The Price of a Salute

One of the books I started when I returned from vacation is "The Unforgiving Minute" by Craig Mullaney. It chronicles his education from West Point through Army Ranger School, to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, to the streets of Afghanistan during battle. Mullaney is an extraordinary writer with a fascinating story. This is a great book, though some of the soldier language he employs would make it hard for me to recommend the book to my mom.

Early in the book, Mullaney recalls a conversation with a history professor, Lieutenant Colonel Guy LoFaro who had served as an Army Ranger in Grenada, and disarmed an assassin who opened fire on soldiers at Fort Bragg. Mullaney asked LoFaro "How do you know how you'll handle combat?"

LoFaro responded, "You don't... What you do know is that it will be chaotic and loud... You'll be more scared of letting down your men than anything the enemy's gonna do to you. And then you'll lead from instinct and judgment. That's the price of a salute."

If you're in a leadership position, others salute you, whether physically or literally. They defer to your leadership, look to you for marching orders, and entrust the health of their careers and sometimes their very lives to your hand.

Leadership brings responsibility. It's costly but if you want people to trust you, you have to be willing to lead in the hard stuff. You have to be able to be trusted in battle. That's the price of leadership; the price of a salute.

What will you do this week that is worth your team's loyalty?