Commentary

April 11, 2014

Three steps to avoid ‘toxic leadership’

Lt. Col. CHRISTOPHER BACON
308th Fighter Squadron

Toxic leadership. Sadly, this term has recently become vogue in the lexicon of the Defense Department to describe leaders possessing unfavorable leadership characteristics and whose actions eventually rot an organization from the inside out. Examples of these leaders drape across the weekly headlines and sound bites of newspapers, radio and television.

“Leaders” who become drunk and disorderly on foreign delegations, mistreat and bully their staff, and turn a blind eye to condone clear infractions of the Uniform Code of Military Justice are examples of failed leaders. Most of us fall far from the criteria defining toxic, but I have a feeling that the pathway to poor leadership is more insidious and sometimes difficult to detect over a period of years. The following three simple steps may help keep you off the front page of the Washington Post.

Be competent. Leadership is difficult under even the best of circumstances, but it is nearly impossible if the leader is inept at the core primary function. Some of us have likely suffered under the leadership of someone unable to execute their primary duty, whether it was flying jets, apprehending criminals, balancing a budget or executing contracts. Misery! Take the time to study your core job fundamentals and stay ahead of the latest tactics, techniques and procedures associated with your career field. Show your people how it is done, set the example and lead from the front.

Be available. As a senior at the U.S. Air Force Academy, I had the “honor” of serving under a major that would routinely turn away cadets from his office because he was busy eating lunch. Really? I was rightly shocked at this officer’s decision to dismiss me and my fellow cadets because he needed to fill his stomach. As leaders, we are extremely busy, and it seems every minute in the work day is precious. If necessary, schedule time in your day to be available to the members of the unit. Unless you’re completely swamped or in a private meeting, I personally keep my office door to the hallway open and encourage folks to stop by and let me know what is on their minds.

Be empathetic. As Ian McLaren wrote, “Be kind, because everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” In the Air Force, we have been engaged in expeditionary war for years. Post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, divorce and depression haunt many of our Airmen. The list of potential traumas does not stop at these examples. Pause and reflect on the past experiences of your people and try to put their lives and struggles into context. Before passing judgment on a superior, peer or subordinate, walk a mile in their shoes. Always uphold military standards, but recognize and appreciate the personal battle they are waging behind the scenes.

We owe it to our people to lead effectively and provide a nontoxic work environment. The Air Force is approaching a crossroads with respect to our identity among the services. Our most valuable asset is our Airmen and this precious resource is in the hands of leaders. It should not be abused.




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


 
 

 
DT_JTC0216

Supreme allied commander comes home

Gen. Philip Breedlove, left, NATO supreme allied commander, Europe, visited Luke Air Force Base Sept. 12. Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus, right, 56th Fighter Wing commander, briefed the general on Luke’s evolving mission to train F-3...
 
 
Senior Airman Grace Lee

Command post chief averts potential disaster

Senior Airman Grace Lee Capt. George Normandin, 56th Fighter Wing Command Post chief, received the Aviation Safety Well Done Award Sept. 2, presented by Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus, 56th FW commander. Normandin took control of an F-...
 
 

You are what you eat

“You are what you eat.” This is a generic statement or a notion. It implies that if you eat healthy, you will be healthy. But how true is this in the world today? What we eat, drink, wear, drive and buy is often an attempt to construct a social identity. It lets others know who...
 

 

Knowledge equals power

The phrase “knowledge is power” is said to originate from Sir Francis Bacon in 1597. Personally, I remember learning the phrase from the old television show “School House Rock” theme song. The key idea behind the phrase is the more knowledge you accumulate, the more “power” you will have. Here is a simple breakdown: knowledge...
 
 
Senior Airman
MARCY COPELAND

EOD Airman changed for good by life experiences

Senior AirmanMARCY COPELAND Tech. Sgt. David Gerig’s, 56th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal team chief, first assignment after technical school was Kadena Air Base, Japan. The challenges in life are often w...
 
 

News Briefs September 19, 2014

CFC kick-off The 56th Fighter Wing Combined Federal Campaign kick-off charity fair is 9 a.m. Monday in Bldg. 1130 auditorium. Learn about the 2014 campaign ‘Serving Our Country. Supporting Our Community.’ and visit with local charities. For more information, call Maj. Jennifer Preyer-Bonton at 623-856-7144. Hispanic Heritage Month National Hispanic Heritage Month began Monday and...
 




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