Leadership / Communication

Leadership Moment — 17 Mar 22

Careless Comments

Mark McMillion
2 min readMar 18, 2022


Photo by football wife from Pexels

One of my sons has been saddled with an unfortunate nickname that’s carried over from last football season. The coach made a careless comment about the way he was dressed and unfortunately, it stuck.

My son clearly understood the coach was joking and meant nothing by it. Unfortunately, a few of his teammates, who all happen to be teenage boys, liked it and turned it into a recurring thing. As a former teenage boy, the father to four kids to include two teenage boys, I feel very confident in saying teenage boys are stupid. When my daughters became teenagers, I explained this to them and counseled them to be patient. The boys wouldn’t be stupid forever but until then, be patient. My sons are working hard to prove me right as well.

My son and I talked through the situation and how to handle it and I’m confident he’ll get the situation fixed.

I’ve written about this phenomenon before here. I call it the Megaphone Effect and it can be powerful. Unfortunately, it can also be damaging and hurtful. In this instance, I know the coach and his heart were / are in the right place. It was a careless comment I could have just as easily made.

People in authority positions must constantly be aware of how they speak, how they comport themselves, how they communicate. Body language, tone of voice, word choice — followers are always watching and looking for meaning for a variety of reasons. This is especially important when around younger, more impressionable employees. They don’t always have the experience to put things in context or to look past surface-level lapses.

That was my leadership moment today.

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Mark McMillion

Retired Army officer with two tours in Baghdad, married with four kids. Proud West Virginian and West Point grad. Works available on Amazon.