Leadership Thoughts

First, I'm not claiming to be a leader. Yes, being in positions to lead makes you the leader by default, but being a leader by action is much different than by position. My take is being a leader is a never-ending journey. People immediately know if you are a leader or just the boss. Others can decide if I was a leader or if I just filled a position. I imagine Abe Lincoln didn't call himself a leader, he just knew what had to happen.

Musket Quirks (no specific order, only the first and last)
  • It starts with hello -->  we are not machines, start with hello
  • Don't just write me, invite me --> use appointments vice plain emails when appropriate
  • Meet sandwich --> 1) set expectations 2) make it meaningful 3) end with direction
  • Paying forward --> put your best foot forward as a Sponsor. Put yourself in their shoes.
  • Pictures and carpet --> They’ll always be there, don't look at them when passing someone
  • Rocks and dirt --> same as pictures and carpet but perfect for when deployed
  • PPT colors --> just because you can read it, doesn’t mean the audience can
  • Stress ball guidance --> don’t give it and try not to take it
  • The detachment --> think link!  I don't need all the products in emails
  • The high five --> make it happen...people are counting on you! (transfer of ownership)
  • The recurring dream --> these aren't a surprise so be ready and use the High Five if needed
  • It ends with goodbye --> you never know when you'll see someone again

My Charge (needs tweaking in a Joint environment)

  1. Be an Airman
  2. Make things better
  3. Connect with people
Each of these have many subtopics for discussion. "ABC" can help you remember; Airman, Better, Connect. This was the memo I used to convey my intent and philosophy:


A Collection of Tidbits (from abroad)
  • Always think two levels up and two levels down 
  • Civilian rank is simply tied to a position, NOT performance, longevity, etc. 
  • Communicate, don't commiserate 
  • Discipline versus consequences 
  • Don't walk past a problem 
  • Get people to want to do it 
  • If you're going to get angry, have an exit plan 
  • LAW: JAGs advise, commanders decide 
  • Leaders can't decide which polices / programs they like 
  • Leaders live in a glass bowl - you simply have to live straight and true. Integrity, Service, Excellence! 
  • Let people do their job 
  • Make actions match facts, not your feelings 
  • Make it easy for the boss to say yes (present a well-planned solution for a problem) 
  • Nothing worse in a leader than 1) lack of sincerity and 2) hypocrisy; both of which are manifestations of a lack of integrity 
  • People love to know they matter 
  • Pride of ownership - powerful and lets people know they matter 
  • Remember, there's a reason we have deputies and vices - use them 
  • The Triad (CC, Shirt and Chief) must be on a unified front 
  • Trust - a dividend or a tax 
  • You can never go wrong donating more time to people. 
  • You can pretend to care, but you can't pretend to be there. 
  • Every minute devoted to putting the right person in the right position is worth weeks of time later.

Big 11 Behaviors Delineating "Trusted" from "Toxic" Leaders

  1. Let subordinates know what is expected of them
  2. Supervises without micromanaging
  3. Gathers appropriate input before making decisions
  4. Remains calm and productive under pressure
  5. Coaches subordinates and provides useful feedback
  6. Can make tough decisions when necessary
  7. Sets high standards without a "zero-defect" climate
  8. Shares risk, danger and hardships
  9. Backs up subordinates, takes "heat" if needed
  10. Respects other people's time
  11. Would never sacrifice subordinates for own career


Chain - Perspective - Environment (musket)

  1. Chain of Command:  Use it and enforce it
  2. Perspective matters:  If you have a question (about anything) get it answered!
  3. Environment:  Be engaged in fostering and developing an open-dialog environment


Clarity - Quality - Timeliness (musket)

  1. If passing a task, make it clear. If receiving a task, remove doubt by asking questions.
  2. If the task is yours or you're leading the team, make a quality product - the first time!
  3. Make the deadline! If nothing else motivates you, it will keep people off your back.


Criticize!  Condemn!  Complain! (musket)

  1. ometimes called the Three Neutralizers, these almost instantly degrade positive attitudes and motivation. It can be so easy to do and even easier in a group.
  2. To be all we can become, we have to do our best to squash it as soon as it starts. There will be times a silver lining seems impossible to find, but we have to look for it! Always!
  3. Be positive and set a great example, it is powerful!

