As the great debate rages on as to who should be named as the next captain of the New Yorker Rangers; not every leader is defined by a letter on his uniform.
A lifetime ago I was an Army Infantry NCO and I learned a lot about leadership, the good and bad sides of it. It is interesting that even in 2011 that the basic principles of leadership have not changed since the days of George Washington and the Patriot Army.
Perhaps the greatest General in the history of the US Army General Omar Bradley defined leadership as such:
The test of a leader lies in the reaction and response of his followers. He should not have to impose authority. Bossiness in itself never made a leader. He must make his influence felt by example and the instilling of confidence in his followers. The greatness of a leader is measured by the achievements of the led. This is the ultimate test of his effectiveness.
Mark Messier is viewed as one of the greatest leaders in the history of sports and without a doubt Messier would have made one hell of an infantry NCO. Pity the Ranger who winds up being named as the new Ranger captain.
Pity him because no matter what in the end you will always see the poor guy compared to Messier. It will be the most unfair thing to do whichever Ranger winds up with the "C" on his uniform.
Messier on how he views the role of a team captain:
As a captain, I think it's important that the players really know who you are and what you stand for, what your beliefs are, and to be consistent in those if things are going good or things are going bad.
That really is the core principle of leadership whether one is wearing a Ranger uniform, an army uniform or no uniform at all. Sometimes the best way to be a leader is to know when not to lead and trust those under you to do the jobs they are trained for.
I could never stand Bobby Holik when he was a Ranger because no other Ranger would talk the talk and then always fail to walk their talk. If Holik said the coach should bench anyone who took a bad penalty; it was a guarantee that Holik would take a bad penalty in the next game.
Going on a screaming rant in the locker room is not going to work if you do not go out there and back up your screaming with your play. If the first finger of blame you are pointing is not at yourself then go away.
Like Messier did against the Devils in that Game 6 when he promised a win; it was his actions in that game that made him forever a legend in Ranger's history. The actions that spoke the loudest were his deeds on the ice.
So what if Marc Staal is not given a letter for his uniform as those other Rangers in the locker room are still going to listen to him when he speaks. His actions on the ice will speak just as loud as his words will.
In the Army there are 11 Principles of Leadership that are a guide whether you are a brand new Sergeant or a Command Sergeant Major.
Know yourself and seek self-improvement.
Be technically and tactically proficient.
Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions.
Make sound and timely decisions.
Set the example.
Know your soldiers and look out for their well being.
Keep your subordinates informed.
Develop a sense of responsibility in your subordinates.
Ensure the task is understood, supervised and accomplished.
Build the team.
Employ your unit in accordance with its capabilities.
And these core principles are just as valid if Command Sergeant Major Rommy Walker was out visiting a guard post in the middle of the winter as they were when a lady by the name of Crissy Widner was running a graveyard shift in a cannery.
I worked for both people in my life and I would go through hell and back for them. Why you ask?
Easy because I never had to look for them when I had to work harder; I always knew they were right next to me working just as hard. Leadership more than anything else is about forging a bond of trust.
Your actions will earn that trust more than any word you say. The person who is chosen as the next Ranger Captain has to first not even try to be another Mark Messier.
Whether it is Ryan Callahan, Marc Staal, Brad Richards or any Ranger wearing a letter then they must be true to who they are. If they do then the Rangers will have some very good leaders no matter who wears or does not wear a letter.
(Infantry logo Courtesy US Army)
5 hours ago