December Chief's Perspective

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Ed McQueen
  • South Carolina Joint Force Headquarters

What books have you read lately? Share some insights gleaned. I love asking this in an interview. And I’m really not looking for any particular type of reading. Could be related to leadership development, marvelous feats of physical strength and endurance, cooking technique, motorcycle maintenance for beginners, or a novel by Rowling or Clancy. I’m primarily looking to see if there is an interest or discipline to continue learning. Even fiction provides opportunity to expand your mind and grow.

Great leaders are great readers. And the truth is we all have influence, we all lead someone. I have ownership in electing to grow that influence. You have ownership in increasing your influence. Certainly there is rank influence. But I submit that is not the most effective influence and will not garner the most loyal followers. The most effective leader with the most loyal followers will be the Airman most trusted. Trust. In any organization trust is often the unspoken foundation upon which someone will take a step toward you. See, it does not matter your position, rank or title – people will follow someone they trust. The unfortunate truth about trust is it is built over time and destroyed in a flash.

Chasing Excellence, A Story About Building the World’s Fittest Athlete is a book written by Ben Bergeron. CrossFit is the platform on which the story is told. But we can apply the principles shared in any walk of life. Bergeron shares his belief that “greatness is not for the elite few; that winning is a result, not a goal; and that character, not talent, is what makes a true champion.” Is one of your dominate character traits trust? Are you known for being trustworthy?

The Art of Resilience, Strategies for an Unbreakable Mind and Body was written by Ross Edgley. Edgley swam 1,780 miles around Great Britain in 157 days spending 18-20 hours a day in the water. He had to do the physical, mental, and emotional preparation for this journey and he had to trust the captain of the boat to tell him to come in and timing the tides. He also had to trust the cook to prepare the right kind of 30,000 calories a day for him day after day to provide needed sustenance for this epic swim.

Contented Cows, Give Better Milk is a book by Bill Catlette and Richard Hadden. They write that employees in high performing organizations have requirements for “meaningful work, high standards, clear purpose and direction…, a level playing field, being and feeling competent.” Can your Airmen trust you to provide these requirements?

Do Airmen trust you? Does your family trust you? Does your employer trust you?

How about this one - do you trust your Airmen?

One final though related to trust. Fill in gaps (what you don’t know) with trust. For example, an Airman who arrives three hours late for drill and tells you he fell down a flight of stairs leaving his apartment. You can ask if it took him three hours to fall down 12 stairs or you can trust that it took a little time to recover and come in. If you later discover his apartment is on the first floor, well that is for a future article.

As relates to reading if I may - you can read for education and information, but the best reading is for transformation. This article will not do it, but grab a copy of one of the books referenced above and challenge yourself to change and improve in some area. The return on investment will be worth far more than the $24.99. Trust me.