Deliberate Development

Professional Development for the Military Leader



Own The Message

Have you ever noticed how we judge the quality of the message against the messenger? We hear about something coming down the line and it is good or bad based on the person whom is saying it. It is rare that we hold the content of the message above the quality of the relationship of the person who says it.

Many of us learn about the Halo Effect in PME. It is where we look at someone in a more positive light because of a good first impression or a few big successes. We have a tendency to dismiss some of their hiccups because we have assigned an angel’s halo to them. Of course the opposite is true with a lesser talked about concept of the Horns Effect.

We can accept this potential pitfall and good leaders take ownership of their potential biases. However, almost none of us do this with our bosses. “That Pro Super is just trying to clear his board; he doesn’t care about us.” “That Section Chief keeps dishing out work because he is just trying to make rank.” There are very few people I know who haven’t muttered something like this about their boss.

The boss sends out tasks for us to work on and we look at the potential motives behind it. Instead, we need to look for how the work fits into the big picture. Although, I have met some pretty dumb and jerkish supervisors, I have not a single one who intentionally wanted to fail. With that mind, we might not like the plan, but we can at least say they are not purposefully driving the bus over the cliff.

Now, in order to lead our teams effectively through some task we know they will gripe about, we need to know the why. This comes by us asking our boss for the intent behind the task. How does this fit into the bigger picture? If he or she states it came from their boss, go to the source. Of course, you shouldn’t jump around the chain of command for some trivial task. Save this for things you know will impact the team in the long-term. For the more trivial stuff, embrace the suck and be a good leader for the team.

In Summary:
1. accept that your boss is not trying to fail on purpose
2. get the big picture intent behind the task
3. own the tasking and lead your team


Daily Deliberation: 20 May 2018

So often we look at what could happen and let all of the “what ifs” control our actions. We become crippled with the fear of something that isn’t even real. Statistics stop us in our tracks. Numbers on paper or a trend from the past. Sometimes there is not even a historical basis for our fear; rather, the ramblings of some idea fairy. It is very important to plan and seek the smartest route for our time and resources. Once we come up with a solution that is in-line with our core values, pull the trigger and go for it. Learn to recognize actual dangers and escape from the “what if” fantasy world.

Daily Deliberation: 15 May 2018

This really made sense to me after watching my 8 year old boss around her little brother. He agrees to be compliant when she is hen-pecking him, but that only lasts when she is around. Those who want to be the boss, are only effective when they are pulling the leash. Once they stop from exhaustion or have to move to another area, their influence is over. However, those who are leaders, can impact the masses long after they are gone.

Daily Deliberation: 13 May 2018

Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there. Without you this world would be a terrible place. Moms provide that love and nurturing no one else can ever give. Thank you!

Daily Deliberation: 11 May 2018

I am very guilty of this one. I have so many ideas for stories, courses I want to build, professional development products I want to create, and not to mention the things I want to do with my family and friends. However, just having an idea doesn’t do any good if we can’t get it out of our heads and place it in motion. The few times I have been successful at this is when I was deliberate in putting those tasks on my calendar and vowing to work on them at those times. Ideas without plans are like lost treasures with no map. Don’t deprive the world around you from the great things you are capable of and draw your map today.

Are You a Chief or an E-9?

This question is something that helped drive my decision to retire. A lot of people have asked me why I am getting out at 20 when I have a very good chance of making Chief and the answer is, “I can’t be the father I want to be and the Chief I would want to be.” I have worked with and for some amazing Chiefs over the years and I have also been around a lot of E-9’s too.

I am not going to bag on Chiefs for this article, I am just trying to make a point. In the service, we look at those who are just clearly going through the motions, abusing their position or whatever the case as E-#’s or O-#’s. They do not embody what the rank is; rather, they are just collecting the pay check. Why do people get like this?

I see two reasons. One is that their leaders let them. When a person gets into a leadership role, they are faced with a new challenge. Some become compliance junkies and others micromanage. Both strategies can get results in a lot of organizations. These people tend to produce for their boss and keep them out of trouble. However, they also run their people into the ground. The lesson is never learned, because the boss only sees the results and actually rewards the team leader. This is why you see so many horrible people in good favor with the commander or Chiefs.

