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November Chief's Concerns

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Harold Nash, from the 169th Maintenance Squadron at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., June 13, 2014. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Edward Snyder/Released)

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Harold Nash, from the 169th Maintenance Squadron at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., June 13, 2014. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Edward Snyder/Released)

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. -- I want to take this opportunity to speak on management versus leadership, how we implement it, and how it can positively or negatively affect our personnel and mission accomplishment.  First, let's look at the standard definition of management most commonly used: "the art of coordinating the efforts of people and resources to accomplish goals and objectives, efficiently and effectively."  Next, let's take a 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." 

How do we implement it and how does it affect the overall mission effectiveness?  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."  Well this is how we allow it to happen, and yes I am also guilty of this at time. 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 causing them to refrain from ever wanting to take on additional responsibility to prove their worth and eliminating themselves from future leadership roles. 

As top level managers and leaders, we must take care and allow future leaders to evolve. Anyone who has a particular talent can be an effective leader only if he or she is given the chance.  The position of manager or management positon is not only providing the tangible resources to accomplish our mission, but doing our best to ensure all personnel have the opportunity to be successful, that includes minimizing any roadblocks in their path and recognizing them for great performance.  Conversely, the leader should be recognized as the person or persons who evolve and are on the frontline leading the group and as we know now this can be anyone.  By now I think 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 of this is the potential loss of future leaders; however, when implemented separately and personnel groomed appropriately these young leaders who evolve out of opportunities provided through solid management practices will ultimately be our managers of the future.

What I have stated above, I have been witness to as well on the many deployments over the years.  As I moved into the management position I came to realize as I looked back over the years just how many opportunities I had been given to evolve as a leader and how many times I have been recognized for those accomplishments, so this is a tried and true fact, management and leadership are entirely two different things and should never be implemented as one.

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, "Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership." -Colin Powell.

The last quote I believe to be unique to myself, "Never allow the fog of management to blur the vision of leadership." -Harold Tommy Nash.