June 29, 2012

3-M concept of leadership serves chief well

by Chief Master Sgt. Steven Ferrell
56th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron

Whenever I am asked about my leadership methods, I always say, “I apply my Three-M concept: mentor, motivate and monitor.”

Most people will discover at one time or another they have been in a leadership role, whether as a sibling, parent, boss, coach or sometimes as a team member. Realizing the profound impact one person can have in other people’s lives, and possibly across generations, is the first step in developing a style I like to refer to as mentor leadership.

I know everyone is tired of hearing the word mentorship, but mentor leadership could come from walking alongside a specific person, lifting them up and just spending time with them. It definitely isn’t about the word we use to describe the methodology.

Trust is the most important requirement for mentorship to be effective. Most of us remember someone in our lives, a relative, teacher, supervisor or friend, whose legacy has encouraged us. Often we may think about their example, something they’ve said, or some aspect of the relationship that stayed with us or shaped us as Airmen. During the actual time of influence, you may not have even realized the effect they were having in your life.

As leaders, we must provide our Airmen with everything required to do the job required of them. Find out what they know, and then teach them the rest. I don’t particularly like the old adage of, we learn from mistakes.

A better way is to learn from the mistakes of others, or just learn to do it the correct way first. I believe learning really takes place when we get it right and practice doing it right. It may mean stepping out of our comfort zone and maybe even getting our hands dirty. Give your Airmen the five Ts — training, tools, tech data, time and trust. They will surprise you.

Motivation is simply having the desire to do things. Airmen can have all the Ts you give them, but without motivation on the behalf of the Airmen, leaders get nothing in return.

Motivation normally is classified as either positive motivation or negative motivation. Positive motivation, like awards, promotion, good EPRs and time off, seems to generate the best results in most groups. As leaders, we still must understand some situations and individuals will require the use of negative motivation. No matter how you motivate individuals, the key is to always treat people kindly and with respect.

We also need to remember other potential leaders are watching us and learning from us whether or not we are aware of it. The good news is that these are also opportunities for shaping and nurturing the lives of all Airmen around us.

Monitoring is the third step but not necessarily the last one. Leaders must constantly stay engaged in making sure their Airmen get it right, and provide continuous feedback so they stay on track.

This might take you back to more mentoring or motivating because sound leadership is a continuous process. Real leadership of lasting value is seen through the relationship of mentoring, motivating and monitoring our own Airmen and other Airmen around us. While one’s position or status may be a part of it, our greatest value in influencing others may be to those who are not our subordinates. You just might have a profound impact in someone’s life for many future generations if you get this right.

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