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.


 
 

 

Airmen Powered by Innovation program launches new site

WASHINGTON – Fellow Airmen, Your enthusiasm and ingenuity continues to be our Air Forceís number one weapon system! In April of this year we launched the Airmen Powered by Innovation program aimed at turning your ideas into real cost savings for our Air Force. Since coming online API has received and reviewed more than 2,400...
 
 

STEM: Necessary but not sufficient

I was an active-duty Airman for 15 years before realizing my gut was as valuable as my mind; my intuition as useful as scientific analyses; and my agility, creativity and innovation honed the decision-making necessary to function in complex environments. A scientist by nature and education, I failed to realize the importance of humanities in...
 
 

Gaining Altitude – Growth Opportunities for the Week

Through our character – an opportunity to reflect on important issues in our community - Last week, the lesson focused on the famous educator, writer, philosopher and theologian C. S. Lewis and his book, The Four Loves. He stated that “to love at all is to be vulnerable.” This by logical necessity means we will be hurt. ...
 

 

Perils of being ‘not-so-innocent’ bystander

I was accused of sexual assault. Even after 21 years, it’s still not easy to admit that. It was 1993, and I was a young airman basic at Lowry Air Force Base, Colo. I was in technical school, learning how to be a U.S. Air Force photographer. My class consisted of eight male Airmen and...
 
 

Gaining Altitude – Growth Opportunities for the Week

Through our character – an opportunity to reflect on important issues in our community - The famous educator, writer, philosopher and theologian C. S. Lewis wrote in his book, The Four Loves: “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to...
 
 

Do you ‘really’ know who you are talking to?

When you’re young, you don’t think much about online safety. At 19, I didn’t have a care in the world; I just wanted to meet new people. Little did I know my care-free attitude online would change my life forever. In January 2013, I made an account on a social media site my friends recommended....
 




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>