Commentary

April 5, 2013

Learning while leading

Anger, embarrassment, shame, disgust, disappointment…how do you feel when one of your Airmen makes a mistake?

All of these are plausible self-expressions that many of us encounter while admitting to making a mistake. While we all are going to make a mistake either in our personal or professional life, the fix action in many cases is the crucial element. Let me explain from my perspective why the recovery from the mistake is so important.

As Airmen we all have responsibilities. In the 21st Operations Support Squadron those responsibilities range from managing an airfield, to providing instruction for operational units throughout the world with a variety of other responsibilities in between. Many of these tasks are accomplished by Airmen during a scheduled shift making snap decisions based on the training they have received. Unfortunately, mistakes are going to occur. Obviously, those of us leading Airmen want to minimize those mistakes through training and in many cases expect perfection. But what happens when a mistake occurs? Who takes ownership? How is the mistake corrected?

In most cases the initial response to a mistake is disappointment because as leaders we know that training has occurred. Often this disappointment is accompanied by a raised voice and some form of retraining for the Airmen. This is often necessary and needed, but I would offer that more can and should be done.

First, who takes ownership of the mistake? The simple answer is the Airman that made the mistake. But what about the supervisor? When do they take ownership? A leader takes ownership of all actions under their watch.

Second, how is the mistake corrected? Is the Airman retrained and put back to work or is time taken to share the mistake with all Airmen who could find themselves in a similar position? Many of us in the 21st Space Wing have heard, Col. Crawford, our wing commander, quote that “a fool learns from his own mistakes, but a wise man learns from the mistakes of others.” When it comes to leading through mistakes, the value of this phrase is evident. Time must be taken to minimize the opportunity for others to commit the same mistake. The intent is not to embarrass the Airman who made the mistake, but to educate others so the same mistake is not made again. This is truly learning while leading.

True leaders take responsibility for mistakes and see it as an opportunity to make all around them better. Since I have had the opportunity to command the 21st OSS, I have made some mistakes. Some mistakes have been transparent to those outside of the squadron, while others have not. However, the squadron, and I as the commander, have always taken responsibility for these mistakes and we have all learned from them. These mistakes have made the entire squadron better. The rewards for the members have been plentiful, in recent months, with various Air Force level and Air Force Space Command awards received.

This commentary is shared with the reader not as a promotion of the 21st OSS, but rather as an opportunity to share some experiences with those open to different ideas. Regardless of the level you lead, learning is never over. Learn from your mistakes, but more importantly learn from the mistakes of others.

So again, how do you feel when one of your Airmen makes a mistake? How about excited to have the opportunity to lead and learn from the mistake?

 




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


 
 

 

News Briefs April 18, 2014

Commissary The Edwards Commissary will be open 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m., April 20. CCAF graduation The Community College of the Air Force Graduation Ceremony is 2:30-4:30 p.m., May 7 at Club Muroc. The graduation ceremony will honor the October 2013 and the April 2014 CCAF classes and will also recognize enlisted Airmen who have completed their...
 
 

Spring season = Spring clean up at Edwards

Winter is finally over and Spring has arrived! Despite the cold mornings or the blustery winds we have battled, the weather is definitely turning warmer. Just like the things we do every year at home, clearing winter debris blown into our yards or removing dead plants and weeds, at Edwards AFB we have an annual...
 
 

April 14 – Pulse on AF force management

WASHINGTON – New eligibility criteria, application deadlines and status updates are all featured in this force management update, an ongoing effort to bring Airmen the latest, most accurate information concerning the complex and dynamic force management programs. Additional TERA, VSP windows The Air Force will open two new fiscal year 2014 temporary early retirement authority...
 

 

NASA signs agreement with German, Canadian partners to test alternative fuels

NASA has signed separate agreements with the German Aerospace Center and the National Research Council of Canada to conduct a series of joint flight tests to study the atmospheric effects of emissions from jet engines burning alternative fuels. The Alternative Fuel Effects on Contrails and Cruise Emissions (ACCESS II) flights are set to begin May...
 
 
Air Force photograph by Bobbi Zapka

X-47B wins Collier Trophy

Northrop Grumman photograph by Alan Radecki The two X-47B test aircraft pause between flight test events at Edwards AFB, Calif. The two vehicles were built by Northrop Grumman in Palmdale, Calif., and performed all of their ini...
 
 

Hazardous waste roundup slated for April 26

Edwards AFB Environmental Management is hosting a Household Hazardous and Universal Waste Roundup on Saturday, April 26. The roundup is at the Base Housing Office, 402 West Forbes Ave., Bldg. 6696, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Base housing and dormitory residents can drive up and drop off household hazardous and universal waste for free....
 




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>