Respect, Integrity, and Decision-making

By John Gronski

Lessons Learned in Poland

In early October 2021, I was invited by the Polish Territorial Defense Forces to come to Poland and provide a series of leadership workshops at several Polish military academies, civilian universities, and military units.

While conducting this speaking tour I was also to promote my book, “Iron-Sharpened Leadership” which is based on the concept of servant leadership.

Transformational Leadership

The idea was to assist the Polish military to change its culture of leadership from a directive and transactional approach that was experienced by Polish military leaders during Soviet times to a more transformational approach, like the mode of leadership used by the United States Army.

This American style of leadership has been exemplified for over 200 years by leaders such as George Washington, Nathanael Greene, Joshua Chamberlain, Fox Connor, Omar Bradley, James Rudder, Fred Franks, and Colin Powell.

 Leading Without Experience

As I concluded a workshop at one of the military schools, a young Polish lieutenant came up to me and told me he wanted to ask me a personal question off-line. He confided in me that he realized he was a young and inexperienced leader, yet he was expected to lead Soldiers much older and more experienced than he was. He was not sure how he should go about leading a group like this.

A Common Dilemma

This is not an uncommon dilemma for many lieutenants in the American Army. For that matter, many young college graduates entering the civilian sector experience a similar challenge when they are placed in a position of leadership over workers repairing machinery, building bridges, or doing a myriad of other tasks in a variety of industries.

 Use R I D

I told him the best way to tackle his uncertainty about leading others with more experience and training was to use the acronym RID.


R stands for respect. Show the people that you are leading the respect they deserve. Never talk down to them even though they may not have the formal education you have. Demonstrate respect by asking their opinion on matters that come up. Take advantage of the experience they have by asking for their recommendations.


stands for integrity. Do not lie to those you lead by pretending you know something when in fact you do not know. Be honest and be authentic. Do not put on airs and pretend to be someone you are not. If you make a mistake admit it. When things go wrong within the team, as the leader, take the blame. When things go well share that success with the team.


D stands for decide.  As the leader, you are the “decider in chief”. You can ask for suggestions and recommendations, but ultimately, at the end of the day, you are the one who has the responsibility for making the decision. Do not abdicate that responsibility. Have the courage to decide.

When you fail to make a decision that must be made you cause frustration, uncertainty, and confusion throughout your team. Own the decision you make. If the decision is a bad one own up to it. Once you make a decision, stay connected to the execution of that decision and make adjustments if things begin to stray off course or if new information becomes available.

 Remember, Get RID of the Dilemma

So, if you are a young and inexperienced leader thrust into a situation where you must lead more experienced and skilled followers, get “RID” of the dilemma by demonstrating respect and integrity, and having the courage to make decisions.

The 20-foot Goal

By MG John Gronski (USA, Ret,) I love to go on trail runs. I find a great deal of enjoyment in going on runs in the mountains of Pennsylvania on hiking trails and single-track paths. A few weeks ago, I was on one such run. I was at around mile four and found myself...

The Entrepreneurial Mindset

By MG John Gronski (USA, Ret.) Do you have an entrepreneurial mindset? A friend of mine who is working on his Ph.D. recently asked if he could conduct an interview with me as a requirement for his program of study. He is involved in a project that focuses on the...

All In or Go Home

By MG John Gronski (USA, Ret.) Jim Sursely was a remarkable man. He passed away on May 30, 2021, after living an inspiring life. He motivated many people but the lesson he told that resonated most with me was that you had to be all in, 100%, if you were going to...

Upward Leadership

By Major General John L. Gronski (US Army, Retired) I have been getting a lot of questions from mid-level leaders about techniques they can use to assist their boss by providing candid feedback. Some people call this “Leading Up”. I like to use the term “Upward...

Muddy Boots (or Paws) Leadership

By MG John Gronski (USA, Ret.) My dog Scottie has muddy boots. To be more accurate, I guess I should say he has muddy paws. I think all leaders can learn from him. Scottie gets around. He does not sit back behind his desk and let the world around him pass him by. He...

The Case For Leading Up

On December 28, 1978, Flight 173 crashed about 8 miles from the Portland Airport. Of the 181 passengers and 8 crew members aboard, 8 passengers, the flight engineer, and a flight attendant were killed, and 21 passengers and 2 crewmembers were injured seriously....

The Sniffspot

We must build resiliency. Resiliency does not just happen on its own. We must prepare for it. To build our resiliency we must work on our fitness. Of course, physical fitness is essential, but being fit mentally, emotionally, and spiritually also builds resiliency....

Becoming A Veteranpreneur

By guest blogger Jesse Clark As a veteran, you no doubt have skills and experience that can translate into a wide range of industries and fields. You’re likely a self-starter who is no stranger to persevering through challenges and thinking of creative solutions. In...

Behaviors speak louder than values

By MG John Gronski, USA Retired Behaviors speak louder than values It is essential for one to identify their core values. Core values should number between about three to seven values. If everything is a core value, then nothing is a core value. It is important to go...

Wellness Practices For The Workplace

By Rosette Jones Adaptability is one of the qualities business owners need to develop to maintain a fulfilled workforce. What better way to practice it than to adapt to the changing needs of your employees? As the importance of employee wellness becomes more...
Share This