Leadership: Is there an app for that?

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Lee R. Barr
  • 8th Fighter Wing
The world is growing more and more dependent on technology.  Even our United States Air Force has become automated to improve programs, processes and quality of life for Airmen. We have Facebook, smartphones, BlackBerries, MyMC2(My Military Communities), Twitter, Facetime, Skype, webpages, Sharepoint, EMS (Evaluation Management System) and many more I could list.  You get the point; we are a connected society in the U.S. Air Force. There seems to be an app for anything you can imagine.  When I speak with Airmen today, they say "oh Chief, there's an app for that," or they show me something on their smartphone and say "I downloaded the app." 

We constantly hear "there's an app for that," which got me thinking what if there was an app for leadership.  A leadership app! 

In this new world of marvelous technology, wouldn't it be nice to have a leadership app? Just download the leadership app and voila, you have instant leadership. Years of experience gained instantaneously from our Air Force's greatest leaders--done. Why stop there?  Let's download apps for our social ills: a sexual assault app, suicide intervention app, underage drinking app and a responsible choices app. Wouldn't that be great to have leadership and solutions to everything that ails the Air Force at our fingertips?

Unfortunately, you and I know that's not how it works. Leadership is not easy!  You may have heard someone say "natural born leader" or seen it in a performance report. This has been debated for years and I don't think we'll solve that question here.  What I do know is this: leadership is the recipe to solve any issue in our great Air Force.  It takes energy and time to become a good leader; dare I say a great leader.  It requires leadership molecules and an investment on our part to become an effective leader.  As a leader, you have to care about people and be passionate about your calling as a leader.  I believe in order to become a great leader, you must choose to be a servant--to serve something larger than yourself.

The Professional Development Guide defines leadership as the art of influencing and directing people to accomplish the mission while Merriam-Webster defines leadership first as the position or office of a leader, and second, the capacity or ability to lead.  Although it would be great to have a leadership app, the simple truth is that we struggle with leadership particularly in our early stages of becoming a leader. 

We learn from our mistakes, praying we don't hurt an Airman or break something really expensive that places the mission at risk.  We must make sure our actions are legal, ethical and moral. We must learn from others, taking what works from those around us and throwing away what doesn't work or fit your personality.  Since Wolf and I arrived here at the Wolf Pack, we've had our community support coordinator administer "true colors" tests to Airmen.  It's a really great tool and uses a simple, but very effective method to help you learn what type of person you are by identifying strengths and weaknesses. By helping you understand yourself and others better, you learn to develop effective leadership. 

With that said, let me give you two thoughts concerning leadership and how to be a great leader. First, live by the golden rule--treat others as you want them to treat you.  Would you disrespect yourself?  Would you create a hostile work environment for yourself?  It's simple, but effective--the more complicated you make it, the more ineffective it becomes.  Second, is a quote I've used that was given to me from my former wing commander, Maj. Gen. Thomas Bussiere; "be the supervisor you always wanted."  In other words, be the supervisor you wish your supervisor had been to you.  Please don't misunderstand what I'm saying.  As leaders we hold people accountable, but holding a person accountable has nothing to do with not respecting them and creating a hostile work environment.  Leadership takes courage.  The Air Force requires leadership, especially as we go through various force management programs, force reduction and new evaluation systems.  It takes leadership to lead Airmen--our most valuable resource.  The Air Force needs leadership to successfully execute the mission and take care of our Airmen and our families.

Unfortunately, there's no app for leadership, however, you are the most educated and technologically savvy generation working in the greatest Air Force the world has ever known.  I'm counting on you to invest the time, energy and the leadership molecules it takes to be that great leader--we need you.  Thank you Wolf Pack for your leadership!

Defend the Base - Accept Follow-on Forces - Take the Fight North.