Attract and Retain Great Talent

Gen David Goldfein, Air Force Chief of Staff, had some interesting things to say about leadership while praising MSgt John Chapman, Medal of Honor winner*.  Gen Goldfein’s comments apply far beyond the military, and apply to each and every organization that wants to attract and retain great talent.

Allow me to share some comments from Adam Hebert’s editorial*:

Probably the most important thing we can do to keep people in the United States Air Force  . . . is to put in inspirational commanders and leaders, both officers and NCOs,” Goldfein explained.  The wrong leaders create hostile environments and send airmen heading for the exits.

“Our airmen are far too smart to walk by or not see a say / do gap,” Goldfein said, referencing leaders who would tell their subordinates one thing but behave differently.  “If they see me saying one thing and doing another they’re going to see right through it.”

This is another way of stating John Maxwell’s Law of the Picture, from his 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.  People in all walks of life respond to the leaders’ examples.  The hypocrisy of “do as I say, not as I do” will drive people away.  That hypocrisy is part of what creates a hostile environment, and causes good workers, not just airmen, heading for the exits.  It is absolutely true that people do not quit a job – they fire their boss.  Good people want to work for a good boss where they are challenged, they know their work is important, and they can make a contribution.  The good boss extends well beyond just the business owner or C-level suite.  A poor leader in a mid-level position or as a direct front line supervisor will drive people away as rapidly as a poor leader at the top level.

From the same source, “The right leaders rally the troops behind them and create a culture in which airmen will eagerly go the extra mile to ensure success, whatever the mission might be.”  The mission is your vision.  Do your employees, the troops, go that extra mile to take care of the customer?  Do they spend extra time with a customer even though it is time to go to lunch?  Simply put, in business terms, the right leaders have an engaged workforce in a culture of accountability.  These employees will achieve your vision and more; without the right leaders the workforce watches the clock for quitting time, and does not go that extra mile, and does not take responsibility for achieving the vision.

What does this mean for you?  First, what are you doing to become a better leader?  The very best leaders understand continued growth is the first mark of a good leader; are you growing your leadership?  What about your team?  Are they developing as leaders?  What are you doing to grow your leaders?  If you don’t have ready answers for these questions, let’s talk!

*Air Force Magazine, Oct/Nov 2018, p2.

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