Commentary

January 24, 2014

Recipe for leadership? Be best you can be

Senior Master Sgt. DONALD STROUD
56th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron

Is there a special recipe for leadership?

In today’s Air Force we struggle trying to find that special recipe to get our teams to perform at their top levels of efficiency. As technology catapults us into the future and new leadership philosophies develop through the halls of Harvard and Stanford, we still rely on the one thing that cannot be imitated by computers or taught in class – personal relationships. Is a dash of development, two sprinkles of inspiration, two cubes of communication and three lumps of standards enough to create a strong leader?

Our fighter wing provides many opportunities to develop Airmen and share our experiences to better prepare young leaders for the challenges they will soon face, hence, “a dash of development.” A lot of time is spent setting up professional development courses, mentoring opportunities and more. Unfortunately, a portion of our leaders at Luke spend an exceptional amount of time to provide those opportunities.

For example, the Lightning Leadership program, where fellow Thunderbolts struggle to get members to attend the sessions. Why is that? In my opinion, this happens for a couple of reasons.

First, many followers have overlooked the personal responsibility of taking an active role in their own development. By avoiding these instances, we are shirking our duties as professional Airmen. As a follower it is our duty to make the time to pursue professional development. This small act would reflect to our Airmen the importance of continued self-improvement.

Secondly, I honestly believe the target audience for professional development sessions should view the sessions as a mandatory requirement. Often, there may be some arm twisting involved to get Airmen to attend. If the attendees do not feel the need for the mentoring event, it is very difficult to get them on board. These are the struggles we have with deliberate professional development.

One may ask, “How do I inspire someone to go to a class or session that he is reluctant to attend?” Unfortunately, there is no clear answer for the “two sprinkles of inspiration.” If anyone knew how to teach someone how to inspire others, we would be sharing that “magic spice” repeatedly at professional development courses throughout the Air Force.

The bottom line is you can read every leadership book and attend every seminar for the next year, yet only come away with some strategies for effective leadership. You will not come out of those experiences with the ability to inspire your team. Just like you can’t teach someone how to feel empathy while counseling a subordinate, you can’t teach inspirational behaviors.

Leadership 101 tells us to “be honest.” I would say, first, you must be honest with yourself. If you are not inspiring people, you should recognize the signs. Don’t get discouraged, there are other ways to inspire your subordinates by concentrating on what you can do. If you are not inspiring your team after many attempts, try other methods, like setting and enforcing clear standards (three lumps of standards), effectively communicating your commander’s vision (two cubes of communication), and recognizing your subordinates’ and team’s accomplishments. By displaying these key leadership ingredients, the natural leaders on your team should encourage the others to get on board because you have communicated the standards, your unit’s vision and your appreciation through recognition.

We have many young leaders who are waiting in the shadows for the chance to lead from the front. We should let them do so by empowering them to inspire the others. Not all leaders are inspirational, but the only way it makes them less of a leader is if they don’t know it. Take an active role in your own development, know your limits, your leadership abilities and be honest when evaluating how subordinates respond to your direction. If your efforts aren’t working, engage with your natural leaders and empower them to inspire your team.

Our Air Force heritage is rich with warriors, heroes and leaders. I reflect back to the days when I was a senior airman working for Tech. Sgt. Robert “Jar” Jarmillo. He was probably the most unpolitically correct person on the flightline, but he treated us like his sons and daughters. I don’t think he ever read a book on leadership and probably barely got through his speeches in the NCO Academy, but man, what a leader! We would have followed him to the end of the world and his legacy lives on in the Airmen that he led. Did he adhere to the leadership recipe? Most would say, “No, not in the least.” Frankly, it was in working with men and women like Sergeant Jarmillo that I realized there is no special recipe for inspiring, developing, or leading. It takes more than a list of standard ingredients to elicit the act of being followed.
The best approach is to just be honest with yourself, keep searching for your recipe and be the absolute best Airman you can be.




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


 
 

 
Airman 1st Class 
PEDRO MOTA

MMA ramps up combat training

Airman 1st ClassPEDRO MOTA Team Ill Brasil brings a new style of martial arts to the base. The Luke Air Force Base Bryant Fitness Center now offers discipline specific martial arts training Monday through Friday at the Combat T...
 
 

DUI in Arizona: You can’t afford it

Arizona has some of the toughest drunken driving laws in the United States. The average overall cost of a DUI in the state of Arizona is around $10,000. Crazy, right? Ten thousand dollars may seem hard to swallow at first, but first time offenders often find themselves paying considerable unforeseen expenses throughout the course of...
 
 

Is being good, good enough?

In today’s Air Force can you settle with just being good? I say, “No.” With the Air Force executing the deepest force cuts since the end of the cold war with programs such as the Quality Force Review Board and the Enlisted Retention Board, what you do and how well you do it matters more...
 

 

Your career – as easy as 1, 2, 3

Oftentimes at retirements we hear the phrase, “This is one chapter in my life.” No matter what our goal is, whether it is to serve for four years or 20 years, each of us will leave the Air Force at some point. This leads to the question, “What does it take to have an Air...
 
 
Tech. Sgt.
LOUIS VEGA, Jr.

Reserve recruiter has heart of bull

Tech. Sgt.LOUIS VEGA, Jr. Master Sgt. Stanley Iakopo, Air Force Reserve Command recruiter with the 944th Fighter Wing, puts Joe Vigil, pro fighter and assistant trainer, in a hold while training at Peraza Boxing and Mixed Marti...
 
 

News Briefs July 18, 2014

Base-wide exercise The 56th Fighter Wing will conduct an active-shooter exercise Aug. 15. The exercise will include military and local, county and state law enforcement, and fire departments. On and off-base residents should expect traffic disruptions, gate closures or delays, and interruptions of customer service operations. Expect to see simulated explosions, smoke, role players depicting...
 




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