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Showing posts from March, 2018

When you meet a good leader, you know it. Part I

I've dealt with my fair share of toxic leaders in the military (ref: when a leader is a shit leader), but I've also experienced some exceptional leaders. This blog isn't all about what went wrong, but also what went very right in my career.

The theme of last week's article was placing the mission first at all cost, regardless of the human cost. A good leader understands that by taking care of your people, and investing in them, you will likely exceed your organizations goals. However, that is much easier said than done.

The problem, at least as far as military leaders, is that leaders are often rewarded on worker productivity rather than worker happiness. We have daily meetings reviewing a myriad of metrics, indicators and analysis to evaluate our production. Besides informal discussions, how often do leaders answer for worker happiness?

Every couple of years the Air Force releases a Climate Assessment Survey for unit members to answer tailored questions in various so…

When a leader is a shit leader

In January of 2016 I was the Specialist Section Chief in the 311th AMU at Holloman Air Force Base. On this particular morning I was at the morning meeting and our production prospects that day looked grim. There were several broken fliers and it looked like we might be dropping some lines.
However, as a Section Chief I had many other issues that required my attention and the production effort just wasn’t my wheel house.
I was in a unique position. Previously, I was a Production Superintendent but became disenfranchised with the production environment and requested to move back to being a section chief.Remarkably, my AMU Chief listened to my concerns and granted my request. However every so often I would be asked to fill in as a Pro Super and my opinion was still sought when it came to production theory and experience.
So on this day I spent my time working on manning, leave, discipline and mentoring; pretty typical Section Chief stuff. The day went by relatively quickly and before I …

I was once accused of cheating because I was an asshole Part III (The conclusion)

So I traveled the 13 hours from Colorado Springs back to Phoenix. While I was driving I thought of my class mates that were preparing for graduation. I thought of Allen and how he would not be graduating. I was angry that my actions had hurt someone else's career.

As I drove I formed the argument for my appeal in my head. Numerous times I would pull off the road to write down a detail, something that supported my defense. If it was really profound I would text or call Allen to give him the same information. After all, if I could make things right for him, I would feel much better. Even if my own release stood, I felt compelled to do what I could to help him.

Prior to NCO Academy it was agreed that I would move from maintenance training back out to the flight line upon my graduation. But I was in limbo. I hadn't quite graduated, but because of my pending appeal I hadn't quite 'not' graduated [Schrodinger's PME as it were].

Luckily I had an amazing section chief…

I was once accused of cheating because I was an asshole Part II

So over the weekend I told my wife and my brother about the exercise. My brother found it exceptionally amusing that the military believes it can teach leadership. You see, my brother believes leadership is a trait or characteristic. It’s compassion, empathy, or altruism. How do you teach these concepts? It’s more accurate to say that PME teaches management or at best the appearance of leadership; the appearance of concern for your people.
The following Monday my regular instructor, TSgt Badger, had returned to the classroom. The Airman that videoed the exercise had brought in a digital copy on his netbook and a DVD copy for me. As TSgt Badger was preparing the classroom (cleaning the board, etc.) the Airman, we’ll call him Allen, turned the netbook towards him and asked TSgt Badger if he would like to see the exercise from Friday.
TSgt Badger turned, looked at the video queued up on the screen, and replied in the negative stating he “had heard all about the exercise on Friday.”
At the…

I was once accused of cheating because I was an asshole Part I

In late 2009 I was selected to attend the Non-Commissioned Officer Academy at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. The class started on the 3rd of January 2010, with a graduation date of the 18th of February; which coincidentally was my enlistment anniversary.
Anyway, I've never had a hard time with academics, especially not the watered down 'academics'  of Professional Military Education or PME for short. In this story, I had completed more than half of the 6 week course and I was well positioned by my scores to put forth even less than the paltry effort I had already dispensed.
The morning of the 5th of February 2010, we were going to begin our group interpersonal exercises. These exercises were based on a package we each received detailing a scenario. The scenario was different for everyone and required the member to intervene to mediate some workplace interaction. This scenario was considered "formative" or practice. It was a chance for the students to take a …