OPINION: On Leadership, Failure and Being Extraordinary

On the USS Theodore Roosevelt, there had been an outbreak of a debilitating sickness that the Commander of that aircraft carrier suspected of being the pandemic virus, COVID-19, which had spread all over the world, and proven deadly.

Captain Crozier was the Commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, and had to deal with a increasingly sickly crew. He made a decision that would cost him his job.

He sent out a mass email that had over 20 people in it over a unclassified network.

What transpired before he sent out that email very few know, including me. However, if he was rebuffed countless times before he sent out that mass email, he may have felt he had no choice.

His crew was getting sick, and could possibly die, so he made the fateful decision to act on his own.

That action cost him his job, however, the media reports of the USS Theodore Roosevelt’s situation, led to her docking in Guam to evacuate his sick sailors.

But more than that happened, it led to two things, his very public admonishment by the Secretary of the Navy, and the exuberant cheering of his Sailors as he left the ship for the last time.

Their admiration was heard around the world, and has gone viral, to include reaching the Secretary of the Navy, and the President.

Captain Crozier has been a Navy man for many years, he knew what the consequences would be, but he made a choice to do whatever means necessary to get his very sick Sailors off that ship.

Sometimes you must act in the absence of true leadership, even if that means putting your own career on the line.

It was discovered that over 100 sailors had the COVID-19 on that ship.

Failure of leadership by not understanding what their employees are doing

I was having a conversation the other day with a man that works in information technology.

He told me he hates his job so much, but the pay is good. He also told me, that in his office there are way too many leaders and not enough subordinates.

He said that his team could be working for over 7-hours straight, but during their 10-minute break a high level boss will walk-by, and the next thing they know they are in an email that is sent out to the whole organization saying they weren’t doing anything.

I was also told, that the two team managers are always back biting each other and making the morale of the teams to be almost non-existent.

They all want to quit, but the money is good, and they have families to support. This is an absence of leadership, where building your team is so important.

It seems his leaders are failing him.

True leadership is leading from the front, and doing all you can to support your team members.

One of the greatest leaders of all time

There was slave on a plantation in the 1840s that dreamed of a better life.

Harriet Tubman said one of her hardest days was getting lashed 5 different times before breakfast.

“The most severe injury occurred when Tubman was an adolescent. Sent to a dry-goods store for supplies, she encountered a slave who had left the fields without permission. The man’s overseer demanded that Tubman help restrain the runaway. When Tubman refused, the overseer threw a two-pound weight that struck her in the head. Tubman endured seizures, severe headaches and narcoleptic episodes for the rest of her life. She also experienced intense dream states, which she classified as religious experiences.” (Biography.com).

One of these experiences led her to escape slavery, which she did in 1849.

She escaped to Philadelphia, PA, where she could have begun a solitary life as a freed slave. However, she didn’t; she wanted to return to Maryland to free more slaves.

She would make 19 more trips into slave territory and helped hundreds of slaves escape.

The amount of bravery it took to risk her life and freedom to help others escape is no better example of true leadership.

Be extraordinary

When the chips are down and we are faced with enormous obstacles, how we act in that moment can define us.

We all want to be liked, and want our leaders to like us. That is human nature, but there are times when we must step out of that role and be something extraordinary.

When that moment comes, we must recognize what our duty is, and be the leaders we were born to be.


James Royer is a 14-year Army veteran that was discharged in 2017. Today he works in information technology and runs a career group called Veteran2Hire, which brings together 25,000 veterans and employers around a mission to get veterans employed in meaningful careers.


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