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Some Random Thoughts on Leadership

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When I was a brand new Air Force maintenance officer, my unit’s superintendent informed me that it was time for our annual breakfast. Each year the unit’s senior leaders cooked breakfast for the troops and he invited me to join in the cooking. It was a fun morning and I think everyone appreciated the effort. It wasn’t that they wouldn’t eat that day if we hadn’t done this. It was just a little something extra to show our appreciation for their hard work. What something extra have you done for your team? Note: never cook bacon in a small room with curtains.

Much of my leadership experience has been with teams that operate 24/7 but I usually had to be on a day shift because of required meetings. I learned to adjust my schedule to arrive early enough in the morning to see the night shift before they went home and to stay late enough to see the afternoon shift when they arrived. That way, even though I couldn’t get to know everyone in a large organization, they at least knew who I was. Are you visible to your entire team or are you some mysterious entity they’ve only heard of?

Several times I’ve been responsible for multiple industrial shops. They were usually some distance apart and it was easy to find excuses not to visit. To fix this I would schedule regular time to visit one of those shops. But, I wouldn’t just visit. I would instruct the shop supervisor to assign me to one of the teams. Whatever that team was doing, I worked with them. It’s interesting that, even when you’re the boss, people will be more open when you’re getting your hands dirty with them. Those times taught me more about what was really going on in the organization than any meetings ever did.

As another year draws to a close, it’s customary to review the last year and make plans for the next. That’s convenient, sure, but if you aren’t reviewing your mission, goals, and objectives on a regular schedule, it won’t do you any good to look at them now. Same goes for those New Year’s resolutions. Most fitness centers will tell you they sell year-long memberships because if they only sold monthly memberships they’d be broke by May, since very few people ever keep their resolutions. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t set goals and objectives. Just don’t wait until January.

May you enjoy Happy Holidays, a Merry Christmas, and a wildly successful New Year.

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