All posts by thight

Step up to address toxic leadership

By Chief Master Sgt. Grengs
52nd Fighter Wing Command Chief

Whether we like to admit it or not, toxic leaders exist in our Air Force, from front line supervisors to commanding officers.

Every Airman must recognize and confront toxic leadership because it undermines good order and discipline, corrupts the force from the inside out and is counter to a healthy organizational climate.

What does toxic leadership look like?

There’s a wide spectrum of toxic leadership. Some people are clearly toxic leaders, while others walk the line between directive and toxic.

On one side, there’s the over-the-top, narcissistic, power-hungry leader who threatens, controls and can never admit his or her faults. On the other, there’s the frontline supervisor who simply doesn’t create an environment where Airmen want to contribute to the mission, and they are not encouraged to reach their fullest potential.

Some people are overly directive, aggressive or obsessive compulsive making them susceptible to exhibiting toxic leadership behaviors when in a position of power.

Unfortunately, these leaders act and make decisions to benefit themselves, not their people. Toxic leaders can be disrespectful to those they lead; they create a negative environment of manipulation and fear.

To an outsider, that particular work center ruled by a toxic leader may look effective, simply because tasks are completed and deadlines are met. But in the end, such leadership rots away the purpose and motivation of our great force and that damages mission success. More importantly, it damages people.

People don’t complete tasks because they are empowered under toxic leaders … they complete tasks because it is what they are told to do, and they fear being ostracized and or retaliated against.

Yet most of the time, toxic leaders don’t even know they are the problem; in their eyes, their behavior is perfectly acceptable.

What do you do if you are working for a toxic leader?

Unfortunately, there’s really no clear answer because every situation is different. There are a couple options: confront the toxic leader directly, seek guidance and/or support from the chain-of-command, document the situation during a Unit Climate Assessment, discuss it during an Airman-to-Inspector General interview, or address the problem with the Military Equal Opportunity office.

I’ll be honest, working for a toxic leader can be hard considering the power and authority they have over you. Confronting the toxic leader directly about his or her behaviors or reporting the problem can be downright paralyzing – it requires courage. Given this, many simply choose to endure the toxic environment rather than step up to address it.

But if we don’t step up and confront toxic leadership, the environment and organizational climate will not change for the better and potentially more Airmen will suffer. Coming forward may inspire others to step up and speak out too. Change often begins with the courage of one Airman. I have seen many cases in which the toxic leader is removed from a position of power and influence.

How can you make change in an organization?

This is where mentorship at every level comes in: we CAN eliminate toxic leadership within our organizations by taking the opportunity to step up and help create a healthy working environment.

Although stepping in and taking a stand may require people to break out of their comfort zone; we can’t tolerate, condone or ignore problematic behavior. We CAN create an environment of accountability, dignity and respect that rejects leading by fear and manipulation.

Ridding the Air Force of toxic leadership contributes to a simple but vital goal: reaching an ideal state where people are treated fairly and valued for who they are regardless of what’s on their collars or sleeves.

At this point, where ever we are in our careers, we need to look in the mirror and evaluate ourselves honestly: could we be toxic?

We must promote an organizational culture where individuals can thrive, feel respected for who they are and are valued for their contributions to the mission. This is vital to winning the fight, strengthening the team, and shaping the future as Airmen in the world’s greatest Air Force.

In the end, if you treat people with dignity and respect, you can inspire and motivate people to go above and beyond the mission. And that’s real leadership.

20 photos that will make you fall in love with the Air Force

By 1st Lt Tori Hight
Air Force Public Affairs Agency

It’s no secret that the men and women of the Air Force are passionate about their service — and why shouldn’t they be? The Air Force is amaaa-zing. With facinating missions, sleek aircraft and technology and super talented Airmen, it’s pretty hard to find something you truly hate about the Air Force. Whether or not you’ve enjoyed your time as an Airman, you’ll appreciate the photos we’ve (the Air Force Social Media Team) compiled for you here. They’ll make you fall in love with the Air Force all over again.

Here are five of the many reasons why we love the Air Force:

1. The sacrifice our brave men and women make every day

An Airman meets his son for the first time.







PHOTO: Lt. Col. Philip Wielhouwer, 74th Fighter Squadron commander, is pictured here meeting his three-week old son, Ryan, for the first time at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., Aug. 9, 2009. We all know fellow Airmen who have sacrificed precious time with their families for the Air Force mission.

2. The camraderie we share with our fellow Airmen and sister services

An Airman participates in joint service training.






PHOTO: Who else can you punch and still be friends with? All joking aside, our Airmen share a special bond with our fellow military members and each other. If you’ve ever served in the military – you know what we’re talking about.

3. We have some pretty cool aircraft and technology

A JTAC contacts a U.S. Navy F/A-18






PHOTO: This is just epic.

4. Integrity, service and excellence

Airmen lay flags for Veterans Day.






Airmen honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice and embrace the Air Force herritage, while looking forward to what the future brings.

5. We sleep better at night knowing our Airmen keep watch
A pararescueman scans his sector over Afghanistan.






PHOTO: Fly, fight and win.

