Developing leaders ... the gift that keeps on giving

ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. -- If there's one thing I've learned in the two-plus decades I've been on this ride, it's an often overlooked phrase...

"Leadership matters."

While the debate rages on between the "leaders are born" and "leaders are made" camps, we can't lose sight of the fact that there are practical leadership skills we can learn in a wide variety of settings, and we need to keep a "lifetime of learning" focus on leadership development.

Though most of the responsibility for making this happen falls on the more senior leaders, everyone has a part to play in this critically important function.

Fortunately, a great deal of leadership development is available "DIY."

Leadership training has become one of the most widely covered topics in the local bookstore, so for even the most junior employee in an organization, it's never too soon to start.

Just reading about leadership goes a long way.

In fact, reading is a core component in nearly every leadership lesson I've come across. You just can't get enough on this topic.

One journalist commented that "the average millionaire reads at least one non-fiction book a month."

We have a lot to gain from adopting this mindset.

The next level is simply allocating the time to think about, discuss and explore leadership lessons.

This doesn't have to be a formal course. Just as we find value in our "lunch and learn" tech sessions, imparting a leadership focus on these events can have the same positive effect.

Again, the possibilities are nearly endless, ranging from something as simple as a "war story" to a full blown choreographed lesson.

But these don't happen by accident. This is a deliberate process.

That's where the real challenge lies.

We seem to take on training in so many areas where we ascribe the need for a "skill" yet somehow we forget that skills make up a big part of leadership effectiveness.

We are quick to send a technician to a class on programming...do we put the same emphasis on leadership training?

Why not?

If we really believe that "job one" is finding, mentoring, and developing our replacements, then we cannot overlook this aspect of their training needs.

If you are in a leadership position, take note. This responsibility falls on you.

It's up to you to make leadership development a deliberate process in your organization.

We're here to help. My Chief of Staff, Mr. Ken Jacobsen, is assembling some lessons we can all participate in.

We're also auditioning some local talent for possibilities tailored to our unique environment.

The military PME courses are another good source.

But none of these efforts will bear fruit unless all of us decide to make leadership development a fixture in our operations.

That's my challenge to you.

If we all pitch in, we can make a huge difference in every aspect of our operation.
Game on!