Commentary

March 8, 2013

When did your leadership light bulb come on?

Tags:
Chief Master Sgt. David Dock
Peterson AFB, Colo.
lightbulb1

lightbulb1
In November 1992, a new chief master sergeant was assigned to my squadron. It caught all of our units’ Airmen by surprise that the new chief decided to move into the office adjacent to the bathrooms when there were much better locations behind “the glass doors.”

One early afternoon, I walked into the bathroom and on my way back the chief asked me to come into his office to talk. He proceeded to ask me about my life, my family, my hopes and goals. He challenged how I was pursuing my goals and continued on to instruct me on how my decisions could and would affect my future service. The chief re-vectored me on a few of my developmental choices and ended the conversation with “We WILL be doing this again!”

As the chief exclaimed, this became a pattern.

Over the next year or so, he would stop me on my way back from my break for updates. The chief amazed me with his precise recollection of all of the events in my life. He knew names, dates, progresses and shortfalls.

Shortly after my selection to staff sergeant, he called me into his office and said, “Dave, I am going to let you in on a little secret. I keep a close eye on all of my people and try to steer any and all who will listen on a professional development path, but I have a select few that I feel a vested interest in that I feel will go onto great things. The key is … they get that it’s not about you, it’s about us. Dave, you are one of my select few.” I was stunned and really didn’t know how to respond. He went on to say, “You are going to be a chief someday and I will be in your ear to congratulate you.”

A few months later, I was selected for instructor duty and on my last day in the unit, I went into his office.

I asked, “Chief, since I’m leaving can you please tell me how you have developed such a great memory? You know everything about everybody!”

He responded, “Since you will be a fellow chief in the future … here’s the secret,” and he pulled out a Rolodex. You see, every time an Airman would go into the bathroom the chief would review their Rolodex card and when they were heading back to their work area he would stop them, give them a summary of their last conversation and ask for updates. When they were done and they departed he would update their card (in pencil) and wait for the next meeting.

Showing that level of concern and interest in all of his people, that lit my leadership light bulb. I want and strive to be that chief.

One final note: The day I was informed that I had been selected for chief (14 years after his retirement), my cell phone rang and at the other end of the line was my chief. He said, “I told you this would happen. Now remember, it’s not about you, it’s about us!”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
rufit-edit

RUfit? Thriving outside the biodome

Staying fit, sharpening our knowledge about suicide and building resiliency are all hot topics in today’s Air Force. As all of these elements are crucial, resiliency encompasses almost everything that weighs heavy in our ...
 
 

Everyone can be great

A few weeks ago, a football player for the Dallas Cowboys was asked what he’d like from the playoff game home crowd. The player, J.J. Wilcox, responded, “Just be great.” For some reason, that phrase stuck in my mind, and it continued to nag me. Then, I realized why.  One of my foundational beliefs is...
 
 

Through our character – an opportunity to reflect on important issues in our community

- An article in the Atlantic Monthly asked the readers to think about things that lead them astray.  If we put it in religious categories, the things that typically lead us astray are: lust, fear, vanity, gluttony.  They are in the words of the author, “the fulfillment of momentary and passing desires.” Why are we...
 

 

Air Force medicine: A vision for future

The United States Air Force’s core missions are air and space superiority, intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance, rapid global mobility, global strike, and command and control. These are almost identical (but in different terms) to the missions the U.S. Air Force had in 1947. But we now do these missions in three domains: Air, Space and...
 
 

Gaining Altitude – Growth Opportunities for the Week

Through our character – an opportunity to reflect on important issues in our community – Last year, long longtime partners Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie married.  For years they pointed out that their relationship didn’t need to be solemnized in a ceremony.  Yet once married they made the following statements: “It does feel different. It...
 
 

Pre-inspection survey

As you all know by now, Air Force Materiel Command Inspector Generalwill be conducting a Unit Effectiveness Inspection on our wing this March. This is a fantastic opportunity to showcase all the amazing things you do on a daily basis! It is also a way to find out where we can improve as a wing...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>