Posts Tagged ‘Air Force’

Leading from Memory

Friday, May 28th, 2010

This past January I returned to Lackland Air Force Base for the first time since I graduated from Basic Training and Tech School in 2002. For the most part things haven’t changed. The dorms are still the same. The food at the dining facilities is still the same. The trainees walking around developing nevous ticks because they’re afraid they’re going to get yelled at for something they didn’t know they were doing is still the same.

One thing, however, was incredibly different. Seven years ago when I went to the library to check my email (During tech school, I didn’t know there was any such thing as a library in Basic) there was virtually no one there. There were only two computers but I could always log onto one. Seven years later, the situation had changed drastically. This time when I went to the library it was packed. There was a line for people waiting to use the computers to check email, Facebook, Twitter, and a myriad of other social networking opportunities. To me, this was a striking change.

In my mind, Lackland was trapped in time. My memory of Lackland was static. But Lackland was changing. The culture of Lackland was changing. Some of the streets even changed while I was gone. As leaders we often forget this phenomenon. We think that the only changes that happen in our spheres of influence are the ones that we enact. There are places in our organizations that we think are exactly as we left them. They’re static in our memories. The problem is that they’re not static in reality. They are constantly changing. If we try to lead from a distance things will change and we will no longer know how to effectively lead.

One of the essential characteristics of effective leadership is Learn Continuously. As leaders we need to focus on constantly learning about the changes going on in our spheres of influence. We also need to constantly learn how to leverage those changes to fulfill the vision God has given us for our organizations. Seven years ago social networking was sending out a group email to invite people to a party. Today, if you’re not leveraging Facebook and other social networking technology you’re leading through a static memory rather than leading in reality.

What are some of the ways you’re engaging with the changes in your organization to be a more effective leader?