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Deliberate Development

Professional Development for the Military Leader

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Developing Others

Daily Deliberation: 10 November 2018

Although, I think the priority for this quote should be in reverse order, I do love the message. We need to remember that we are symbols of the US Armed Forces and most of the country does not know much about what we do. Thus, we need to represent ourselves as Airmen and as professionals…even when the rest of the country is showing their butts as morons through open debates. We need to remember we are a cut above the rest for a reason.

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Small Rewards Result in Big Changes

“Reward what you want repeated,” was something that has rattled around in my head for years. In fact, one of my first posts on this site was about that and recently I saw this phrase as I was reading Atomic Habits by James Clear. He reinforced my beliefs and then added the ‘why’.

The basic premise of reward what you want repeated is that when we give rewards (positive or negative), we are encouraging or discouraging a specific behavior. Something as simple as pointing out the action someone takes that reinforces the culture you are trying to nurture will encourage them to continue doing that action and those who see the reward will desire to mimic their peers. This is why commanders publicly coin Airmen for seemingly small things. This triggers something innate within others.

This innate feeling is what James Clear touched on in his book. He uses this instinct as he teaches people to create or break habits. Here is a broad brush view of this idea: think about smoking. There is not a single person on this planet who would argue smoking is good for you and almost everyone agrees the long term effects are very damaging; however, cigarettes and tobacco products are still flying off of the shelves. Our brains can’t picture ourselves in 20-30 years and adjust for that. We see and believe what is right here and now and smoking this one cigarette had no noticeable impact on me right now, so I can just quit before the bad stuff happens.

If we wanted to impact a smoking habit, we need to make the benefit or punishment immediate. This could mean every time you pass on a pack of smokes, you put that money aside for a trip you want to take or for something else you want to buy. Seriously stop right then, pull out your phone, open your bank app and transfer the money into your “vacation” account. Now the reward for not smoking is immediate as you see that account grow. You could also invert this idea as a punishment. Every time you buy a pack of cigarettes, you have to give money to a friend or something else that is immediate and visible.

Leaders can leverage this to foster the environment they are trying to create. For example, you want to increase the quality of work your team is producing. You could go on and on with lectures or public shaming of reading QA fails to the masses. We have all seen how pointless that is as the effects wear off within a week and you are right back to doing the same thing. OR you could get into the mix and seek the small victories. When you see a small example of something that contributes to better quality, call it out. Give a high five, fist bump, or brag about this person to others. This needs to happen often and immediate to create the new behavior you are striving for.

I have employed this method or have seen it employed on teams for years and there has been a 100% success rate. Everytime I have see this strategy employed it has worked and these leaders simultaneously earned the trust of their teams because they were seen as being visible, interested and involved. Rewarding the behavior you want repeated is a simple way to be a more effective leader and it is something you can begin immediately.

Here is the post I referenced in the beginning: Reward What You Want Repeated.

Daily Deliberation: 4 November 2018

Bottom line: Are you investing in people?

We spend so much time checking the boxes and teaching our team to check the boxes, that we hardly spend the time truly developing our team. We set them up to win awards and to get better forced distro rankings, but are we setting them up to lead? We need more leaders, not more promotees.

Daily Deliberation: 2 November 2018

Are we trying to make things around us better or simply repeating the same motions? Leaders need to stand up and silence those who are just echoing issues. We need to take ownership of the problems surrounding us and make things better.

Daily Deliberation: 26 October 2018

I find it amazing all of the things I was told that I could not do when I was younger. When we are young Airmen and NCOs, we are so filled with passion and motivated to fix things. However, their ideas are shut down before the first step is taken. I know I have re-attacked some of my old ideas now that I am more seasoned and they were shockingly easy. They would have been just as easy when I was an Airman, I just didn’t have people telling me it wasn’t possible now. The next time you have an idea or hear one from a teammate, give it some encouragement. It is better to try and fail than to do nothing.

Daily Deliberation: 24 October 2018

I completely believe we need to define what it is that makes us successful. For me, making rank is not my measuring stick for success. It is a external symbol. These external symbols of ranks, awards, etc. do not define success, they are the fruits of our labors. However, these are what people look at when they are judging our ability to be successful. When you look back on the last couple of years what are you most proud of? For me, it has been the people I have been able to help or the exciting projects I have been a part of. Work towards what excites you and will make you proud one day.

Daily Deliberation: 23 October 2018

Creating clones of ourselves is useless. In the book, Turn the Ship Around!, David Marquet talks about how he thought to be a great Navy Captain, he had to give great orders. His crew would be on the ready awaiting his every word and not move an inch until he said to. He realized he couldn’t think for dozens of people at the same time and that in order to be successful, each one had to lead themselves. We are not designed to walk and chew gum at the same time. We need to develop those on our team to do their jobs and let them go.

Daily Deliberation: 19 October 2018

I have learned we can be the smartest person in the room and have all of the right answers and still not make a difference. Until people realize we have their best interests in mind, they will never listen to what we are saying. If you want to make a difference, stop worrying about proving how right you are and start working towards a solution for your team.

Daily Deliberation: 18 October 2018

I love quotes. In fact, these daily quotes help me get my day started. But why only from notable people? Voltaire states that a quote doesn’t prove any fact, validate theories, solve problems, and he is correct. Quotes do give us insight into the minds and perspectives of others. If this same quote was signed, “Bob from down the street,” I probably would not be sharing it. We need to listen to the perspectives of those on our teams with the same respect, if not more, because I know Bob, I never met Voltaire.

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