It is critical that leaders at all levels engage with the Airmen around us. Regular interaction allows us to connect with teammates on a human level, ensure they are well cared for and track their development. It affords us the opportunity to mentor our teams as we navigate the chaos that comes with managing a human workforce.
Open door policies, brown bag lunches, and daily drive-by visits make this a simple enough process. The challenge we face is that we bear an equal responsibility to respect and advocate for healthy supervisor-subordinate relationships. It can be tempting to solve the problem or give advice on how to meet that goal; after all, we’ve been there before and know just what to do! While this impulse is well intended (and will guarantee us an instant shot of self-satisfaction), we also cut a supervisor off at the knees and rob them of the chance to build trust and confidence with that Airman. And sadly, the interaction will likely teach that Airmen to seek counsel from outside sources in the future. Next time you find yourself in this situation, consider biting your tongue and passing those thoughts or resources on to the supervisor. Teach them to do what you can and give them the chance to shine in the eyes of that Airman.