Deliberate Development

Professional Development for the Military Leader


Developing Others

Importance of SNCOs Mentoring Officers

“Why are you putting this LT with me?” is a question I have heard in various forms from fellow SNCOs. To be honest, I have asked this question before too. It took some time at the SNCOA to truly appreciate the importance of my time with officers.

We have all read in the little brown book (AFI 36-2618) and have seen the excerpt about working with and developing officers by sharing our knowledge and experience. However, what does this really mean? I used to think it meant we were to be “advisers” for job related questions and to offer insight into the complex inner workings of the enlisted mind. This somewhat confused me, because I always thought the best way to get the most relevant job-related info or to get a true pulse for the Airmen was to talk to the SSgts and TSgts. But the little brown book doesn’t mention officer development until the SNCO tier (par 5.1.8.). Why?

While at the SNCOA it finally clicked. The entire class of SNCOs gets bused to the officer’s first PME known as SOS. This is a school filled with captains from all over the AF. Every SNCOA class goes there to discuss whatever topics they choose. We were tasked with enlisted development and broken up into small groups. I learned from them that they do not receive much education or training in this area at all from their superiors. Most of what they learn is from their peers or us.

This quickly caused me to flashback to all those times I had a new LT shadowing me and I was more concerned with finding something shiny for him to go play with rather than taking the time to teach. If you think about it, young CGOs are always paired with a SNCO. This is because they are thrust into positions where they have similar or even more authority than a SNCO, but without the experience.

Think about most MSgts you know. On average it took him or her at least 12 years to earn that stripe and even longer for SMSgts and Chiefs. That is 12 plus years of learning their trade, cultural norms, what it takes to be successful in the career field and they have had some trials and errors in how to lead those rising through the ranks. Now, imagine being brand new off of the street and trying to run a shop without any of that knowledge or experience. It would be a nightmare!

That is exactly what our young officers are thrust into and then those who can actually help them learn are focusing on how to ditch them. Rather, we need to be taking advantage of the opportunity being provided to us and set them up for success. They are the ones who will be creating the policies our teams will be bound by in the future.

Almost every time I speak with a senior officer, I ask them how I can be a better mentor to the CGOs in my organization. I have spoken to countless Colonels and even a couple of 1- and 2-star Generals on the topic. All have given the same advice: help them learn their trade and don’t make decisions in a bubble.

Help them learn their trade: Are they an intel, maintenance, personnel, finance, etc? Teach them how what the role of each person on the team is. Show them how the process works and show them how to find the pulse of the organization. Have them go to nightshift and do some dirty work for awhile so they can see what the Airmen are going through. What are the things you look for on a daily/weekly basis that determine how the team is functioning and morale is intact? Show them.

Don’t make decisions in a bubble: This is as simple as sharing the thought process you are using to solve a problem. Instead of doing all the leg-work and creating a plan in your head on your own, think out loud. We place a lot of thought into our decisions, but it appears to be voodoo to young officers when it seems like we make our choice, especially on tough decisions that require some navigation through the grey. There is a lot of value in sharing why we don’t jump on the obvious solution that would solve the problem, but impact those with boots on the ground and that is why you chose X instead of Z.

When we take the time to teach our officer corps the lessons we have learned, we are investing in the future of our teams.

Secret to Success: Train Up, Train Down

Here is a concept I adopted a long time ago: Train Up, Train Down. I really wish I could remember where the idea came from, although I am certain I simplified it into this phrase as a teen while training in martial arts. The concept is really quite simple in practice; you train to learn what those above you know and you pass down what you know to those below you.

In the martial arts world, wisdom and techniques have lived on for thousands of years utilizing this principle. There are very clear lines of delineation in terms of rank that make it easy to see who the higher ranking and more advanced practitioners are. You know what belt you are and the belt you want to be and then you learn what is required to attain the belt and train until you know it. Then you take what you have been taught to get your current belt and teach it to those behind you. Very simple and effective construct.

