Air Force challenges - analog leadership is part of the solution set

  • Published
  • By Col. Michael A. Greiner
  • 97th Mission Support Group
What does the average American do 60 times and 35 times each day? If you said the average American sends 60 texts and 35 emails per'd be right. In fact, more than 90 trillion emails are sent annually around the globe. Make no mistake; we are part of an integrated, digital world. For the most part, the tools and systems that help us navigate this digital landscape allow us to be very efficient in our daily communication with others. We must be careful not to mistake our increased ability and means to communicate for effective communication.

In a recent hearing before the House Armed Services Committee addressing sexual assault within the Service, Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh III testified, "Why, on what was undoubtedly the worst day of a victim's life, did they not turn to us for help?" he asked. "We are missing something fundamental in human-to-human interaction that will allow them to feel safe enough to come to us and report and let us put our arms around them and help them through this horrible event in their life."

In the final analysis, perhaps many factors will be identified that kept victims from seeking help within their chain of command. Equally important is for leaders to seek solutions to improving the lives of our Airmen.

In theory, analog leadership is not difficult. Analog leadership is nothing more than finding ways to increase and leverage the human-to-human interaction General Welsh highlights above so the first thought in an Airman's mind, during trying times or post-tragedy, is to come to their chain of command for help.

For leaders, it means making a phone call instead of sending a text; or better yet, getting out from behind the computer and visiting your team at their workspace instead of sending a mass email. It requires investing time, getting to know those you work with, learning what makes them tick, finding out their goals and dreams, and doing everything you can to help them be successful.

Sometimes analog leadership can be uncomfortable - forcing us to ask the difficult questions and maybe even pry - to ensure a fellow Airman is doing okay.

On any given day, I can rattle off 101 excuses why I cannot break away from my desk and go talk to Airmen - one more Enlisted Performance Report to review, one more Electronic Staff Summary Sheet to coordinate, one more briefing to give, one more meeting to attend - the list is endless. But all we need is one reason why we CAN break the chain, and we should be gone, out the door engaging with Airmen.