Dealing with Conflict / Conflict Resolution

  1. Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Resolution Model
    1. There are two versions - one with assertion vs. cooperation and one with issue vs. relationship
    2. Both have avoidance in the low corner and collaboration in the high corner
    3. Avoidance produces destructive outcomes
      1. Damaged relationships, wounded egos, wasted time, more conflict, wasted money, giving up
    4. Collaboration produces constructive outcomes
      1. Shared responsibility, better solution, greater confidence, closer relationships, benefit for the org

Decision Making - Tools for Leadership - Link

Emotional Intelligence - Components

  1. Self-Awareness - recognizing and understanding moods, emotions, drives, and their effect on others
  2. Self-Regulation - controlling or redirecting disruptive impulses/moods; holding judgment to think before acting
  3. Motivation - working for reasons beyond money/status; pursue goals with energy and persistence
  4. Empathy - understanding emotional moods of others; treating people according to their emotional reactions
  5. Social Skill - proficiency in managing relationships & building networks; finding common ground/building rapport
  6. IS NOT
    1. Nice all the time - it's about being honest
    2. Touchy-Feely - it's about being aware of feelings; yours and others
    3. Emotional - it's about being smart with your emotions and knowing how to control them

Emotional Intelligence - Working Definition

  1. EI is perceiving, understanding, and managing emotions personally AND in interactions with others

Emotional Intelligence - Consequences

  1. Absence of emotional intelligence was related to career derailment in:
    1. Problems with interpersonal relationships
    2. Difficulty changing or adapting

Empowerment or Decentralization - requires trust which is earned by...

  1. Making sound, timely decisions
  2. Putting mission before self
  3. Sharing hardships and risks
  4. Exemplifying high standards of behavior
  5. Telling the truth
  6. Keeping promises and secrets
  7. Treating people fairly
  8. Being predictable

Everyone Communicates - Few Connect (from John Maxwell)

  1. The Five Connecting Principles:
    1. Connecting increases your influence in every situation
    2. Connecting is all about others
    3. Connecting goes beyond words
    4. Connecting always requires energy
    5. Connecting is more skill than natural talent
  2. The Five Connecting Practices: Connectors...
    1. Connect on common ground
    2. Do the difficult work of keeping it simple
    3. Create an experience everyone enjoys
    4. Inspire people
    5. Live what they communicate
  3. You know you've connected when...
    1. Extra Effort – people go the extra mile
    2. Unsolicited Appreciation – they say positive things
    3. Unguarded Openness – they demonstrate trust
    4. Increased Communication – they express themselves more readily
    5. Enjoyable Experiences – they feel good about what they’re doing
    6. Emotional Bondedness – they display a connection on an emotional level
    7. Positive Energy – their emotional “batteries” are charged by being together
    8. Growing Synergy – their effectiveness is greater than the sum of the contributions
    9. Unconditional Love – they are accepting without reservation

Five characteristics of people who excel:

  1. Work with enthusiasm. Regardless of the size of a job - give it your best. Great performers give their best effort no matter what.
  2. Sharpen your skills.  Never stop developing, growing, learning and improving.  If you don't sharpen a dull ax, you'll just work harder and harder to get less out of it.  It takes more than desire to excel, it takes skill.  You're never wasting time when you're sharpening your "ax".
  3. Keep your word.  Be reliable.  Make it so people know they can count on you to do what you say you'll do. 
  4. Maintain a positive attitude.  Even under pressure, change, or unrealistic demands, don't allow yourself to become negative.  Do everything without complaining [see Criticize! Condemn! Complain!]
  5. Do more than is expected.  This is the secret discovered by anyone who's tasted success.  You'll pass, but you'll never excel by only doing what is required and/or the minimum.

