I was in the NAVY for a short time. During that time at The Great Lakes, IL recruit base I learned a very important lesson. My CO gave us a small story about an Ensign and Master Chief Petty Officer that I will always remember and apply when I am able.
There are two charts listed below. One of which (E-#) is for the enlisted ranks of a Navy Sailor while the (O-#) is a rank of Officers within the Navy. O-1 is an Ensign. This is a “new” officer and many times just graduated school. You will also see an E-9 or Master Chief Petty Officer. The MCPO has put in many, many years of service, and is a leader among the enlisted. These “lifers” have bled and sweat the Navy working each progression step over time to earn where they are at – the top of it all – in the enlisted world. The E-9 must salute, by design, the O-1. Being the O-1, tread carefully. Yes, formally, the E-9 must salute the officer but make no mistake about it; the officer owes a sense of respect to the MCPO. Informal leadership can carry a heavy burden if not respected.
Consider your role. Do you have title or informal respect? Do you command a room based on your experience or do you pull positional power to get the job done? It is imperative that even the most senior management respect the dedication of the lowest hierarchy member. No one is different – we each pay our bills, and have families. The amount of responsibility and job focus is all that changes.