Leadership toolbox creates mission success

Col. Randy Kee
86th Operations Group commander

***image1***Something that I have repeatedly professed and tried to live out as a commander … is to develop my leadership team’s “tool box.” The tools are simply learning, planning, coordinating, motivating and acting.

Learning – understanding the task to be defined, and getting your “commanders’ intent.” Seek to get a clear vision of what your commander, or supervisor, is trying to achieve; then start to plan in order to achieve that vision.

Planning – establishing the road map of what you are trying to accomplish and taking the time to plan is critical. Initiative is pivotal for effectiveness, as well as encouraging your team to think “outside of the box.” Setting established planning horizons matters both at the personal and professional vantage. I am a big believer that folks don’t plan to fail, they simply fail to plan.

Professionally, I look at 90 days as the basic planning construct at the group and squadron level.

Attention to detail matters both in planning and communication. You, the leader, need to always take time to work the plan to a zero-defect standard, without forgetting that timeliness is equally important. You might need to take a “work in progress” approach – or a spiral development philosophy; as long as the plan and effort gets measurably refined in time to a zero defect standard.

Coordinating and communicating – giving people a clear vision of what is expected and how you want them to contribute to that effort. Even the best plans must be coordinated with supporting organizations and people. It is vital to ensure that planning efforts are not wasted on a path or course of action that was not intended by the boss.

Motivating and acting – all the great planning and coordinating in the world is of no use if a course of action is never decided upon. We make the biggest difference when we work to “close the deal.”
Leaders at all levels need to understand and link actions at higher levels to the folks they lead. We are a nation at war and we are engaged with an adversary who is very capable, very determined and very adept at motivating their people to fight.

Motivation can be enhanced when folks believe the leader has balance for mission and care for the troops. There must be balance where the leader ensures that folks are getting leave, opportunities for education, professional military education, career development courses, etc.

In short, if the leader’s command philosophy is to take care of the folks who take care of the mission, while ensuring that praise and recognition flow appropriately, your leadership and command climate for success is set. Leaders who are willing to pitch-in to help in getting the job done can provide the inspiration that words cannot communicate.

Fighting and winning the Global War on Terror is going to take every possible tool in our collective leadership toolboxes, along with industrial strength determination and work ethic.