Gene Kranz (Flight Director of Mission Control during Gemini and Apollo)

  1. His life mission:
    1. Discipline, morale, toughness and competence
  2. Things that guided him at NASA and beyond:
    1. Confidence in yourself and your peers
    2. Presence under pressure
      1. After Apollo 13 exploded, in the midst of total confusion, he said "Okay now, let's everybody keep cool. Let's solve the problem, but let's not make it any worse by guessing".
      2. Always be in control of yourself and remain in the moment.
    3. Continual Ambition
    4. Personal Style
    5. The Kranz Dictum - owning failure, tough and competent (full Dictum here)
  3. Read about him at Wiki and a good article at "The Art of Manliness" and FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION

Johari Window

  1. Comprised of four panes
    1. Open (also Arena), Blind Spot, Hidden (also Facade) and Unknown
  2. Open/Arena: things we both know. People are able to share info openly
  3. Blind Spot: things we do not know about ourselves but are (or may be) known by others. Also, people are generally unaware of the impact they have on others.
  4. Hidden/Facade: things we will not/cannot share.  People do not share or conceal information.
  5. Unknown: things neither people know. People aren't aware they have info which may be helpful to the team effort
  6. Summary:
    1. A change in one quadrant affects all others
    2. It takes energy to hide, deny, or be blind to behavior
    3. Increasing the Open/Arena pane increases the energy, skills and resources to apply to the task
    4. Mutual trust tends to increase awareness

Leadership 9-Line (Col Molly)

  1. People
  2. Example, set it
  3. Genuine, be it
  4. Macro manage
  5. Mentor
  6. Accountability
  7. Challenge
  8. Communicate
  9. Fun

Learning to Learn

  1. How you can derail
    1. Over-relying on strengths or previously successful strategies
    2. Ignoring or being blind to a notable flaw
    3. Have untested areas (challenges avoided or never faced)
    4. Having a narrow or single-minded leadership perspective
  2. How organizations hinder/derail people
    1. Defining development as training and job rotation
    2. Moving people through jobs too quickly
    3. Developing people in a stovepipe (small vertical movement in one area)
    4. Allowing failure to knock people off track
    5. Allowing strengths to turn into liabilities
    6. Giving  "what you did" feedback vice "how you did it"
  3. Learning Types
    1. TYPE 1 - Find meaning
    2. TYPE 2 - Find order
    3. TYPE 3 - Experimenting
    4. TYPE 4 - Creating

Motivation and Leadership

  1. Genuine interest in people
  2. Smile
  3. Respect other's opinions - avoid "you're wrong"
  4. Praise and honest appreciation
  5. Call attention to people's mistakes indirectly

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (mbti) - very useful tool if you have the chance to let people take it.

NSPS (National Security Personnel System)

  1. How to write SMART job objectives

SOS after-action (other)

  1. How we deal with adversity says a lot about our character
    1. Our environment may affect us negatively, we can't control this
    2. We can only control physically/emotionally respond
    3. How we respond (i.e. complaining/despairing vs. coping/solving) determines whether we survive or overcome adversity
    4. We are responsible for how we/our team respond to adversity
  2. As a leader, trust is every thing
    1. As leaders, the hardest job may be motivate people to do right thing at the right time
    2. We won't always be able to explain why something needs to be done (time, security, etc)
    3. When faced with ambiguity/danger, the UCMJ isn't always enough to get folks to do duty
    4. The only way to get people to put their personal safety on the line when faced with ambiguity is through trust
  3. Value the contribution of every team member
    1. Not everyone is created equal; at times, some will contribute more due to talent/skill/motivation
    2. That said, there is simply too much work to use the few superstars while others remain idle
    3. Leads must develop & challenge everyone to accomplish the mission

Teams and Products

  1. Divers Teams - longer/slower results, but better products
  2. Similar Teams - faster products, but lower quality and/or more mistakes


  1. Transform = Change / Change = Unknown / Unknown = Fear / Fear = Avoid

Where People / Followers Fall:

  1. HI Potential / LO Performance = Learners (40%)
  2. HI Potential / HI Performance = Stars (10%)
  3. LO Potential / HI Performance = Solid Citizens (40%)
  4. LO Potential / LO Performance = Deadwood (10%)

To Do

  1. AFPC, search "special trophies" and "recognition" to find ways to recognize your superstars
  2. The Little Brown Book (AFI 36-2618)


To ask Slider

  1. Unit Climate Survey?

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