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Commentary Search

April Chief's Perspective

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Harold Nash
  • 169th Maintenance Group

I want to take this opportunity to speak on management versus leadership; how to implement each and how they can affect our personnel and mission accomplishment. First, let's look at the standard definition of management: "the art of coordinating the efforts of people and resources to accomplish goals and objectives, efficiently and effectively." Next, let's look at the most commonly used definition of leadership: "the act or art of inspiring others to engage in the performance of goals and objectives."


There are times it seems we blur the lines of management versus leadership. You are probably wondering how we do that or you may be thinking, "I never do that." This is how we allow it to happen, and yes I am also guilty of this at times. While most of us in management positions strive to ensure we provide all necessary resources to accomplish predefined specific goals and objectives, we also like to specifically choose the leader on most of these tasks. In doing this we are possibly taking away an opportunity for someone with future leadership capabilities to step up and lead a particular mission. We, in turn, negatively affect most individuals by causing them to refrain from taking on additional responsibilities and eliminate themselves from future leadership roles.


As top-level managers and leaders, we must take care and allow future leaders to evolve. Anyone with a particular talent, given the chance, can be an effective leader. Managers should not only provide the tangible resources to accomplish our mission, but do our best to ensure all personnel have the opportunity to be successful. That includes minimizing any roadblocks for our Airmen and recognizing them for great performance. Recognize those who evolve and are on the front-line leading the group. As we know, this can be anyone. By now most should understand or agree, managers and leaders play two completely and distinctively different roles. While both are of the utmost importance for any organization, it is very important to note, when used as an interchangeable term the most likely result is the potential loss of future leaders. When implemented separately with appropriately prepared personnel, these young leaders, who evolved out of opportunities provided through solid management practices, will ultimately be our managers of the future.


Invest in quality leadership. Don’t be a rent-a-leader. Don’t lead when you feel like it. Lead every day, all day. Manage every day, all day. This is what creates our future leaders. A good opportunity to ensure all functional areas understand their leadership and management responsibilities is during our current preparations for Full Spectrum Readiness combined with the Aerospace Expeditionary Force preparation and our participation in Green Flag.


What I have stated above, I have been witness to on many deployments over the years. As I moved into the management position and looked back over my 31 years of service, I came to realize how many opportunities I had to evolve as a leader and receive recognition for those accomplishments. So this is a tried and true fact, never implement management and leadership as one, they are two different things. In today’s environment, providing strong leadership and management and understanding the difference is more important for our future than it ever has been. So apply sound principles to both.


In closing I would like to leave you with a couple of quotes, one from a person I admire a great deal and who has accomplished more than most of us ever will, “The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He or she is the one that gets the people to the greatest things,” -President Ronald Reagan.


“Don’t overburden your resources, know your limits and capabilities, never commit resources without knowing your resources, and effectively task, manage and lead those resources,” -Harold “Tommy” Nash.


The last quote I believe to be extremely compelling is, "If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, YOU ARE A LEADER," -John Quincy Adams.