In the January issue of Proceedings, Commander Kevin Duffy (Commanding Officer, USCG Maritime Safety and Security Team - Miami) writes a fantastic article titled "Character Has Real Consequences." If you are in the military, law enforcement or public safety profession, I encourage you to read it.
CDR Duffy accurately portrays some of the flaws in our military cultures as well as our law enforcement and public safety organizations. He tells the story of his interaction with a senior officer that specialized in demeaning and denigrating his subordinates, while a few words from someone who observed the interaction gave him words he has never forgotten: “Now you know how not to treat people when you get there.”
Duffy goes into more details about the systems or cultures that allow individuals with less than stellar character rise to these positions of prominence, authority... and dare I say... leadership. I am sure that as you are reading this, a few in your career are jumping to mind. So how does this happen. He asks some great questions: "Is this a flaw of the military system or a feature? Should rising leaders consider good character its own reward, not necessarily a path to professional success? Or, do the military services need to push for better alignment between character and career advancement? If a leader gets the job done, should his or her character really matter?"
This issue goes to something we referred to in a previous White Paper: "Navigating the Changing Seascape of Maritime Public Safety"... The "People" part and the "Process" part of the 4 P's (People, Platforms, Processes, Performance.) People are an integral aspect of our organizations, and the Processes we institute, adopt or just let happen, contribute to and shape the People. Together, those aspects of the organization determine our Performance. Bad people = bad performance.
Duffy poses this question: "If not all of the leaders we serve will be people of good character, what role does character play in terms of reaching senior positions?"
What is your answer, as you look at your organization?