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Quality footwear and analog leadership

  • Published
  • By Maj. Benjamin Retzinger
  • 6th Maintenance Operations Squadron commander
Every good story starts with "There I was..." This article is no exception. So there I was my first assignment as an aircraft maintenance officer assigned to a fighter squadron support section. I return from lunch and on my desk is the ACC Maintenance Officer Reference CD-ROM with a yellow sticky from the Squadron Maintenance Officer.

"Lt., it has come to my attention that I am supposed to mentor you. Please review the contents of this disk and let me know if you have any questions."

His note was, of course, sarcasm; he was a hands-on "analog leader." He taught me many lessons over the year and change I spent working for him, some I suspect I have forgotten but most are still with me.

So what is analog leadership? A quick Google search will first lead you to a website for a company that is a "World leader in high performance signal processing," not what I was looking for but on page two link number 17 is a nice piece by Senior Master Sgt. Clayton French Jr. from Keesler AFB. Sergeant French describes analog leadership as "active type of leadership that is door to door, face to face and heart to heart." It is more than sending out the daily taskers in an email. Fire and forget is a great concept for long range standoff weapons but leadership takes loiter time.

I know this is easier said than done for most folks, myself included. Disconnecting and getting out of the office might make you miss an important call, email, text, tweet... but you might learn something important about your unit, facilities, coworkers or yourself. I highly doubt Ed McMahon will stop by with a really big check while you are away. We all have chosen a hands-on profession, it gets dirty and messy from time to time no matter what your AFSC is; there is no way around it. The best advice I have heard in a while is to get out from behind the desk and "wear out a pair of boots every six months".

There is a balance between disconnected and "Helicopter Mom." A section chief I know was asked why he always questioned his young airmen about their weekends and his reply was a simple: "I am old and can't recover from a really good weekend anymore, so I need to live vicariously through you guys." I suspect there was more to it than that; his section did an amazing amount of high quality work, he did get a few good stories out of it some of which may even have been true. I ordered a new pair of boots the other day and plan to wear them out quickly.

I am sure everyone has heard that the new PT standards are in full effect. What better way to practice a little analog leadership than get out and sweat a little bit. It just so happens I have a new pair of running shoes as well; hope to see you on the track.