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What should I do if my leader is abusive?

I am an SSG in the Army. After 3 years on recruiting duty I came back to the line unit. Now I am A Squad leader and I am having a lot of issues with my Platoon Sgt. I know I have been out of the line for a while, but many things that this platoon sgt does seems wrong. For instance, he treats all the squad leaders like privates and yells at us in front of our subordinates. I have approached him and told him that I do not appreciate that and he gave me the "I do not care" treatment. Corrective training that he conducts does not address the mistake by a Soldier so they do not learn anything. He also abuses his position all the time. He writes counselings about insignificant incidents when a verbal could have yielded better results. The other squad leaders are used to his way or the highway, I personally do not think that is right, what is wrong is wrong and I will not allow this to happen. Soldiers are pretty much drinking themselves to sleep, cause they have no motivation to come to work on the mornings, you could feel how the soldiers fear this Platoon Sgt, but that is very unproductive for the platoon.

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We all work for bad leaders from time to time. In some cases we have to be humble and let those in charge be in charge. On the other hand if the NCO is being abusive in dealing with his subordinates you might want to consider requesting an investigation into his actions.

Before you proceed you may want to look at this issue from the Platoon Sergeant’s Perspective. Is he just a hard, aggressive leader? Is he learning to be a leader? Are his actions really wrong or do they just rub you the wrong way? Once you have evaluated these things and honestly believe there is an issue then you have an ethical decision to make. When you step forward to make your claims you better make sure you have your stuff together or you could face some serious consequences.

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Mark is a Retired Command Sergeant Major with 26 years of military leadership experience. He held 3 military occupational specialties (Field Artillery, Nuclear Weapons Tech, and Ammunition Ordnance). Mark is one of the leading military authors in the fields of leadership, counseling, and training.

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  • Part-Time-Commander


    Here’s what I would do with an abusive leader.

    # 1 Confront them

    Give them the benefit of the doubt and let them know you have a problem with something they are doing to you.

    # 2 Give them time to fix it

    Once you talk to them, give them a chance to fix it, or fix their behavior.

    # 3 Document everything

    If the behavior or problem continues, document everything to create a paper trail.

    # 4 Educate yourself

    Educate yourself to find out if they are actually doing anything wrong or violating any policies or regulations. It could be you just have a personality conflict with them.

    # 5 Talk to higher or a trusted peer

    If the behavior continues, or if they are violating a regulation, you might want to talk with your senior rater or to a trusted peer to get additional guidance.

    # 6 Request an Investigation

    If nothing else fixes the problem, and you know there are rules being violated, consider requesting an investigation

    I hope that helps.

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