This works in most areas of life still today. The difference is that is not always clear who is ahead or behind. Sure, there is the boss and those in command at the top but they are not necessarily the functional experts in the area you are trying to grow. The boss should be the expert at helping the team work together towards a goal. He or she does not need to know how to do your job to make this happen; they just need to know how to set you up to succeed.

So then, how do you find the person above you? The student-teacher relationship is not defined in the real world. Once we are effective in our jobs, we rarely have a trainer take us through tasks. It is now up to us to do this. If you want to be better at something, it is up to you to grow in that area. We have to accept responsibility for our own paths and take the initiative to become better in our craft.

The way we do this is taking an honest assessment of our own abilities. Then we need to look at those who are more successful than us in that area. For me, time management has been a constant revolving door. It is an area I have been striving to improve upon for many years now and I am always on the lookout for someone or some product that could aid me in this endeavor. When I see an opportunity to grow into a better time manager, I ask the person how they do certain tasks, I read reviews about the product, etc.

It is usually very easy for us to spot those doing something better than us. It is not always as easy to spot those who are trailing behind. However, when we take a step back we can see those in our organization who are making or are about to make the same mistake we have made at one point. Pull him aside and ask if you can offer a piece of advice. I find most of the time people are all ears especially when they are trying to dust themselves off after taking a tumble.

We get better by aspiring to be like those who are better than us in certain areas. We become better by humbling ourselves to learn and practice their teachings. We continue a legacy when we teach others the lessons we have learned. Train Up and Train Down.

3 Lessons Learned from my Father

“You are a man now. What you do or don’t do is your choice, but you have to own the consequences of those choices.” These were the words spoken to 15-year-old me by my father almost 22 years ago. To this day, I still reflect on that moment and the many more where he offered sage advice to the developing young adult he was charged with raising. Today he turns 77 and I would like to not only wish him a happy birthday, but reflect on some of the lessons he imparted upon me.

First off, Elmer Lawrence is an extremely proud veteran of the Vietnam War. He enlisted into the Navy and served on the Fletcher-class destroyer, the USS Pritchett. He only served one term, but these years not only shaped him as a man; they served as the foundation he raised me on as well. I can’t even begin to count all the things he taught me that led with, “in the service we…” His many lessons not only motivated me to join the service; it also sparked a life-long passion for studying leadership principles.

One lesson he taught me that impacted me the most was indirect and something I gained from his example more than his words. I have reflected over the years how he always has been able to stand out from within a crowd. He never played organized sports, didn’t have a formal college education or go through some executive coaching program to learn leadership; however, every organization he has ever been a part of, he was a recognized leader. In fact, the only formal training he had on being a leader was as a young enlisted sailor. How did he do it then?

I have written before about how I learned to gain the trust of others through sweat equity and genuinely wanting to help others. My father worked circles around his peers. He didn’t do this to show them up; rather, to lift them up. I can’t think of a single moment where he was asked to help someone and he said ‘no.’ Still to this day, he will drop what he is doing to be there for someone in need. That is true service.

Another thing learned from him was to guard my reputation. “Who you associate with, is who people will think you are.” Over the years I have morphed this into, “if you want to be a champion, run with champions.” We tend to act like and find our motivation from those around us. When all of our friends are taking college classes or doing things to take care of their Airmen, we tend do these things too. When our friends are motivated, we probably are too. It is not solely because of peer pressure; rather, we gravitate towards those with similar interests. So, take a look at your friends and you will see your reflection. If you don’t like what you see, it is time to make some tough changes.

Although there are many more lessons he taught me, I am going to discuss just one more. One thing my father and all of my siblings are known for is our candor. In fact, I am probably the most politically correct and most reserved out of all the Lawrences. However, I never have shied away from offering my honest opinion when asked or been afraid to be vocal about something I think is wrong. This has served me very well over the years as I have been trusted to handle some tough situations because of this character trait alone.

