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Dr. Linda Henman to AFA: Lead Your Team Beyond Tactics

One thing the Air Force is really good at is solving tactical issues. The challenge, is to get out of being a tactician and to think strategically.

In other words, getting out of the “trenches” and being able to see the organization from the 30,000-foot view is pivotal to the organization’s success.
As author of “The Magnetic Boss”, speaker Dr. Linda Henman, is known throughout civilian sector as an authority on leadership. She spoke to a group of about 25 people at a breakout session at the Air Force Association Conference on Sept. 15, 2008.
“There is no universally accepted definition of leadership,” Henman said.
Leadership is about getting people to disrupt their lives and to implement change, she continued. To do things they wouldn’t normally do because you as their leader motivated them to do it.
Many organizations have a number of challenges facing their leaders. Henman said there are three main qualities of a magnetic leader; they set the direction, they make high caliber decisions and develop the benchmark.
Henman defined strategy as knowing what to worry about tomorrow. She illustrated this by the example of the gas crisis of the 1970s, citing the resistance at Ford Motor Company to produce smaller, more fuel-efficient cars.
Their failure to anticipate market trends, and to think strategically, caused them to lose market share to foreign car companies who saw the writing on the wall, she said.
According to Henman, in order to be successful, every organization needs a mission statement. An effective mission statement answers three important questions: Why do we exist?; Who are our customers?; and, What do our customers expect from us?
“Mission, vision, values. Once you have those three in place, you move beyond the tactical and into the strategic,” Henman said.
“A tactic done twice becomes a procedure,” she continued. “But that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the best practice.”
In order to improve any strategy, Henman recommends brainstorming. She implored the audience to ask the question, “What if?” Coming up with possible answers to that question will allow you to prepare a “way ahead” strategy, she said.
One point Henman presented pertained directly to the Air Force.
“What if we lose our talented people?” she asked. Preparing for the loss of talented employees will prepare the organization to effectively recruit and train new people, she added.
Henman said leaders must make high-caliber decisions. She added that effective leaders have three important qualities; 1. Agility of thought; 2. Good listening skills; and, 3. The ability to get along with others (to be selfless in your dedication).
She also stressed that good leaders should stop expecting their workers to listen to managers, and instead, to get managers to listen to their workers.
“But don’t go on hearsay,” Henman warned. “Become fact-driven. Don’t rely on hunches or guesswork,” she said. “Take the time to check the facts.”
She also recommended bending the golden rule when it comes to managing a workforce.
“Don’t treat people the way you want to be treated,” she said. “Instead, treat them the way they need to be treated.”
Another quality of a strategic leader is to motivate the workforce. Henman stressed that by delegating authority and responsibility to the top people in any organization, the workforce is automatically motivated to success.
Finally, effective leaders know when to let people go.
“Fire when necessary,” she said, adding, “The best thing you can do to avoid firing people is to hire the best person for the job in the first place.”
Henman said leaders need to ask themselves three important questions about prospective employees; Can they prioritize tasks?; Can they get to the core of what the organization needs?; and finally, Are they are flexible? (in other words, can they morph their skill set and knowledge to suit the organization’s needs?)
“If you can say yes to those three questions, then you are a strategic and effective leader,” Henman said. “Then you mentor the top 20-percent,” she added.
During the question and answer session, one question came up regarding civilian versus military employees. Henman said top performers share three traits: They are hard working, they are smart, and they have integrity. “Top performers are exactly the same regardless if they’re in uniform or not,” she said.
While Dr. Henman’s talk was inspiring and informational, the challenge of those in attendance is to take this information back to their perspective units and to dovetail some of these new skills into their organizations.
One other question from the audience had to do with generational differences. They asked how should Generation-X be treated differently from Generation-Y, or the “Millennials“.
Henman replied, “If you are a top performer, it doesn’t matter what generation you’re from. They’re all the same.”
It appeared there were several members in the audience who questioned her findings about generational differences. Furthermore, it is the understanding of this author that countless studies show that Gen-X’ers, Baby-Boomers and Millennials see the world differently from each other, with the latter group more interested in “making a difference” and being a part of a team. Baby-Boomers are most often motivated by money and gifts (and promotions), while X’ers can sometimes be motivated with money and gifts, but most Millennials want time off, recognition and praise.
Millenials, who are now entering the workforce, also want time off and praise for a job well done, but come to many organizations with a sense of entitlement—something the the Baby Boomers and Gen-X’ers don’t necessarily share with the younger generation.
Dr. Henman would do well to incorporate a discussion on these generational differences into her presentation, and present data found in many studies on these differences. True, her assertion that regardless of which generation a worker hails from, all top performers appear to be similar, but there is no denying that their motivations come from vastly different origins. Moreover, to lump three different generations of workers into two groups labled “Top Performers” and “non-Top Performers”, ignores the value each generation brings to any organization.
Feel free to discuss this topic with comments of your own.
Posted By Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy, Air Force Public Affairs

AFA Conference Discussion: Emerging Cyber-Threats on the Web

As technology becomes more prevalent and people increasingly turn to the Internet to manage their lives, cyber criminals are keeping pace and causing millions of dollars of damage and loss of productivity. Dr. Neil Daswani discussed some of the common types of cyber threats and what people, and organizations like the Department of Defense, can do to minimize those threats.
Two common types of Internet damage include data breaches and malware.

