Below is an important lesson for all upper and senior managers … especially those in government
During the settling of the original thirteen colonies pirate ships often sailed into the harbors of coastal cities. Once in the American ports the pirates would pillage and plunder from the struggling colonists.
To prevent marauding pirates from stealing property from their constituents many local governments officials voted to hire privateers to act as their private Coast Guard or Navy and protect their city harbors.
Late one night the Captain of one of these municipal Naval vessels was abruptly awakened by his first mate who yelled “Captain, Captain there’s a Spanish galleon rapidly approaching“. The Captain jumped out of bed and raced to the deck. Once on deck he spied the sea with his telescope. Sure enough there on the horizon was a large Spanish galleon with her guns aimed and heading into port.
“Quick” shouted the Captain, to his new first mate “run down to my quarters and bring me my red silk shirt.” “Captain” cried the new first mate “now is not the time to worry about how you look”. Again the Captain barked – “Go to my quarters you fool and get my red silk shirt – now don’t argue with me“. Reluctantly, the first mate ran down to the Captain’s quarters and returned with the Captain’s red silk shirt. The Captain removed his white blouse and put his red silk shirt on.
Within minutes a battled ensued with the Spanish ship. Bullets and cannon balls were flying everywhere and shrapnel filled the air. After several precarious minutes the Spanish galleon broke off its attack, turned its sails and sailed out of the harbor. The crew of the municipal privateer vessel turned to face their Captain and let out a mighty cheer. After the jubilation subsided the first mate approached the Captain and apologized for his hesitancy in following his order; however he did ask “Captain, why was it so important what you wore? Why did you have to wear that red silk shirt during the battle”?
The Captain replied, “Son, I am the leader – the Chief Executive of this government chartered vessel, both the crew and the good taxpayers of the community depend on me to defend this port. Had I have been hit by a stray bullet or struck by a piece of flying shrapnel during the battle blood may have seeped out on my white shirt. If the members of the crew had seen their leader bleeding they may have lost their courage and their will to fight. They may have given up and we could have easily lost this very important battle.
However, if I had been hit and bled while wearing this red silk shirt none of the men would have never known I was hit. They would have continued to fight with valor until their death. “Wow” said the first mate “I never thought of that Captain. I promise I will never question your orders again”.
A few days later the first mate again ran down to the Caption’s quarters and announced “Captain, Captain there is a French Frigate headed towards the harbor. She’s is a big one Captain, the biggest frigate I have ever seen; I think she aims to enter the port.
The Captain ran up to the top deck and clearly saw the silhouette of frigate on the horizon. It was indeed a big one, the biggest frigate the Captain had ever seen in his entire naval career. All of her 16 guns were loaded and manned and she was sailing straight into the harbor. “Captain what should we do?” asked the first mate. “Quick, run downstairs to my quarters and bring me back my dark brown pants” was his reply.
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