Not only has my father planted the seeds of leadership development within me, he has provided an example of what a man should be. He has also helped me to discern my purpose on this planet at a young age. I wake up each day to serve others through mentorship just as he has in my life. I hope that my children see some of these qualities within me too and they pass them onto those around them, but until then Happy Birthday Dad and Thank You for placing me on the right path.


Managing Talent

Talent“To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability…The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.” Matthew 25:15-18 (NIV)

The Parable of the Talents is one of my favorite stories because it hits me on so many levels. First off, the play on words is something I appreciate. A talent was a measurement used for money in the Bible days and represented something very valuable. Today we recognize a talent to be a valuable skill or ability. Then there is the magic of parables that enables us to derive a deeper meaning from them and even watch the meaning change as we grow.

When I first heard this parable, I interpreted it from the perspective of how I was gifted with certain abilities and it was up to me to use those to elevate myself in the world. As time went on, I realized I need to use my talents to invest in others so they can grow and make their lives better. Now, my view has evolved even further into how to manage and grow the talent that those on my team possess.

As leaders, we often follow the path of the three men in this story. Some have someone who is very talented, but bury his abilities. We may be afraid that someone else will notice him and want to take him from the team. Maybe someone will see he is more talented than me and he will become my boss. Talent is not something to be afraid of.

When our leaders see we can manage the talent on our team, they are pleased with our ability to do so and often promote us based on how we leverage talent. The other two men took the talents given to them and invested them to receive a return on that investment. The only difference between them was the amount each was given based on their abilities. Their master knew his men and what they could handle.

I like to picture managing talent like starting a camp fire. When someone our team is trying to get the fire going, they are exercising their talents for the good of the team. Those afraid to let their talent shine toss water on the fire or hide the tools to get it going. All they are doing is angering their talented people and both are standing cold in the dark. Meanwhile, the opposite are fanning the flames and finding sticks for their talent to use to make the fire stronger. This team not only is warm, but others become attracted to the flames.

We all have areas where we are talented. I have never met someone who had zero talent (although with some I had to look harder than others). It is up to us to seek out and recognize the abilities of those on our team and to leverage those to 1) meet the mission and 2) grow others on the team. It is up to us to fuel their fires so they can shine and help the whole team.

I personally hope that I am never the most talented or smartest person on my team. If I am, we are destined to fail. Not because I think I am not talented, but because it is a sign I am not investing my ability into those I am entrusted to lead. I have been given talents and a team. If I am using those gifts to mentor others and giving them room to grow, they are going to take all I have and build on that. My job as a leader is to solidify the foundation under their feet so they can be sure-footed. It is not to build walls to cage them or toss water on their fires.

We all need to develop and use our talents to improve the world around us. We also need to help others use and grow theirs. The moment we stifle a talent (whether it is our own or another’s), we hurt the entire team.

The Small Moments

teaching moments“I remember when I was brand new to the line and you pulled me aside to show me how to use the inspection cards better. I have used that technique every time I have taught someone.” This is something that a TSgt shared with me a while back. He was telling me at his going away how I helped him as an Airman to do his job better. Sadly, I don’t remember this exact moment at all, but I am so thankful I was able to help him. How many small moments have we all had in our lives where someone has impacted us or we have impacted them?

Ever since I was a teenager teaching martial arts, I have had a desire to share what I have learned with others. I believe my purpose is to serve others through mentorship so they can grow to meet their full potential and be able to grow others. One of those ways we can serve others is by taking advantage of the small moments. When we see an opportunity to pull someone aside and show them how to do something better or offer some growth feedback, we need to take it.

In my own mind, I can go back to scores of small moments where someone has done this for me and it altered my course. These were some of the most powerful messages I have received, because they were timely and relevant. When I heard some great advice or even feedback after the fact, it was helpful but not as relevant and the impact was not the same. There is something about the gesture of someone stopping what they are doing to take the time to work with me. This tells me on another level that it is super important and this person thinks I am valued. If they said let’s schedule a feedback session next week and we will go over this, I will not care anymore and they are actually inconveniencing me.