The other reason is that the person may have been wronged in the past and wants to get revenge. These are the people who were hazed as a new guy and wants to be sure that everyone in his path also gets the same treatment. He doesn’t want to be the only one. These are the people who refuse to hear out their subordinate and I have heard some say “if the Air Force wanted you to have a family, we would have issued you one.”

Both leaders refuse to hear out their people or even acknowledge the most basic things unless they are forced to. How do you stop them? The first type requires senior leaders to get involved. The only way a toxic leader is discovered is if their boss bypasses them and talks to those on their team directly. A good leader can spot red flags and learn very quickly. For the other leaders, it is up to you and me to not create them. By allowing pain and suffering for the sake of “I had to do it” is stupid. Our team knows what we have control over and what we don’t, use your rank and authority to pave a smoother path and right the wrongs of the past.

I would love to hear some stories about bad bosses and/or how things got better.

Daily Deliberation: 25 April 2018

Trust is the center of gravity for many things.  If you don’t think that your supervisor or boss trusts you enough to give you greater responsibility or if your job lacks some level of satisfaction, you might be overlooking something.  One thing to think about in this situation is readiness; does your supervisor or boss think you are ready?  Show them that you are.  If able, do things that require you to step outside of your lane.  Demonstrate that you can do your job exceedingly well and take up the reigns of responsibility for something else that is not typically yours to own.  You might be surprised to find that those acts communicate more than words.  Those acts make you indispensable–a ‘linchpin’.  They’ll be more willing to trust you in unique roles and with greater responsibility.  You might even be given the room you need to act on your ideas with more freedom of movement.  Deeper trust is often given to those that appear ready for it.

Transformational Leadership Development: Idealized Influence

Today I would like to touch on one of the anchor points of a critical aspect of your development as a leader: Transformational Leadership (TL).

My main motivations for writing this section are two core beliefs:

  1. It is my belief that the traits that make successful leaders can be developed by focusing on the individual, while adhering to four core tenants of TL, and
  2. Leaders must lead, not manage (you lead people and manage programs)!

TL is often praised as the key to the total development of your followers; however we are not always shown “how” to lead in our developmental PME courses, and in my experience, much of the leadership development is left up to chance by letting individuals who have certain personality traits lead lines of effort—whether they are ready or not. But how do you, or your troops, develop these traits? Throughout this series I will explore the topic of TL and how you can apply it to your situation.

The first aspect of TL I would like to examine is Idealized Influence.Idealized Influence is your ability to act in ways that make you the role model— make your troops want to be like you! You are the consummate professional. You are charismatic, on-time, prepared, calm, positive, and stay true to your ethical and moral standards in the actions you take. You are honest, reliable and actively build trust with your followers. In other words you set the example; you walk the walk—but most importantly you have a vision.

You may not have all of these skills in your leadership toolbox now, but since we have identified what traits you need to practice you can start to include them in you daily interactions with your co-workers. For example, if one of your followers is having problems with a specific task you could take action by:

  1. Showing them how to do the task,
  2. Explain its importance to the overall objectives of the organization, and
  3. Highlight how important becoming proficient at this task is, and how they will be able to build a better tomorrow for their organization.

No matter how big your area of influence is, by practicingIdealized Influence, you can make an impact with your actions and foster a positive developmental environment for you troops and yourself.

In my next entry I will explore Inspirational Motivation, and how you can use it to broaden your influence and lead your teams.

Daily Deliberation: 22 April 2018

Pride in ownership takes a few ingredients.  I found this out through a program I tried creating in my unit, which immediately fell on its face as soon as it was enacted.  It was meant to encourage maintainers to take ownership in their aircraft.  One component to its failure was organizational structure and culture–it didn’t support pride in ownership.  Production in the aircraft maintenance community is very top-down and mechanical.  Jobs and assignments are often dictated.  If we are constantly telling our people what, where and when to do things, how can we hope to get their buy-in to such a concept?  It first requires communication of ‘the big picture’ and the team’s objectives–frame the situation–let them get creative with how to make it happen, ownership will follow.

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