Commentary

May 10, 2013

Leadership starts with why

Lt. Col. Phil Heseltine
916th Operations Group deputy commander

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — I recently had the unique privilege to spend time listening to and talking with Simon Sinek, author of the 2012 Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force’s Reading List book, “Start with Why.” If you have not heard him speak, read this book, or perhaps watched his technology, entertainment and design on-line presentation, I highly encourage you to do so.

The premise of Sinek’s book—and his presentation to us—is that many successful companies tend to manage their organizations and focus their business models and marketing strategies on why they do what they do rather than how or what they produce.

What does the statement “Mission First People Always” say about us? Everything we are and everything we do is about our mission. Sinek suggests that to be more successful in the Air Force, we should flip this to read “People First … Mission Always,” making our mission the “what it is” we do and our people the “why” in everything we do.

On the surface, it does not look much different. However, the strategic impact that message sends is powerful.

Sinek also described a reaction, which takes place whenever people make physical contact with each other. He said these feelings, delivered by the chemical oxytocin, are the same ones associated with deep friendship and love. These human-contact-induced reactions create sensations of trust and emotions very similar to the sense of bonds felt among groups who have experienced significant trials, hardships and even combat.

What is more interesting is you do not even have to make contact with someone to receive the same results.

Have you ever seen anyone stop to help a perfect stranger? Did it make you smile? If so, it’s because that same oxytocin reaction occurs when we witness acts of kindness and generosity.

My good friend Lt. Col. Dave Pike, 911th Air Refueling Squadron commander, started a tradition a few years ago of giving “high fives” on Fridays, which may seem pretty silly, until you do it. However, be forewarned, it is contagious.

On any given Friday across the wing, you will see active duty and Air Force Reserve flyers, maintainers and civilians—both in and out of uniform—”high-fiving” each other. For everyone involved, it provides a quick shot of oxytocin to get you through the day. Everybody wins!

As leaders, our actions speak volumes. Ask yourself this, how do you interact, communicate and recognize people within your organization, especially when they do well? Do you send them an email or perhaps a heartfelt text?

Imagine an Airman getting an email from you, buried among hundreds of bake sales and training notices, that says, nice work, thank you. Okay, not too bad.

How do you think that same message would be received if you were to walk over to them, hand them a personally written letter, or if you simply cannot get away, what if you were to pick up the phone and thank them personally? Getting better.

Now imagine that same young Airman whose commander is standing in front of him, in his work center or at a commander’s call, shaking his hand and saying “thank you” in front of his peers. We have oxytocin flying now!

Acts of true leadership, generosity and kindness take time and have a lasting effect. In addition, this “Analog Leadership,” builds trust within your organization by motivating and creating a sense of belonging among all our Airmen.

Ultimately, when we make people our why, in everything we do, and everything we are, at the end of the day, the mission will take care of itself.




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


 
 

 
colonel-john-richard-boyd

‘An Innovator’s DNA’: Col. John Boyd

Surprisingly, few Airmen have heard of Col. John Boyd, with far fewer aware of his innovative contributions to the advancement of modern-day air power. As the Air Staff feverishly reviews the thousands of innovative ideas submi...
 
 

Protecting your possessions while on vacation

Somewhere in southern Sicily a man at a remote café sighs, refreshed after a day of climbing hills, thanks to his new black support socks. Opposite him, his wife proudly thrusts her shoulders forward to accentuate her red Yoga T-shirt, even though she has the physique of a woman who loves double ladles of crème...
 
 

Investment in Vets produces tomorrow’s leaders

WASHINGTON, June 20, 2014 – The promise of a better tomorrow made to U.S. military veterans of World War II seven decades ago with the signing of the original GI Bill is the same promise the nation is keeping with its newest veterans and their families through the Post-9/11 GI Bill, President Barack Obama said...
 

 

National Safety Month: Preventing vehicle-induced heatstroke deaths

Just because a car isn’t moving doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, in 2013, 43 children died from heatstroke inside vehicles – one of the deadliest years to date. These tragedies can happen to anyone, but are preventable with the proper education and action. This National Safety Month, the National Safety...
 
 

VA releases results of nationwide audit

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released the results from its Nationwide Access Audit, along with facility level patient access data, medical center quality and efficiency data, and mental health provider survey data, for all Veterans health facilities. Full details were made public at VA.gov, June 9, following Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan Gibson’s...
 
 

Safety month focuses on unintended injuries

Itasca, IL – June is National Safety Month, and the National Safety Council (NSC) is calling on Americans to take notice of the fifth leading cause of death – unintentional injuries. Every four minutes someone in the U.S dies from an unintentional injury. That’s 120,000 people a year. Sixty-seven percent of all injury-related deaths in...
 




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