Deliberate Development

Professional Development for the Military Leader

Daily Deliberation: 21 March 2018

We all face those moments in our lives and in our careers where we learn something we didn’t know about ourselves. Sometimes it is good, but most of the time it is something that annoys others. It takes those courageous folks to tell us and as we gain more rank or position even fewer are willing to share their thoughts. Surround yourself with those who are willing to share their unfiltered thoughts and listen. What they are telling you holds the key to getting to the next level.


Daily Deliberation: 20 March 2018

I think this is a very interesting notion. Although, we have very little control over what base or unit we are a part of, we do have complete control over ourselves. Often times, the problem isn’t our unit; rather, how we view and respond to what happens to us. Look within yourself first to see if there is anything you can change and then work on one person at a time. Eventually, you will either change the culture or will have moved on to better things.

Are We Wet Blanketing NCOs?

There is a lot of talk about NCOs leaving the service at a higher rate than usual lately. We have those shy of the 10 year mark who are not willing reenlist. This is not a new issue, but leadership is finally asking “why?” It is not too late to ask this question and definitely not too late to fix the problem. I am not bold enough to say I could eradicate this issue, but I will attempt to define it and share some of my successes over the years so you can come to your own conclusion.

First of all, I truly love the current senior leadership of the Air Force. This is the best I have ever seen it in the past 20 years and they are setting a very positive example. This permeates to the lower levels and sparks these questions that leaders are asking. The momentum they are creating will carry on for a long time (This is the opinion of someone retiring in 95 days…I am not looking for brownie points). I have seen many senior leaders on base shift their mindsets because of this. When leaders are not worried about protecting their careers, they can focus on solving problems for their people. We are moving towards this now.

So why is there this exodus of NCOs and why is all of the experience leaving? I have my own opinions based on what I see and the conversations I have had with my team. I have seen a handful of amazing NCOs leave my own team over the past 3 years to pursue other careers. From what I have seen, those who make the decision to leave early are typically those who we really would benefit from having in the service. For example, 3 out of the 6 are in school to be engineers, 1 has his own business, 1 is now a published author and the other is making about $100K a month. Can you imagine the impact these NCOs could have for the Air Force? The reason they got out was because there were no ways they could find to flex their potential.

One of these six told me that our unit is managed well, but it has no vision. This was also systemic for the Air Force as a whole. What he meant was that he could not discover where he fit into the vision. That is our job as SNCOs to ensure our team knows they are valued and encourage them to use their skills. I know I experienced those moments as an Airman and young NCO where I had a great idea, but was told “your job is to work, not think.” This doesn’t work on someone these days who has grown a social media platform or has some other side hustle where they can make a difference and go all in on something they can find meaning in.

Again, I said I was not going to offer any solutions for you. This is something you need to reflect on with your own team. However, here are a few questions you can ask your team:

What are the opportunities we should be taking advantage of?

What problems can you solve?

What could we be doing differently?

When applied to a specific area, these questions start a great conversation. For example, what are some opportunities we are overlooking in our safety program?

Our teams are filled with potential and leaders who have endless capacity, we just need to steer them and teach them how they fit. Then. Let them do great things.

Daily Deliberation: 18 March 2018

This is a very powerful notion for NCOs and SNCOs. We spend more of our time focussed on ensuring our teams are doing the right things. If we spent more time developing our teams, they would be better equipped to take care of the mission. Develop your team and let them do the rest.

Daily Deliberation: 17 March 2018

Thank you all for supporting what we do! Have a safe and happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Daily Deliberation: 16 March 2018

In our current EPR system where people feel as if they are competing for stripes, this is a fear I have. I would hate to see people taking short cuts and sacrificing their personal integrity to get a few steps ahead of their peers. I saw it happen in the aircraft maintenance world when the demands far exceeded the capabilities. People took short cuts to try and get ahead. This worked for awhile until there was a death on the line. I am not afraid of someone actually dying from careerist short cuts, but I do think our culture would quickly erode if we start taking short cuts.

Daily Deliberation: 15 March 2018

There is so much truth to this. Every time I have been on a team without an absent leader, confusion and underperformance were very obvious issues. I feel my number one role in my current position is to manage communication and protect the culture. I find if I do these two things, confusion and underperformance do not get a foothold. I am actually ok with friction, because friction forces us out of our comfort zones.

Daily Deliberation: 14 March 2018

Growing up, I never had the name-brand stuff that the other kids had. What I did have were parents that taught me to improvise. I couldn’t throw money at a problem and had to use what I had. I think all of us can try this a bit more at work. We complain about not having enough people or other resources, but when we really knuckle-down, we see have enough to make it work. Take the time to look for the solutions no one else sees…it will set you apart from the others.

Daily Deliberation: 13 March 2018

We have all worked with those people who have been on the job for 20 years but seem to know nothing. Then there are those 20-year-olds that seem to be experts. It is not how long you have been doing something or how old you are that makes you great; it is what you have done in those years that make you great. Go do something great for another today!

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