Deliberate Development

Professional Development for the Military Leader

Daily Deliberation: 18 August 2017

I think all of our units have a mission and vision statement written or hanging on some wall. We walk past it everyday and may have caught a glimpse. Sometimes, we memorize it because the Chief has called people out during roll calls. What is the purpose? EPR/OPR bullet for our leaders? At least, that is what we tend to think. A vision is intended to paint the picture for where the team is heading. Like before we start a road trip, we know we are going to grandma’s. We need to do the same thing with our teams. Tell them where we are going and the milestones we need to hit along the way and then equip them to accomplish each. This is how you turn random words on a wall into action.

Daily Deliberation: 17 August 2017

Do you agree that respect is earned? When I first started my career, I thought this was true on an individual level. For example, “he takes care of his people, he has earned my respect.” However, if you think about it, there are two different types of respect. We respect people out of fear for their position or respect them for the quality of their character. If the wing commander was the biggest jerk on the planet, we might not respect his character, but we would still follow his lawful orders out of fear for his position. Respect is always there.

Daily Deliberation: 16 August 2017

This is one of the biggest complaints I have ever heard about those of us with rank. “SNCOs look good because we work hard for them and then they forget all about us.” This kills me to think I may have given that impression and I work really hard to never do that. We are a team that needs everyone on it to be successful. Those doing the work make the mission happen. Those of us with rank are there because we have more experience and the ability to see the obstacles coming up and move them before the team gets there. People are not on our teams to service our desires…we serve each other to lift each other.

Daily Deliberation: 15 August 2017

I can still remember the day I defined my “why”. Throughout my whole life I have been a student of leadership and have had a passion for teaching others. I tried different variations of these two and had a great time, but it wasn’t until I married the two that I felt the fire. I started this site and will be working with civilians soon with this underlying purpose: “to serve others through mentorship so they can learn from my successes and failures and get at least one step further than I have.” What drives you each day? Not sure, feel free to connect with me and I would love to help you figure it out.

How to Inspire Purpose with Your Team

The Air Force has experienced an exodus of the NCO tier over the past couple of years. Many have stated several different reasons from PME (non-issue now), to forced distribution, to changes in the retirement, to disengaged leadership. After much reflection and discussion with some other SNCOs who want to make a difference, there were two main underlying themes we uncovered: trust and a loss of purpose. I will address the trust issue in another article; however, in this one I want to discuss how we can help our team find their purpose.

As SNCOs we have the ability to peek behind the curtain of the inner workings of the Air Force and it is our duty to communicate the big picture and how our team aligns with it. I always tell my team that if there is a communication, trust or culture issue, it is my fault. So, for those reading this I will take ownership of what I can and try to communicate this the best I am able.

Here is a parable that has been shared in many leadership books: A man came across three stonecutters and asked them what they were doing. The first replied, “I am making a living.” The second kept on hammering while he said, “I am doing the best job of stonecutting in the entire county.” The third looked up with a visionary gleam in his eye and said, “I am building a cathedral.”

Recently, I asked some of our Crew Chief students what tasks they did that particular day. One replied she opened the cargo door and ramp on the C-17. “That sounds very interesting. How did you do that?” Her response was initially a simple ‘by-the-book’ answer. Then I asked her to walk me through the process and she did so flawlessly. Lastly, I asked why she needed to learn how to do that. She said, “Because my instructor said I had to.” This answer is like the one given by the first stonecutter. She was just doing the job because she was told to.

A lot of people in our shops are the same way. They are the people who ready to go as soon as the duty day ends. They are only there because they were told to be. No one has communicated the importance of what they do. Then you will find a handful of people who are akin to the second stonecutter. They are working to be the the best technician they can be. The likely scenario is a hard-working NCO pulled them aside and instilled pride in them. I used to do this as a NCO. I would talk about how each job we did on the aircraft had our name on it and I wanted people to see my name and know it was done right.

Now, think about all of the deployments you have been on or the different shops you have been apart of. You can see how the contributions of others made certain things happen. I remember the day I realized how a small issue back at home station impacted an aircraft getting to its next several stops in time to reach a small window where it could land at its midway point. This cost the mission at least another day. Then this snowballed all the way to the deployed location where the aircraft ultimately was three days late with cargo going to a forward deployed Army unit. And who knows exactly how that impacted them fully.

I saw back to my younger days when I was faced with similar issues that technician faced back at home station that started the snowball in motion. There were times I was the first stonecutter and was just going through the motions of the day and didn’t want to start something new because it would hold me over shift. There were those times I was so prideful in being the best Crew Chief, that I would not ask for help and try to figure it out all on my own. My personal pride of being seen as ‘the man’ outweighed the overall big picture of getting the plane fixed.

What I was missing in my earlier days was the picture of that soldier sleeping in the dirt under his MRAP waiting for his supplies to arrive on my plane. Or the picture of the evacuees from Hurricane Katrina or the Haiti earthquakes being airlifted on a C-17. Or the many other awesome things our teams are supporting all around the world. Sadly, most of the people doing the actual work never get to see the impact of what they are doing. It is up to us to communicate this to them.

I can picture the master mason of the stonecutters sitting with the third and painting the picture of all the people walking into this cathedral they were building. He showed them connecting with God and all the good things that would happen there and how people would marvel at its beauty for years to come. This stonecutter envisioned himself walking through the massive doors and seeing his stone in the archway and another in the floor beneath his feet and another in the wall behind the priest. Without his stones, the cathedral would not exist. What cathedral is being built by your team and how can you help them picture it?

Daily Deliberation: 13 August 2017

Have you ever thought you weren’t good enough to do something? When you thought that, it probably crippled you with fear to try something new. I know I feel that way all the time, especially with trying to start a media company. “Who am I to think others want to read my posts or listen to my podcast?” Instead we need to stop worrying about all the people who might not like it; rather, worry about adding value to the one who will learn from us. If we can help just one other person get a little further along in life, I think that is pretty amazing.

Daily Deliberation: 12 August 2017

A good friend of mine once told me that excuses only make YOU feel better. What is the point of an excuse? No one has ever thought, “He really screwed me over by not following through on what he said, but at least he had an excuse.” Whew! It is important to get to the root of the problem sometimes and that is what we think we are doing when we make excuses. “I was late, because of traffic.” The problem is still there, you were late. Instead of worrying about making yourself look or feel better, try saying what you will do to fix the problem. “Sorry I was late guys, let me take the task no one else wants.”

Daily Deliberation: 11 August 2017

Many years ago, a mentor of mine told me that people want to be led. At first I was cynical and thought he must’ve saw this in a fortune cookie. Then I started stepping back and observing groups of people. When something would come up, they were all hesitant to step up and take charge. There would actually be a look of relief on many faces when someone would take ownership. This applies to most areas of our lives. We are always looking to see what other are doing before we step out. What are the leaders in fitness doing to get bigger arms? What are the leaders in <insert industry> doing? People want to be led…so lead them!

Daily Deliberation: 10 August 2017

There was a young SSgt who worked in our training detachment. He wanted to be an officer more than anything to have a better life for his growing family and to have a larger impact on our service. Initially, his scores were too low and he had to raise them to get his shot. This young leader would come to work early to study, be in the books every chance he had, and continue to study at home. Also, he taught more than most instructors and appeared to be a damn good dad and father at home. He was driven. His hard work paid off and now this Lt has a larger platform to inspire others and I am certain he is striving to be the best in his new job. What is driving you?

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