Words By Mike Weisbecker.
So I am perusing social media (Facebook) when I see a post from a friend I served with. He gets called in two hours early for a wing commander’s call before he gets a chance to grab lunch (he is a swing shift worker). Gets to the location only to be told that the wing commander will be late because he is still at lunch. You can guess the mood of my friend.
We’ve all had this happen to us in our military careers. Especially at medical and dental appointments. The respective hobby shops always preach that their time is important and that you need to arrive sometimes 20 minutes prior to your appointed time. Then you are still waiting, watching the Pentagon Channel (could I be waterboarded instead please?) 30 minutes after the time of your appointment (which explains my elevated blood pressure Doc). So what makes their time more important than yours?
The military always preaches we are all the same. So how come its ok for higher ups to waste our time but you waste their time and it’s the end of the world?
I understand that folks at the field grade level and above have commitments. Same with senior NCO’s. They are in this middle ground where the crap flows in both directions. You have a commitment to your charges but also to those above you as well. And you can’t be in three places at once. I know I’ve tried. But the folks waiting on you have commitments too. They have planes to launch and recover. Periodic maintenance that needs to get done. Pushups to do (hello Marines). Decks to chip and scrape. The same person making them wait for pearls of their wisdom will be the one irate when the other things are delayed.
I’ve walked out of staff meetings because the person running it took personal phone calls while we sat around waiting, wondering how many of our folks were waiting on us to help them work out a solution to their issues.
Folks in leadership positions need to remember from whence they came. Almost all of us came in at E-1 or O-1. We worked ourselves up from that. Try to think about how your lateness will be perceived by those you’re supposed to lead. Is it a one-time occurrence or is it a habit that you run behind schedule every day?
Yes there are situations that are overcome by events. But appearance and perception (I guess “optics” is the new buzz word but I need to fill white space here) means a lot. And the folks you are in charge of should be the first priority every chance you have. If they feel like you actually care, you’ll have folks who will bust their hump for you.
So Colonel wing commander person. The first words out of your mouth should be a heartfelt (as long as the heart didn’t get removed at Air War College) apology to your folks. Then maybe treat them all to pizza.