Plumb and his wife were waiting for the meal to arrive while sitting in a restaurant. A stranger from another table came near to them and asked:
“You’re Charles Plumb! Flew jet fighters from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk in Vietnam, and you were shot down.”
Plumb got stunned and asked the stranger, “How do you know that?” The man replied, “I packed your parachute,” Plumb panted in surprise and gratitude. The man pumped Plumb’s hand and said, “I guess it worked!” Plumb smiled with much gratefulness, “Sure, it did. I wouldn’t be here today if your chute hadn’t worked”. That night, Plumb could not sleep thinking about that sailor. He kept trying to remember the face of the man when Plumb was on the ship. Plumb said:
“I might have seen him many times but did not pay attention, and not even said ‘Good morning, hello, or how are you?’ or anything, because I was the fighter pilot and the man was just a sailor. I started feeling deeply about the hours the sailor’s life when he had spent on a long wooden floor in the bowels of the ship, cautiously weaving the palls and folding the silks of every chute, investing survival of someone whom he even did not know.”
Plumb shared this story on many occasions and emphasized each individual in an organization is equally important, as each segment of a seamless chain. Evry little work is valuable. So we should be attentive to all our people appreciate and recognize their efforts. We should make the best use of every opportunity to reciprocate them, even by some simple words of gratitude or compassion. Most successful leaders are always kind; they are found humble and constantly induce positive waves in peoples’ minds. Great leaders always recognize that leadership is all about applying virtues for the greater good.
Good leaders are always wise and explore opportunities to help others. They contribute to the greater good for all but do not project domination. These leaders remain careful about their strengths and limitations and always respect others. Great leaders live as a part of their people. They take pride in eating, drinking, and leading a life like all others in their team. Enjoying good food, residing in a beautiful house, driving a good car are sometimes evident realities in leaders’ life, but they always love to live with their men. To be a good leader, you have to remain aware of your followers’ needs, expectations, and motivation. Good leaders do not enjoy living in comfy apartments or luxurious office rooms while people struggle with a bit of space to sleep.
Great leaders are found kind and respectful even to their enemies. Saladin was one of the most outstanding military leaders during the late 12th century. He united many Middle Eastern countries and conquered most of the Crusader states. Saladin knew the crime and atrocities committed by Cristian crusaders in 1099, where the soldiers of the 1st crusaders slaughtered thousands of Muslim inhabitants inside the holy mosque al-Aksa. Saladin was well aware of the bloodbaths by the crusaders’ victorious entrance into Jerusalem despite Tancred’s promise of protection of general people. A 90 years later, following the victory at the Battle of Hattin on 2 Oct of 1187, Saladin forces entered Jerusalem and allowed all crusaders to leave the city freely. Balian of Ibelin, the head of one of the most prominent crusader families, escaped from the Hattin battlefield and took refuge in Tyre. At the time, Saladin’s army was controlling the entire surrounding territory, where Balian’s wife, Maria, got stuck in Jerusalem. Balian sent a message to Saladin, asking for help to get her. Saladin accepted the request as Balian promised to stay one day and take his wife from Jerusalem. On arriving in the city, Balian broke his own promise and started to lead the city’s defense. Later on, Balian sent profuse apologies to Saladin for breaking his promise. Saladin politely accepted the apology and sent an escort to convey Maria to Tyre. Such actions by Saladin won the admiration of his enemies, who considered Saladin as more worthy than their leaders. The great Muslim ruler Saladin cared for his men above his own needs, stayed together, fought, and smiled together. The man at his death had nothing to his name but a sword, a small mailbag, and a horse. He built no palaces, refused to accumulate wealth, and wanted only a small mausoleum. Indeed, leaders become great only due to their superior virtues.
Be kind to others, even learn to honor your enemies. Give foods to the people that you eat. Give clothes to your men that you wear. If you are unable to provide the same to your men, keep those amenities within you and let not others witness.