Commentary

April 25, 2014

Excellence unexpected result of mistakes

1st Lt. CHRISTOPHER BENNETT
56th Comptroller Squadron

In our present environment of force shaping actions and an increasing expectation to do more with less, the idea exists that perfection is expected. While excellence remains one of our core values, our heritage is wrought with leaders, who are both men and women, great and small, that questioned the status quo and were not afraid to make mistakes, nor push the envelope. Leaders at every level sometimes need to be reminded that it’s OK to make mistakes. Leaders who foster an environment that allows mistakes, in noncritical areas, realize the benefits of innovation, as well as personal and professional growth for those involved.

Inherent in our culture is the expectation to lead. Even at the lowest tier Airmen lead each other through peer-to-peer interaction. Our sister service shares this sentiment in Army Field Manual 22-100 paragraph 1-51, which states, “Anyone who influences others, motivating them to action or influencing their thinking or decision making, is a leader … There are, obviously, many leaders in an organization, and it’s important to understand that you don’t just lead subordinates — you lead other leaders. Even at the lowest level, you are a leader of leaders.”

Leaders are most remembered for their great ideas, passion, vision and work ethic. John Wooden once said, “If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything.” This same work ethic led Thomas Edison to create more than 10,000 prototypes before developing a commercially viable light bulb. He considered his mistakes by stepping on stones that would inevitably lead to innovation. This willingness to make mistakes allowed him to literally change the way we see our world. These same mistakes that lead to innovation of new processes and improved technology also improve our people.

Great leaders allow their Airmen the freedom to make mistakes and view those mistakes as learning opportunities. On the other hand, great Airmen take responsibility, fix the mistake, and put safeguards in place to ensure the mistake is not repeated. This very process results in a shift in perspective. At the lowest level, completing these steps would result in deeper perspective by not just executing a task or mission, but by thinking through the plan, visualizing second and third order effects, and creating contingency plans to avoid a similar mistake. Leaders that foster this type of environment project a sense of service to others, a confidence in the abilities of others, and a sense of humility that allows them to admit their own mistakes. In my opinion, an embodiment of this idea is retired Maj. Gen. Alfred Flowers. At the time of retirement, he was the longest-serving member in Air Force history and the longest serving African-American in the history of the Defense Department. As deputy assistant secretary for budget, he would admit problems and mistakes, but always ended with, “We are getting better every day.”

True leaders empower and support their people by decentralizing many mission execution decisions and allowing them to make mistakes in non-critical areas. This environment supports creativity resulting in innovative processes, ideas, and technology. Finally, trusting subordinates to make decisions fosters ownership of their programs and processes, a sense of responsibility and better judgment.

Take a moment to ask yourself, “Do I promote this type of environment amongst my peers, subordinates, and superiors?” It may seem counterintuitive and even unreasonable to expect excellence as a result of mistakes made by others, however, as George Bernard Shaw once said, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the conditions that surround him. The unreasonable man adapts surrounding conditions to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”




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


 
 

 
Samuel Price

RMO, stakeholders keep eye on sky

Samuel Price The road used to get onto the Barry M. Goldwater Range lies beneath the running water July 9, 2014, that resulted from monsoon rains. With data from the additional recently installed weather stations, personnel wil...
 
 

Resource management — Doing more with less

Since I joined the Air Force in 1992, our manpower and resources have been gradually reduced with no obvious change to the mission we support. While this has been labeled “doing more with less,” I don’t believe we’re truly doing any more than we did when I entered the military 22 years ago. We seem...
 
 

Situational awareness

Throughout my career, the importance of situational awareness has been driven into my head. This became exceedingly clear to me when I landed in Tabuk, Saudi Arabia. It was March 17, 2003, about 48 hours until Operation Iraqi Freedom kicked off. We were busy building tents, making bunkers and preparing to execute the mission. Doing...
 

 

Air Force OSI agents prevent online exploitation of children

QUANTICO, Va. — Child sex crimes are not unique to any particular base but are a perpetual problem across the Air Force and society. Online exploitation of children continues to be a problem and is routinely investigated by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. As part of this effort, AFOSI field units have partnered...
 
 

News Briefs February 27, 2015

MDG appointment line upgrade Patients calling the 56th Medical Group at 623-856-2273 Wednesday afternoon to schedule an appointment may reach a busy signal and may have to call back if all booking agents are on the line with other callers. The queue function allowing patients to wait on hold for the next available booking agent...
 
 

Airmen get T-bolts to give blood, win award

Tech. Sgt. Alisa Frisch, 56th Medical Group unit training manager, and Capt. Sharlott Uriarte, 56th Medical Support Squadron, were among the top 3 percent of award-winning blood drive coordinators recently honored by United Blood Services, earning a Hero Award for providing the largest impact on the blood supply. Of the 1,080 organizations that sponsored blood...
 




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