BONUS: We have really cute puppies

Future military working dog, Xxplorer.






Ok, so that’s not just an Air Force thing..but come on..this guy is pretty cute!

See the rest of the photos we picked for this special set.

Now it’s your turn. Share with us any photos or videos you have that remind you of how much you love the Air Force. Email your photos to us, post them on our Facebook page or use #AFLove to tag your creations on Twitter, Vine or Instagram. Your submission just might be chosen to be featured on one of our social media sites.

Saying goodbye to my best friend

by Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Larlee
436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

There are some experiences in life that are just miserable. Having to say goodbye to our family dog of 10 years provided me with one of my worst days.

Cheyenne was a rat terrier mix we adopted from a pound when she was about 2-years-old. My wife and I often wondered how she even got to a pound in the first place. She was a well-behaved dog that was always affectionate. We often thought she may have been abused, because she was always jumpy and disliked quick movements and people coming up quietly behind her. She never once bit us or our children. She was equally comfortable running around in the backyard or snoozing in her bed during a family movie marathon. In short, she was the perfect pet.

This is a courtesy photo of Cheyenne given to us by Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Larlee.

She had been slowing down recently, but we just thought it was because she was getting old. The end arrived much too quickly. One day I received a frantic text from my wife that there something wrong with our dog. The scene I came home to wasn’t good. Cheyenne was lying on her side and shivering like she was cold. She did not even have the energy to walk. I didn’t even think, I scooped her up and drove her to the veterinarian’s office as quickly as I could.

When I got to the office, they found that her body temperature was 9 degrees cooler than it should be. After warming her up, they took her in for X-rays.

After what seemed like an eternity, the veterinarian technician returned. I could read from her face that she did not have good news. Cheyenne had a huge tumor on her spleen and it was causing her to bleed internally. They could attempt to remove it by surgery, but it would cause our dog a lot of pain and there was no guarantee she would live through the procedure.

The technician proceeded to talk to me about Cheyenne’s quality of life versus quantity of life. I was in shock, but I could read the writing on the wall. It would be unfair and selfish to try to extend my pet’s life a few months because I didn’t want to lose her yet. A slap in the face to the many years of companionship and love she had given us over the years. The logical part of me understood this and made my decision to euthanize her quickly. The emotional part of me was crumbling, and I felt like I was giving up on my friend.

We hastily gathered my family at the veterinarian’s office and said a tearful goodbye to our faithful pet. A trooper to the end, she refused to lie down and received our hugs, kisses and pets standing up with her tail wagging. Doing this must have taxed her greatly. The technician inserted some liquid into the dog’s IV, and in what seemed like seconds, she was gone.

Pet ownership is a weird part of the human experience. At the most you can expect about 15 years with a dog or a cat. Barring you suffering an accident or sudden illness, you are going to outlive your pet. But even with how painful the last few weeks have been for me, the happy times with Cheyenne more than balance out the ledger.

Reflecting back on her life it is hard not to think about how intertwined she became with a good portion of my career.

During her ten years with my family, Cheyenne traveled to four bases. A southern dog her whole life, at 8-years-old she was forced to spend three years in Alaska. I have to admit it was kind of funny watching her try to go to the bathroom in the snow for the first time. The shock of the cold snow caused her to jump into the air out of her squat and glare at the ground like it had just bit her. She quickly adapted, like she did with every challenge. She was probably the happiest member of the family to be leaving Alaska at the end of my assignment there.

While video conferencing with the family during deployments, she could always be seen walking around in the background and would sometimes perk up if she heard my voice from the computer speakers at home. She was always the most hilarious part of a homecoming. She would hop wildly around on her back legs and about take me out at the knees in her excitement.

As military members, we perform a difficult job in a stressful environment. Family and animals provide the anchor that keeps us connected to a more normal style of life. A hug, smile or a wag of the tail is a priceless gift when you come home from an especially bad day.

Cheyenne did her job as an anchor perfectly, and she will be missed.

PHOTO: Cheyenne, a rat terrier mix, brought many happy years to the Larlee Family. (Courtesy photo)

CMSAF and Mrs. Cody Dec. 4 tweetchat

CMSAF James Cody participates in a tweetchat.
by Air Force Public Affairs Agency
Social Media Division

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody and Mrs. Athena Cody particpated in their first tweetchat together Dec. 4 and received 16 questions from Twitter followers regarding the topic: Raising a Family in the Military. During the hour-long event, Chief Cody’s team and the Air Force Social Media Team answered questions about PT scores and the WAPS system, to personnel cutbacks, commissary closures and military family and career advice. We had the pleasure of chatting with Chief and Mrs. Cody in person, but in case you missed it, here are all the questions and answers from the chat. Stay tuned for our next #USAFChat event!

Q1: To improve the PT program as well as the WAPS system, why not include members’ PT score in the WAPS calculation?
A1: We’ve looked at it & we’re not going to go in that direction. That is only one of many standards you have to achieve. (cont)
A1(cont): There are many factors that can impact your PT test & we don’t think it should be valued more than it already is.

