GOOD on a national scale because of the work he was putting in on his particular program.

Was he perfect?  No.  In fact, he managed to step all over his wedding tackle on one occasion.  But still, one big mistake vs. years of excellent performance?  He was a darn good troop.  And every single one of us has an "Oh, hell!" moment in life.

Now, my supervisor happened to have a problem with this young troop.  The more I think about it, the more I'm convince that the problem revolved around who was getting recognition in my unit.  When people talked about the program we run, their statements invariably started with "SGT Highspeed" rather than "Officer So-and-So."  And my supervisor is rather narcissistic, to the point of being toxic.  So to have Colonels and Sergeants Major talking about my troop rather than about him had to grate on his nerves.  There was also some personality conflicts that came into play, but that has nothing to do with my troop's work ethic.  And my troop was professional, didn't let those conflicts interfere with the job he was doing.

Now then....  comes time for SGT Highspeed to leave.  I give him a good evaluation.  Not a great one, because again, he did step on his wedding tackle, but a good one that will help him grow and gain advancement in the future.  I also put him in for an award for the service he's done.  And it's a good award.  My supervisor goes nuts, albeit in a rather quiet manner, about this award.  First he tries to tell me not to give my troop that specific award, but to submit him for a lower award.  Sorry, but military regulation states that any Soldier can submit any other Soldier for any award.  That doesn't mean that Soldier will actually get the award they were submitted for, but even the Chief of Staff of the Army does not have the authority to tell me to NOT submit someone for an award.  I respond in a rather blunt manner that I'm putting my troop in for this award, and if my supervisor feels the need to downgrade it, that's his prerogative.  THAT didn't sit well at all, because if my supervisor downgrades an award that I'm submitting for a Soldier, he has to explain why.  And I don't think he can explain that, because it's based on his personal feelings rather than my troop's work.  Then my supervisor tries to tell me that I'll never get this award approved through our chain of command.  I respond with the same line - then let them downgrade the award if they feel the need to do so.  I'm going to submit the award I think my troop should get.  And that's what I did.

I did get somewhat called on the carpet about that, because people do remember my troop stepping on his wedding tackle and my supervisor whines and complains enough for this award submission to get on the radar.  I get pulled into the Chain of Command's office and asked to explain myself, and why I think my troop deserves this award.  And so I lay out my case - SGT Highspeed darn near broke himself for this command on this program.  Made us look good.  Made us the leader in this particular program.  USARC level recognition of being the best.  Yada yada yada.  And then I look that high-ranking person in the eye, and say "There are people in this unit who are going to use this particular program to get themselves a nice big fat award when they leave, and the only reason they'll be able to do so is because of the work that my troop put into this program."

I just got my troop's award back yesterday so that I can present it to him.  And it's the exact award I submitted for him.

My supervisor saw it, saw that I did indeed get my troop his award, and he loses it.  Doesn't go yelling and screaming, but just becomes insulting and nasty.  Says that my troop getting that award "devalues" the award.  Can't understand how my troop can get rewarded after he stepped on his wedding tackle.  Questions my integrity and my work ethic on a few different topics, then finally leaves.  Ticked me right off.  I went home and ran for close to an hour just to get down to the point where I could talk about it to the Ragin' Mrs. without spitting and cursing.

And after having a good long run, and then a good beer, my wife made the statement to me, "Don't be mad.  Your supervisor is sitting at home right now all pissed off because your troop got an award and he didn't."  And you know what?  She's right.  This is a matter of recognition.  My supervisor is losing his mind because my troop is getting recognized, and his narcissistic self isn't.  More to the point, a troop that my supervisor doesn't like and tried to tear down is getting recognized for all of his hard work, and there's nothing my supervisor can do about it.  Someone else is being put on a pedestal for a moment, and my supervisor can't kick that pedestal out from under him.

We had a rather pleasant dinner after that.

So what's the point of all this?  Well, part of me still wanted to vent.  And part of me wants to point out that when you have someone working for you who deserves an award, then you darn well get it for them.  Stand your ground.  I've learned more about dealing with Toxic Leadership during this tour than I ever wanted to, but the enduring lesson is that you still do what's right no matter what, and you stand your ground when you know you're right.

And yeah, part of me wants to gloat.  I made sure my troop got the award he deserved, and I fought my immediate leadership to do it.  And I won that battle.  It might bite me in the ass later, but it'll still be worth it.


genedunn said...

I suggest an award for the ragin' Mrs., also... that is valuable insight and a profoundly awesome reason to have a Mrs. in the first place.

CaptainAttila said...

You were exactly right and since you explained the situation to the Chain of Command, I suspect it'll be your supervisor's ass that gets bit. I know it would be if it were my subordinate. Well done.

Drumwaster said...

"Says that my troop getting that award "devalues" the award."

You mean like our current C-in-C getting the Nobel Peace Prize? Or that loser who was VPOTUS a few years back getting an Academy Award?

There are fairly objective criteria to qualify for medals in the military, and if someone qualifies, personal BS should not delay that award one millisecond, and anyone who asserts otherwise shouldn't be in a leadership position. Full stop.

Ragin' Dave said...

Drum - he shouldn't be in a leadership position. He's the picture perfect example of Toxic Leadership. He's the sand in the gears of our section.

kateykakes said...

Well done, Dave, and a job well done by the Mrs., as well. :)

Ragin' Dave said...

Yeah, she's a keeper!

Which is a good thing, considering I've already married her.

Rivrdog said...

Just damn! That wouldn't have flown in MY military, back in the day. The supervisor would have been able to carry off his refusal, and the troop would have never been recognized.

In fact, the whole discussion on Toxic Leadership never happened, although in the cover-your-butt Post Vietnam military, it SHOULD have.

Good for you!