Commentary

March 29, 2013

Eye contact one way to communicate with Airmen

Chief Master Sgt. Troy Miller
Travis AFB, Calif.

It’s often been stated by United States Air Force leaders that the mission comes first or it’s for the best interest of the Air Force.

With that said, I would argue that if we expect the mission to come first and if it’s truly in the best interest of the Air Force, we need to understand the human element behind it all. Planes cannot fly themselves, our gates are not manned without people and our Airmen are not led by robots.

Retired Gen. Ronald Fogleman, Air Force Chief of Staff, said, “People are the assets that determine our success or failure. If you are to be a good leader, you have to cultivate your skills in the arena of personal relationships.”

I would like to introduce a new concept to all upcoming or existing leaders, the concept of leadership by caring. Webster’s dictionary defines the word caring as, “feeling and exhibiting concern and empathy for others.”

My boss, Maj. Jonelle Eychner, whom I hold in high regard as a great leader, came into my office the other day and asked me, “How are you doing?” Then, she proceeded to stare at me for a period of time. After a few seconds, I had to ask her why she was staring at me and she told me she heard leaders need to look their people in the eye for 90 seconds as they ask them how they are doing. I laughed and told her that creeps me out and please don’t do that.

Now, if I would have thought about it a little longer, I may have understood the point of this staring contest. She probably didn’t need to stare at me for 90 seconds, but at least she was trying to make a caring connection with me.

How can we be effective leaders of people if we don’t sincerely care about them? If you are somewhat of a stoic leader, I challenge you to step outside your comfort zone and interact with your people. Once you make that initial contact, you will probably be amazed by what you learn. Then demonstrate that you actually care by asking open-ended questions. Don’t be afraid, they won’t bite.

I will warn you, though. You will need to be sincere because your subordinates are not dumb and they can tell if someone is being insincere from a mile away. Sometimes, we like to talk about ourselves a little too much, but, for once, we should just listen. Yes, that means not interrupting the person who is talking and to actively listen to them. I try to make it a point to bring up something from the last conversation that I had with them. This shows them that you were genuinely listening and you actually care.

It is really pretty simple. If we are serious about taking care of the mission, then we should be serious about taking care of our No. 1 asset, our people.




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


 
 

 

News Briefs October 17, 2014

M4/M9 Firing Range closure The Edwards AFB Combat Arms Firing Range is closed for M4 and M9 firing until further notice. Any required firing for PCS or deployments will temporarily be accomplished at March ARB, Calif. To schedule training, contact the Combat Arms section at 661-277-2103. It is strongly recommended that all firing be scheduled as soon...
 
 
unity

The beauty of unity

Air Force graphic by Staff Sgt. Benjamin W. Stratton What do cheeseburgers, musical groups, sports teams and the United States of America have in common? If you said “the letter ‘s,’ you’re right, but th...
 
 

Up-and-coming awards

2015 Cooke award nominations sought JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas – Air Force officials are seeking nominations for the 11th Annual Department of Defense David O. Cooke Excellence in Public Administration Award. This award was created to promote, perpetuate and recognize the type of exceptional contributions David O. Cooke made to the federal service. He...
 

 
Courtesy graphic

AF releases criteria for new service medal

Courtesy graphic Graphic of the Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal. WASHINGTON - Air Force officials released nomination criteria for the new Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal, following Secretary of the Air...
 
 

Undergrad flying training applications due in December

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas – The 2015 undergraduate flying training selection board originally scheduled for Jan. 20-23 will now convene Feb. 17-20 and associated application suspenses have shifted by approximately a month, Air Force Personnel Center officials said Oct. 10. Eligible active duty officers interested in undergraduate flying training must apply by Dec. 19...
 
 
Air Force photograph by Rebecca Amber

Bunch encourages one enterprise mindset at commanders call

Air Force photograph by Rebecca Amber Maj. Gen. Arnold Bunch Jr., Air Force Test Center commander, discussed his six strategic goals for the test center at a commanders call Oct. 14 in the base theater. Maj. Gen. Arnie Bunch, A...
 




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>