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WNIJ Perspectives

Perspective: A Reprimand Instead Of A Reward

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Mark Duffel
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Unsplash

As a participant in a leadership seminar over twenty years ago, a campus police officer at the UW-Madison shared his incredible story.

He was doing his rounds at 2 a.m. when he noticed a young man standing on the top floor of a parking garage. Instinct told him that something was wrong, so he approached and engaged the young man in conversation. As suspected, he intended to jump. My colleague persuaded him to come to his office, had a long conversation, and lined up professional care. This dedicated officer spent four hours saving a life.

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He assumed he would be congratulated for preventing a suicide, but instead he got a reprimand from his supervisor for "wasting" so much time on one case.

Naturally, we were all flabbergasted by this outcome. The tragic irony is that by letting that young man jump to his death, my colleague would have avoided all criticism. While he remained committed to helping rather than walking away, even at the risk of losing a promotion, it has become a sad fact of life that most of us work under leadership that disregards quality and humanity in favor of quantity and efficiency. Too often, doing nothing becomes the route that allows us to avoid rebuke and remain employed. Instead, we should reward the cop and fire the supervisor, because anyone who can't see the value of saving a life is no leader at all.

I'm Frances Jaeger and that is my perspective.

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