It is scary and humbling to think people are going to remember these lessons more than those we have carefully prepared. They are learning from how we handle certain situations and the timely advice we offer. I remember showing up to the flightline as a young technician and hearing “they taught you the right, I will teach you the real way.” This is a stupid comment on every level. What they taught me was to find a different trainer.

Sometimes we are the people who are remembered for moments like that. We are not always on our game and can have a negative impact also. There have been several people who have come up to me and said “you were a real @$$ to me that one time, but eventually I got to know you more and saw you weren’t.” All these were those small moments where I had a bad day or just not in the mood and made an off-comment or lost my temper. This is how I was viewed. I wonder how many people I did this too who have never given me another chance or still think this about me.

I have been at the same base for a long time now and have worked with or been around a lot of maintainers. In fact, there was a point when I was an instructor where I had taught at least one objective to over half of the Crew Chiefs at this base. Sometimes it is scary because people remember the small moments so well and I know I am not perfect. Because I have been here so long I do receive feedback on some of these moments from others; however, those of you who actually do move from base to base may not be so fortunate and may not have the time to undo a bad moment with a particular person.

We need to be cognizant of what is going on around us. As we are walking through our work centers or engaged in a project with others, we need to take advantage of the small moments. When you see someone struggling, go over and offer some assistance. Maybe it is just a little encouragement like, “you are on the right track and I will hang out until you are good to go.” There is rarely a day that goes by where we do not come across an opportunity to share something we have learned with a peer, subordinate or even the boss. Don’t let these moments pass you by because they are your chance to have a major impact on another’s life.

Mired thinking

MudpitIn the military, we often note that some of what we do is inextricably linked to traditions.  Our rank structure, uniforms, customs, courtesies, and values are often tied to what we’ve always done and that serves to perpetuate our organizational identity as a whole.  While most of that makes sense, we also easily become mired in old ways of thinking.  Those of us that have been in the military for a while know this; traditional thinking that was stuck in one direction from when I enlisted inevitably changed over time.  I even acknowledge that as a senior enlisted leader, I look at some ideas and scoff at them without really giving the idea its due diligence.

Looking at things as an MBA candidate, I also can’t help but see that older ways of thinking are what hold back an organization from success.  When you strip away the frills of the military, our core functions are what matter.  Using “this is how we do it at base X” doesn’t seem fully logical, but neither does staying consistently stationary simply because “it’s the way it has always been done”.  Our mission sets change, as do the demands on our people, and those differences and demands are different across the force as well as they are across functional areas.  There are a few barriers to new ideas that I’ll discuss here, although one must recognize that there is an exhaustive and detailed list that could be made on this issue.

Levels of hierarchy and regulation add increasing levels of complexity.  Probably one of the most obvious reasons we get mired in old ways of thinking about issues that face our military is the inherent hierarchical and regulatory environment in which we operate as a military.  When you have an idea about something but do not know how to address the issue, it stops, or even your supervisor is oblivious to the process of highlighting the changes.  Even new ideas are often vetted for relevance through the chain of command, which is time consuming—making any ‘new’ change irrelevant by the time it is even considered.  Or, they are shot down immediately on the spot.  Regulations are often not flexible and they change very infrequently–and there are varying versions of the same regulation.  Newer generations of military members often take to social media for action—an easily accessed arena where they can collaborate with like-minded individuals.  It has also proven in the past to be a medium that can affect change, making it an attractive, albeit controversial avenue.