Data Breaches have caused big problems in recent years. TJX (parent company of TJ Maxx and Marshalls), the Veterans Affairs Administration, and CardSystems credit card payment processors were all victims of major data breaches where information was stolen. The theft generally affects customers (the end user) of the organization that is breached and can result in stolen money, or stolen identity. Breaches are a big problem because millions of people can be affected at once.

How do data breaches occur? The three most common events resulting in theft are stolen equipment (35%), lost equipment (5%), hacking (60%). These breaches have resulted in over 230 million lost or stolen customer records since 2005. It is not surprising that hacking is the most common form of theft. Because criminals are keeping up with technology, it is imperative that when developing a Website or new software, you have to assume that criminals will try to hack into it and steal information.

What can we do to protect ourselves?
Dr. Daswani suggested that individuals and organizations alike arm and educate themselves. He recommended some online resources to learn about security.

He also suggested that a security czar is elected for each project and you create a secure development lifecycle.

Malware results in damage to your network or computer when somebody captures your keystrokes, thereby resulting in stolen usernames and passwords. The end results could be that your system is forced to join a botnet (network of bad machines) and sends email spam from your machine, among other countless malicious acts you may not know are occurring.

What has changed in Malware Distribution?
–Old style: email, peer to peer
–New style: infect web pages and drive-by-downloads.
Because Websites are being targeted more, it is imperative that developers create safer sites, and end users know where they are going online. Many cyber criminals use social engineering to get you to hit their sites (phishing). For example, they might send emails with breaking news headlines that then takes you to a botnet site. When you click on the phony link, you are taken to a malware site that may log your keystrokes and you end up infecting your computer. Therefore, malware is a very significant threat.

What is industry doing? To reduce malware attacks, Google, for example, is adding a note to search results that states: “This site may harm your computer.” This warning is added to sites that are known, or suspected, to be malicious. If the end user clicks on the site anyway, Google gives you another warning that the site may harm your computer. The user has to physically copy and paste the link if they still want access.

How can you protect yourself?

–Change passwords on home routers and wifi systems.
–Use a firewall and anti-virus software
–Install patches and updates immediately. Use auto update.
–Make backups or used backup service.
–Use browsers with malware protection (eg. Chrome, Firefox)
–Choose good, strong passwords.
–Use bookmarks for financial sites instead of typing the URL each time.
And remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it likely is.

Posted by Mr Paul Bove, Air Force Public Affairs

Live from the AFA Air and Space Conference–Day 1

Greetings from the AFA Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition. Today is day one of the three-day event and there are numerous speakers and topics being discussed. Air Force Live is going to try to bring you notes, blurbs and highlights from as many as we can. Take a look and let us know what you think. Additionally, our colleagues are reporting stories we’re unable to catch, so look for links to when those are published.

Acting Secretary of the Air Force, Michael B. Donley, just gave his “State of the Air Force” address. Below are some quick notes from SSgt Julie Weckerlein. Look for the full article in tomorrow’s coverage.

–The Air Force is not about senior leadership, the focus should be on warfighting capabilities of total force, we are all ready to move forward and focus on

–Sec. Donley is delighted to have Gen. Schwartz on staff. His joint experience is much needed in the AF.

–First order of business is to address immediate concerns on the nuclear and acquisition enterprise. Modify Airman training programs. And decision to focus on current problems with uniforms (PT, Apex), uniforms.

–On the way ahead: Use time wisely to prepare for a new administration. We’ll need to take care of Airmen and families. We’ll also need to get back to modernizing our aging air and space fleets. First priority must be nuclear work. Corrective actions underway. We established a task force in June to review nuclear from strat perspective. Review progress with senior leaders and other partners in OSD {Office of the Secretary of Defense} and department of energy at a nuclear summit. Improve focus on nuclear capabilities, and how to manage theater and global missions both conventional and nuclear.

–How Airmen are in the fight: 33,000 Airmen deployed worldwide, 26,000 in 36 locations. Airmen make critical contributions every day. 157,000 have shouldered the burden of multiple deployments. Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, Airmen 145 airlift sorties per day, moving people and cargo. We’ve airlifted over thousands of MRAP vehicles, once in theater, dozens of satellites watch over them. Airmen facilitate joint combat control.

