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.


 
 

 
DoD-safety-pic

Safety, common sense help ensure happy holidays

I’ve always felt there are two important things to keep in mind during the holidays: Don’t let baby mistake the light-up nose on your Rudolph decoration for her “Baby’s 1st Christmas” pacifier, and go easy on the rum ...
 
 

CAL FIRE warns of home heating dangers during winter storms

As a major winter storm prepares to hit California, CAL FIRE is reminding residents to take steps to heat their homes safely. While the cooler weather and rain is a welcomed event during a time of severe drought in California, it also means that many will need to turn on home heating sources to keep...
 
 
Water-graphic

Prepare for water-wise winter: Tips and ideas

When the rain starts, conserving water may be the last thing that comes to mind. Yet given California’s Mediterranean climate, water conservation should be a daily, year-round habit for all of us. Save Our Water, a statewide ...
 

 

Tool to safeguard PII rolls out AF-wide

The Digital Signature Enforcement Tool debuted for Air Force-wide integration today, providing Microsoft Outlook email users with an interactive, automated virtual assistant to help ensure the security of personally identifiable information. “I can’t overstate the operational importance of preventing PII breaches,” said Maj. Gen. B. Edwin Wilson, the commander of 24th Air Force and Air...
 
 
winter-heating

Tips to heat your home affordably this winter

photo courtesy/StatePoint Media Climate control accounts for almost half the energy use in a typical U.S. home and is also the largest energy expense for most people — but it doesn’t have to be. With a few simple soluti...
 
 

VA implements second phase of Choice Card Program

Washington, DC – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today announced that it began mailing Veterans Choice Cards on Nov. 17 to Veterans currently waiting more than 30-days from their preferred date or the date that is medically determined by their physician for an appointment at a VA facility. “VA continues to focus on implementation...
 




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