Senior leaders applying old paradigms of thinking about situations.  I would be the first to admit that even though I am a maintainer by trade, I do not have a fully accurate picture about my career field at the technical or tactical level.  I haven’t turned a wrench on an aircraft in some time.  For me to apply what I used to know to change the environment would be incorrect—I am not connected to the challenges faced today, as they may be different from what I faced 4 or 5 years ago.  Instead, I can involve subordinates that have the technical relevance of today’s environment and make changes with their counsel.  It is also important to recognize that leaders imposing an old idea or frame of thinking into an organizational change or new concept and calling it innovative is not the way to empower others to do so—it cuts buy-in at the lower levels at the cost of making the leader feel like they’ve left a mark on the organization, even though it doesn’t change anything.  Imposing a wanted outcome is not the way to gain buy-in from people; instead it is a more creative way of issuing an order.

It’s simply easier to tolerate the status quo than deal with trying to change things.  Often, subordinates simply throw in the towel, believing that they do not have the sway necessary to make any real changes.  Instead, they get by with the current ways of doing things without having the ability to fully realize any kind of organizational efficiency or effectiveness that is needed to make their jobs easier.  Or, individuals that espouse the ideas are often too mired in current organizational processes or demands, unable to push or champion their idea because they are maxed out.  They will simply ride the wave of changes handed down to them.  Senior leaders can fall victim to the same way of thinking.  Instead of looking for innovation, they often seek unyielding compliance with the status quo even when it may not make good sense in the current organizational context to do so.  This is often done to simply appease the appearance of good organizational practices instead of doing the work to really examine things as they are and identify the regulatory shortfall.

When all changes are always dictated from the top levels of the organization, people stop thinking creatively.  People often wonder why ideas do not emanate from the lower echelons.  This is because they get so used to their leaders and managers dictating what WILL happen that they believe their voices will not be heard.  This smothering effect can also create turbulence in the organization when changes are needed and silence other kinds of communication highlighting important issues.  It also creates bottlenecks in action because no actions are taken immediately without explicit guidance from the top.  This symptom also leads to a path of creating an immature organization where no real ownership exists because no one can take ownership for any changes or ideas, no construction of real commitment to the organization.

Knowing what organizational changes are needed, but not really knowing how to go about changing anything.  When new ideas do bloom, we’ve only armed NCOs with visceral concepts, so their ability to trigger action is limited.  PME concepts are the formal educator of leaders in the military.  Unfortunately, PME is taught in a ‘glass box’ scenario, where the organization is perfect and you face an ideal situation where all that is needed to change things are to unfreeze the current process, change it, and freeze processes or ideas to lock in changes—but bridging that gap from theory to practice is far more challenging than a few paragraphs about a romantic concept.  Young NCOs may not possess the skill needed to push such changes because of lack of operational or strategic experience—and pushing them into the deep end to try to affect changes without someone guiding and backing them sets them up for failure.  Organizations are far more complex and require more than moving a few levers to make changes.  It goes back to understanding what your organization does in some detail, what effects the changes will make, and how the organization will react to them—even so far as to understanding its structure and informal relationships.  Issuing a policy or an order will yield one form of compliance, but it likely will not ensure any level of consistent action if it isn’t constantly reinforced.

These are just a few of the challenges faced by both young NCOs AND senior leaders.  Understanding some of the best ideas are given to us by our subordinates is critical–listen to them.  I was recently given some insight by one of my NCOs; I believe his insight triggered something he has seen as a problem for a long time.  He will likely affect changes to an entire fleet of aircraft because he gave me one idea and I linked it to the bigger picture.  Trust them–they are going to be leading our military in the next decade.

What Would the Forefathers Think of Us Today?

portrait_bf240 years ago some brave statesmen adopted our Declaration of Independence from the tyrannous Great Britain. Their signatures were treason and punishable by death. Their signatures and courage to stand up was a declaration of war on the most powerful nation on the planet. Have we let our forefathers down as many claim?

It is scary to think about whether we have lost our purpose as a nation. Many say we are drifting so far away from the Constitution and that our current government leaders (and those currently running for office) are more worried about elections than making things better. I think about our nation today and wonder if our leaders would have the courage to do the same thing. Have we deteriorated the moral fabric of our country?

