Commentary

December 7, 2012

Learning to lead comes from observing good, bad styles

One day, one of my Airmen asked me a question, “How do you know how to lead?” My initial thought was to tell him to go watch the movie “Office Space” (one of my favorite movies). However, this simple question really made me think. Let me frame this from my perspective.

I took command of the 56th Contracting Squadron June 18 … almost six months ago. This is my first command and seventh assignment. My prior assignments include instructor, contracting officer, aide-de-camp, industry intern, deputy chief of contracts and executive officer. In only one of those jobs did I have anybody assigned to work for me. So, I’m asking myself, “How do I know how to lead?”

There are thousands of resources available to us to learn about leadership. I’ve read leadership books and have attended leadership seminars. I even went to a school nicknamed “The Leadership Laboratory.” But I realized I learned how to be a leader by observing the people for whom I had worked.

We have all had them … good and bad leaders. I always remember the good leaders for having effective communication, sound judgment and being trustworthy. The interesting thing is we don’t ever talk about the good leaders; we always talk about the bad. Why do you think that is?

Here are the bad leaders that stick out in my mind: the leader who never left his office, the leader who did not know his job and expected me to do it for him and the leader who could not effectively communicate with the squadron. I think we discuss the bad leaders because we had to work that much harder to make up for their shortcomings. In other words, poor leadership caused the unit to suffer.

I did not want to be like the bad leaders. I took good mental notes and learned from those shortcomings. As I took command June 18, I took the experiences from both the good and bad leaders in my career and now lead my squadron.

Going back to my Airman’s question, my response was, “There really is no right way to lead. You can only learn so much in a book or a class. What I have learned is much of leadership is developed by observing those who lead you. You take notes from the good, learn from the bad and apply leadership the best way you know how. You are going to make mistakes, but how you react to those mistakes will define you as a leader.”

I am not claiming to be a leadership expert, but I wanted to share my experience as a first-time commander. Every former commander I have talked to has told me the same thing, “Squadron command is the most rewarding job you will ever have in the Air Force.” I can now humbly say that I agree.




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


 
 

 
141020-SMSgt-Shelly-Bailey-8x10-DW

Path to inspirational leadership evolving skillset

Senior Master Sgt. Shelly Bailey At some point in our Air Force career we will assume a leadership role. Leadership is an ever-evolving skillset that you will continue to develop throughout the course of your career. The highes...
 
 

Bridges: build, don’t burn

Have you heard the phrase “don’t burn your bridges?” This idiom is used to describe the importance of not ending a relationship on a bad note. In this case, the relationship is your military career. For example, when you build professional relationships you are networking or laying the foundation for the building of a bridge....
 
 

Red Ribbon reminder to be drug free

Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena was kidnapped, tortured and brutally murdered on Feb. 7, 1985, by Mexican drug traffickers. After the murder of Agent Camarena citizens of his hometown of Calexico, California, wore red ribbons in his honor. This marked the beginning of the oldest and most visible prevention awareness campaign in the...
 

 

Dollars and Sense

As a new government employee, you have the opportunity to save for your retirement through the Thrift Savings Plan. The TSP is similar to a 401(k) plan in the private sector. Participating in the TSP is easy. You can use the electronic version, such as EBIS or myPay, or fill out the Form TSP-1 (www.tsp.gov/PDF/formspubs/tsp-1.pdf)....
 
 

Chaplain’s thoughts …

It has been said that when you are struggling you are growing. We see this in athletic pursuits. No one achieves improvement or excellence by lounging about. Rather it is as we push our physical limits that we improve our performance. We see this in our academic endeavors. While our basic intelligence may be static...
 
 
Abraham_Lincoln_Vampire_Hunter_Cover

Fly Over: ‘Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter’ and ‘Gone Girl’

In bookstores: ‘Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter’ Mashup novel has bite but eventually turns to dust *Warning! This review may contain spoilers. ‘Tis the season for books, movies and TV shows featuring the scary, s...
 




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>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin