US Air Force Security Forces Officers

When I think of leadership I can’t help but think of the military forces and the leaders within each organization.

Last week I attended my son’s graduation from the Air Force Security Forces. The keynote was delivered by Retired General John P. Jumper, who served as the Chief of Staff of the US Air Force from 2001 – 2005. General Jumper delivered a moving speech to the graduating class on leadership. In his keynote the General said,  “You have been trained as leaders.  You will leave today with analog skills but you will live in a digital world. Don’t forget the importance of a good leader is to make direct contact with your team. Step away from the desk, email and digital communication and remember to look your team in the eye and shake their hands. Get to know them as individuals.  Let them know who you are. ”

It was obvious to the audience that General Jumper leads with passion and was an outstanding leader. He could have easily sent a written statement to be read to the class but he made the decision to deliver it himself. I watched him look his audience in the eye as he spoke making direct contact as though  he were talking to an audience of one.

I subscribe to many blogs on leadership. As I sat and listened to General Jumper I recalled a blog post by Randy Hall, CEO 4th Gear on “Management vs Leadership … or is it? In his post Randy commented that too often leaders believe in the idea they should “sit atop the organization and gaze upon it from a lofty perch where you make disconnected decisions and advance your own ideas.  That’s not leadership or management, that’s simply abuse of power.”

Randy’s definition of leadership is, ” causing individuals, organizations, or communities to achieve more of their potential in a positive, sustainable way.  When working from that perspective, someone who makes uninformed decisions from a detached position isn’t a leader, no matter what position he or she happens to hold.  Those decisions can’t cause the organization and the individuals who make it up to achieve more, and often result in actually hampering the success of the business.”

I don’t know if Randy ever met General Jumper but they share the same beliefs. After spending a weekend with my son (on the far left in the photograph) and his friends from training I am confident they have developed the personal leadership skills  that Randy and General Jumper believe are necessary to become successful leaders.