“This new generation of Airmen really is not as respectful as we were. They have it so easy and yet still want everything handed to them.” Sound familiar? This is what a lot of complain about today; however, the exact same complaint was made about my generation and we are all now SNCOs and we made the same comments about this generation of NCOs when they Airmen. This is not a new issue at all, “The youth have never been more insolent.” This is a paraphrased quote from the minister Thomas Barnes back in 1624. This is before the forefathers who penned the Declaration of Independence were even born. The point is, each generation has questioned the character of the up and coming youth.

Different is not bad. I will definitely say there have been a lot of changes over the years and the way I was treated as an Airman was worse than today. We did not have our own dorm rooms at first. Base facilities were very basic and the opportunities offered by base recreation centers are amazing comparatively. However, the generation that preceded me made things better for me and hopefully my generation has done the same for the next. When we can make life better, we are not worried about basic things and can focus on other issues.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” In many ways, the initial intent (at least the wording) of the Declaration of Independence has never been truer than they are today. It took 89 from our birth to abolish slavery; 144 years for women to have the right to vote; 188 years to end segregation; and 234 years to accept gays into the military. Although we do go way overboard on the politically correct stuff, we are finally at a place in our history where we are looking at all Men as equals.

When I look at why I serve my nation it is because I want my children to never look at others as if they are less or not valued like another. I want them to look at those around them as having equal rights and privileges. I want them to understand how each American makes our nation great and has a lot to offer. Just because they may not agree with another’s views or lifestyle, they are still able to contribute to society. I am actually very excited and hopeful that in my lifetime the residual racism and discrimination against others’ lifestyles will fade to a point where we stop fighting for a place at the table and start fighting to push our nation forward. Even though Ben Franklin might offer some dissent about this generation, I am excited to see to what new heights we will rise.

You can’t make a hole in water

a life is not important“Why don’t you take some time off?  You’ve been working hard.”

“If I’m not here, who else is going to make sure this place is running?”

This is a fallacy that many of us find ourselves believing.  Not only is it unhealthy because it can become a source of ‘bad stress’, but because at the end of the day, no matter how much you do, you are ultimately replaceable.  Eventually, we all get replaced and things still move forward.

Gordon R. Sullivan offered this advice to people that inflated their role in the book Leadership: The Warrior’s Art by Chris Kolenda; “When you are beginning to think you’re so important, make a fist and stick your arm into a bucket of water up to your wrist.  When you take it out, the hole you [leave] is a measure of how much you’ll be missed.”[1]

If you think that’s discouraging, here’s a cheeky perspective;

“If Tetris has taught me anything, it’s that errors pile up and accomplishments disappear.”

Think back to times in the military, and even in the civilian sector, when you’ve seen people come and go in your organization.  I can tell you from firsthand experience that it is sobering to realize that you hardly see a difference in how things are taken care of day-to-day as those people come and go.  It makes you question what impact you really have on things around you.

You’re saying, “Enough with that already, I get it, what I do today doesn’t matter tomorrow in the grand scheme of things”.  Wrong.  Well, yes and no.  I used to coin a phrase during situations when my coworkers and I working in aircraft maintenance production management would get too embroiled in work or too ‘ambitious’.  I would say, “There is no such thing as a maintenance hero”.  My point was that no matter how much we accomplished or how ‘on point’ things were, weeks down the road those accomplishments would be forgotten, like water flowing under a bridge.

What mattered was that we moved the ball down the field, moved the organization to a good position; there was no need to attempt to conquer the world in one day.  Those accomplishments are fleeting; you’ll face a different set of the same tasks or challenges the next day.  Strive to do great things, but you don’t need to beat up your people, waste resources, or stress yourself out every day to do that.  It is doubtful you will be remembered for what you’ve accomplished; rather, you are remembered for the impact you have on individuals.  If you are lucky, people will remember you for the impact you had on them and the great things you’ve done.  There are many people that I think about that I’ve encountered in my career that made an impact on me that were ‘just’ aircraft mechanics—and quite a few of them still are.  Their accomplishments may not have been broad and grand, but their impact on me was.  I often remember the personal characteristics of my former coworkers, not what we were doing when we were having a laugh or enjoying the camaraderie we shared.

