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Leading in today’s military

  • Published
  • By Maj. David Mays
  • 90th Security Support Squadron
I have had several people, both military and civilians, ask me about how we continue to work in today's military with the current political environment. The answer I keep telling them is 'just do your part and control the things that you have control over.'

As our budgets seem to shrink, our mission stays the same. We must continue to work hard every day, no matter how much money we have in our current budget.

The best analogy I could use is this; imagine you were playing football and are part of the offense. Your team's defense keeps letting the other team score touchdowns. You, as part of the offense, must keep scoring touchdowns on every drive in order to stay in the game. You would be mad at the defense for allowing the other team to score so much, however, you have no control over the defense. You can cheer them on or you can encourage them to make better tackles, but ultimately you have no control over the defense and how many touchdowns they allow the other team to score. You must do your job in order to win the game.

Getting the mission done is one of the top priorities in the military. I think about how technology allows us to improve our processes and allows us to do more work with less effort. The problem is, technology costs a lot, and we do not have a lot to pay for new technology.

I often wonder how we would operate today without the technology that we have grown accustomed to. What if we didn't have the internet? Or what if we did not have telephones? How would we communicate? Would we have to send a runner? Without technology there would be a lot of assumptions on both ends that the mission about whether the mission was getting done or not.

To calm these assertions, I would recommend walking around your shops, or adopting a new form of management defined as management by walking around. Management by walking around is better defined as an impromptu move by getting up and, without prior arrangements, walking through work centers, talking to Airmen, finding out about their lives and, eventually, leading into their jobs and what improvements you can make.

Some people who have been performing their jobs for many years have great ideas on how to better improve work performance with minimal costs. Whether or not we have a big budget with the luxury of purchasing items, or a small budget that requires us to use minimal supplies, Airmen may have ideas that would make our jobs easier, and the only way to find out the ideas is to get out and walk around.

As Abraham Lincoln once said, "Whatever you are, be a good one."