What kind of leadership diet are you on
By Chaplain Charles Montoya, 14th Flying Training Wing Chapel
/ Published April 30, 2007
COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
During my 24 years of service, I have seen many different leadership styles. Often, I have wondered if some choose their leadership style from a "fast-food" menu. They pick and choose 'off the menu' and apply it to their organization. They feast on a diet of total quality management, management by objectives or a 'one-minute manager' philosophy.
I believe there are three qualities leaders should have: patience, vision and communication skills.
Patience is one of the key attributes leaders should have. Many impatient leaders have caused much consternation in their organizations. Their impatience can lead to the micromanagement of the organization.
One of my best leadership lessons on patience came from Master Sgt. Charles McIntosh. Sergeant 'Mac' was my Flight Chief when I was a Security Specialist. If you approached him with a problem, he would tilt his head to the right, place his arms to his side and allow his hands to fall open, palms up. He would then say, "So, what do you want me to do about it?" This leadership style was one of the most frustrating styles I had ever seen, until I understood it.
He was not one to 'spoon feed' us. He had the patience to allow us to think it through and draw our own conclusions/solutions. If we were still stumped, he would walk us through the problem solving process. His patience was something I have not forgotten.
Leaders also need to have the ability to espouse their vision. All organizations need vision. Without any vision, the personnel do not know where they are headed nor do they have any direction. All Blaze members should know our mission: Building the world's best warriors, leaders and professional military pilots. This is why we exist. If we simply say we are just a pilot training base, we miss the whole reason why we exist. Building professional military pilots is apart of what we do, but it is just one aspect.
Leaders need to have the ability to create a vision for their organization. I like to use the phrase created by James Collins and Jerry Porras, BHAG. BHAG stands for "Big Hairy Audacious Goal." A BHAG is a clearly defined vision for an organization and is measurable in terms of meeting clearly defined goals. The BHAG should also have an established finish line. Normally, a BHAG is a 10 to 30 year goal. I believe we can tailor it to the military profession in terms of five to 10 years.
When people understand the organization's vision and can measure their success in achieving the goal, they will receive a sense of mission accomplishment. Their buy-in to the organization comes much easier and the health of the organization becomes good.
The last quality a leader should have is communication skills. A leader must be able to communicate their goals, vision and mission to their personnel. If they are not able to clearly articulate these, their personnel can become disillusioned and dishearten.
I have had some very intelligent supervisors in my career. However, some could not communicate their vision or goals in such a manor that all of us understood it. Their vocabulary consisted of five dollar words that my dollar mind could not understand. Now that I have the ability to use five dollar words, I have always been aware that a vision must be clearly communicated to all personnel. It cannot be a dissertation only understood by PhDs, but a tangible statement understood by all personnel.
Leadership is not like a fast food menu. It should have patience, vision and communication skills. Through such qualities, we are able to educate, innovate and instruct" and contribute to building the world's best warriors, leaders and professional military pilots.