I would argue that your leadership style, not your control over things or your managerial prowess, will be remembered.  That’s what creates enduring teams and builds connections.  What lasts are the impressions you leave people with.  Even if you don’t have a heart-to-heart discussion with a subordinate, how you conduct yourself and treat them leaves an impression.  People remember things like that.  We all have a 100 percent chance of death; it is likely that we will live on in the hearts and minds of the people that we love or those that we’ve made impressions on.  No one is truly remembered by their accomplishments alone—even those that have done great things in history have gained that legendary status because of the impact they made on others.

In Francis Ford Coppola’s Patton, the closing scene has General Patton and General Bradley walking through a quaint European village, discussing all they accomplished during the war.  Patton used an anecdote to illustrate an important point.  “For over a thousand years Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of triumph, a tumultuous parade. In the procession came trumpeters, musicians and strange animals from conquered territories, together with carts laden with treasure and captured armaments. The conquerors rode in a triumphal chariot, the dazed prisoners walking in chains before him. Sometimes his children, robed in white, stood with him in the chariot or rode the trace horses. A slave stood behind the conqueror holding a golden crown and whispering in his ear a warning: that all glory is fleeting.”[2]

[1]  Kolenda, C. D. (2001). Leadership: The Warrior’s Art. Carlisle, PA: Army War College Foundation Press.

[2] Francis Ford Coppola’s Patton, closing scene quote.

Leave a Legacy

When the topic of legacies arises, who comes to mind?  For many, it is a former president, commander, etc.  There is often very little talk about those who have the most impact in another’s life, the people who impact others on a one-on-one basis.

In many families there is a lineage of veterans leading from WWII or Vietnam to today.  These proud vets may have impacted hundreds or even thousands of people without even realizing it.  Their words may have left a lasting legacy in the hearts and minds of those whom were touched.  Pericles, the ancient Athenian general, said, “What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”

There are thousands of Airmen, soldiers, sailors and Marines serving today who started off on a rocky path, but managed to turn it all around.  When asked, ‘why?’  The answer is always the same, “My supervisor pulled me aside and put me on the right path.”  “If it weren’t for him/her I would be out on the street, in prison or even dead.”

Former Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, David J. Campanale credited his supervisors at his first base for, “turning his attitude around.”  These lower level supervisors saw his potential, took him under their wing and steered him onto the right path.  He later rose to the highest enlisted rank in the Air Force.  What if no one had cared?

At this point there is very little question that anyone can have a lasting impact on others if they are simply willing to invest their time. What must be gained in order to leave a legacy woven into the lives of others? The most important thing is respect.  Earn the respect of another and their heart will follow.  It is earned by first respecting him or her and then by setting the right example.  According to a psychological study done by Elizabeth Brondolo, the number one quality desired by subordinates is the support and to know that “…their supervisors care about them.”

Caring enough to be truly honest with another is a quality many don’t have.  Many supervisors only care about making people happy or getting the mission accomplished.  They are counting on the respect afforded to them through rank and position of authority not on “earned” respect.  There are leaders people want to follow and there are leaders that force others to follow.  General Eisenhower said, “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” Respect is the easiest thing for a leader to earn; you simply have to be respectful.

When you truly respect someone and project that respect, they will follow suit. By showing you respect their time and do your best to get them out of the work center so they can make a family dinner. Encouraging them to make their child’s first day of school. Rolling up your sleeves and joining the team when short-handed. All the other things you would respect from your boss is what you need to do in order to earn their respect. Even those who do not like you personally can respect you and can find a way to work with someone they respect.

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