Q2: Will education be factored into being retained during cutbacks, or is it a wrong place wrong time kind of thing?
A2: Performance will be the primary factor, and currently we aren’t looking at education as a discerning factor in retention.

Q3: Are there plans for an option, similar to join-spouse option, to help divorced or single parents stay closer to their children?
A3: We can appreciate the concern this presents for some Amn & their families. Currently we’re not looking at this, however (cont)
A3(cont): it’s something we could consider as a topic to present at our Caring for People Forum.

Q4: What are the plans if the govt shuts down again in January?
A4: Implications of a govt shutdown in January, if it were to occur, would be driven through the OPM and DOD.

Q5: Chief with reduction in Amn numbers do you see essential personnel moving away from siloed AFSCs to generalist functional duties?
A5: No. Any force management decisions will be focused on AFSCs with overages.

Q6: Any concern using E5 & E6 strat method for special duty assignment selections & depleting talent from units/career fields?
A6: No, there is no restriction or fenced career fields as it relates to the nominations. (cont)
A6(cont): We will not select Airmen to leave career fields that will be unable to perform their mission w/o these Airmen.

Q7: How will we retain enlisted in growing highly technical fields like cyber and intel afsc?
A7: If we identify a problem w/ retention in these career fields, options are available to offer incentives to increase retention.

Q8: Has the true impact of closing commissaries been studied?
A8: There has been no decision to close commissaries. We’re currently looking at the implications & impact this could have. (cont)
A8(cont):The current fiscal situation has forced the DOD to look at everything. (cont)
A8(cont): We do appreciate the concern and potential impact this would have on our Airmen and their families.

Q9: What additional measures are being considered for force management – additional TERA retirements, palace chase, etc?
A9: We are considering all available options. While we’ve not yet implemented these measures, our first option will be to (cont)
A9(cont): offer voluntary programs and incentives to our Airmen to meet required end strength.

Q10: Coming from a young Airman, what is your best advice to make chief?
A10: Be really, really good at your job. Performance is key.

Q11: What advice would you have for a young dual military couple?
A11: Support one other. It takes a team & both must be equal partners. (cont)

Q12: If you have a civilian wife, is she guaranteed to live with you on base?
A12: If you’re authorized & housing is available, your spouse can live w/ you. There are no guarantees housing will be available.

Q13: If retirement age changes to 65, will those alrdy in be grandfathered so they still receive it after 20+ yrs of service?
A13: The current position in the DOD and of the service chiefs is that any changes to the current retirement system (cont)
A13(cont): would have a provision to grandfather those currently serving; they would fall in the current system.

Q14: Any tips for getting promoted Below the Zone?
A14: The key is to be the very best at your job. To be promoted ahead of your peers, you need to be better than others. (cont)
A14(cont): Your performance must clearly set you apart.

Q15: I’m thinking about joining, but have a young family. Would you still recommend it?
A15: Certainly if your desire is to serve, I’d highly recommend it. Only make this decision if you’ve done so as a family. (cont)
A15(cont): The family serves, not just the one wearing the uniform. There will be challenges that you’ll both face.

Q16: There was a meeting recently with MTI spouses. What about other special duty spouses who face similar issues?
A16: No question we want to meet with all of our spouses & will make ourselves available to do so – just let us know. (cont)
A16(cont): When we visit bases, units, etc., our intent is to be available to spouses as well.

Q17: Are you looking at lowering high year tenure in career fields that are SNCO heavy?
A17: No, we’re not looking at making any changes pertaining to that at this time.

Holiday care packages

By 1st Lt. Victoria Hight
Air Force Public Affairs Agency

As the holiday season approaches, so does the deadline for getting care packages to loved ones overseas on time. With the volume of packages sent around the world during this time of the year, the United States Postal Service has created a page to keep you informed of important dates for getting your packages in the mail.

Whether this is the first time your loved one has deployed, or the 10th, we know that it can be difficult to think of items to send them. So, to help everyone out, we’ve created a list of care package ideas.

*Be sure to check for any customs restrictions. Some items are not allowed to be sent through the mail to certain countries.*
• cookies, especially favorite holiday flavors
• cakes or quick breads
• instant coffee or drink mixes
• favorite seasonings
• items produced locally
• dry soup mix or noodles
• favorite snack items (e.g., sunflower seeds, energy bars, canned nuts, beef jerky, crackers, dried fruit, chips, popcorn and popcorn toppings)
• movies or DVDs of favorite TV shows
• artwork or cards from your children
• personalized calendar
• holiday decorations
• magazine subscription
• books
• puzzles, playing cards or small games
• sports team decorations
• comfy linens or towels
• photos from home
• personal products: favorite shampoo, nail polish, makeup, lotion, perfume or cologne, wet wipes, etc.
• gift cards for online music, apps, magazines and books
• holiday-scented air freshener
• craft kits (e.g., gingerbread house kit, scrapbooking, painting, sewing, knitting)

Don’t think of this as an all encompassing list. In fact, help us out and comment below with your favorite things to include in a care package!