–Some final food for thought: How can AF best prepare for transition? We need to be certain who we are. We are adjusting skill sets/force structure accordingly. Daily adjustments contribute to AF trends. Need to focus who we are becoming. We are providers of tremendous capability of air and space. All Airmen in every function speciality are contributing. Second, we need to prepare to engage, debate major issues facing AF. Our midterm studies are in step. As we do so, we cultivate reasoned perspective.

Look for more information and the full story later.

Posted by Mr Paul Bove, Air Force Public Affairs


Pentagon 9-11 Memorial Dedication: Thoughtful thoughts

Most writers and journalists rushed to file their stories and photos yesterday while the fire was still hot, and readers or viewers were being inundated by September 11-related stories.

However, I decided to wait till today to share my thoughts. I figured the several-hour delay would allow my mixture of emotions and thoughts to congeal into a nice “soup”, which I could offer up today to the masses–the same people who may have already moved on to other fare offered by the commercial news outlets; the impending hurricane, political candidates, and the latest on Britney’s musical comeback, to name a few.

Too bad.

I say this because the observances, commemorations, and dedications which took place yesterday across the nation and throughout the world, should never be relegated to a “news spot” or a tagline.

The thousands who perished during the attacks of September 11, 2001, and indeed the thousands more in uniform who paid the ultimate sacrifice defending our freedoms before and after that infamous date deserve more. Much more.

Former Defense Secretary, Don Rumsfeld, speaking at the Pentagon’s 9/11 Memorial said it best: “… Never forget how this long struggle began and never forget those who fell first.”

While the 184 souls who perished in the attack on the Pentagon are forever immortalized in a simple yet elegant memorial of natural and man-made materials fronting the very building where American Airlines Flight 77 pierced the rings of this country’s most important seat of military might, other memorials remain unfinished.

There is still a temporary memorial dedicated to those who died in a cornfield in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, when Flight 93 crashed there. It was erected mostly by visitors and local residents, while the Flight 93 National Memorial Advisory Commission, formed in 2003, continues to develop a permanent memorial.

At the World Trade Center site, where more than 3,000 people died seven years ago, nothing exists except for what Manhattan residents and the New York Times refer to as “The Hole“. Construction delays on the new World Trade Center building has gone through several revisions, and the plans for an on-site memorial moves slowly, while other commissions and panels debate the breadth and scope of the memorial and its cost.

So the Pentagon’s Memorial will have to serve as the first–and for now, only–permanent place of solace and remembrance for a nation which still longs for healing. The reason we build memorials is not for the dead–they are so the living can find peace and hope–which is intrinsically linked to healing our collective wounds. The key being to heal, but not forget.

At this memorial, in the shadow of the newly-refurbished Pentagon, are 184 polished steel benches. In and amongst the maple trees, the benches are arranged on a gravel field, each with their own lighted reflecting pool, and inscribed with a name of each of the victims who perished in the attack there seven years ago. This place will stand with the many other national monuments of our nation’s capital as yet another testiment to sacrifices laid down by Americans.

This memorial may serve as a place where survivors and family members from far and wide may visit to heal. I hope in due time the other memorials are built to help a nation heal, and to provide their citizens with a place of solace and hope. And healing.

Kudos to the Pentagon Memorial Fund, for their decisive action and thoughtful consideration, and to its Chairman, James J. Laychak, who lost dear friends and his older brother, David W. Laychak, in the attack on the Pentagon. Maybe their accomplishment will serve as an example for other groups to follow.

And to those Americans who have turned their attention back to the 2008 political campaign, or to rising gas prices as a result of Hurricane Ike, or Jessica Simpson’s new country music career, please don’t forget the gravity of each and every September 11 anniversary. It is a chance for our nation to remember, to heal and to grow.

In his closing remarks yesterday, Adm. Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, “The spirit of those who perished here live on, in us.”

I’d like to think that the “us” he was referring to was all of us.

Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
New Media NCOIC, Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

Airmen provide Hurricane relief

UPDATE: Watch a news clip from within the Hunters.

Airmen are continually assisting more in the roles of aeromedical evacuation of patients on the Gulf Coast. This role was important during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita now with Gustav and Ike. Typically, the Air National Guard from surrounding states makes these missions happen.

Closely on the heels of supporting FEMA efforts during Hurricane Gustav, the Air Force Hurricane Hunters out of Keesler AFB, Ms. are performing reconnaissance in tracking Hurricane Ike. The Air Force plays a significant role in humanitarian efforts, disaster relief for emergency evacuations, forward disaster area aid, and in storm tracking. Newsvine story, Link here.
Check out the Hurricane Hunter story on NPR here.
For constant updates on Hurricane Ike relief supports and how the U.S. Air Force helps, link here.

Posted by Capt. David Faggard, Air Force Public Affairs