Mentor Leadership - 90 seconds to connect

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- While attending the squadron commander's course a few months ago, I had the great opportunity to hear words of wisdom from Chief Master Sgt. James Cody, the Command Chief Master Sergeant for Air Education and Training Command, who left us with many keys and tips for a successful command tour.

Here is something he said that left a lasting impression for me: with increased responsibilities and operational demands, we can easily get lost in the mission and hot issues that must be addressed. He then asked us to do one thing: take 90 seconds to talk to someone and see how they are doing.

It's a simple concept, yet we often struggle to take the time to really talk to our fellow Airmen.

What I took from his remark is the need to connect to people. By making a connection you may be afforded a meaningful opportunity to positively impact someone's life and help them to work through problems, or provide them with advice to "grow" them as individuals and leaders. This is what many refer to as Mentor Leadership.

As leaders, supervisors and co-workers, the potential exists for countless interactions throughout the day or work week. When you really look at it, we spend more time with our Air Force family than we do our families at home. As Mentor Leaders we must be aware of the challenges and stresses that many in our organizations are facing, and the best way to get to these is to engage people to bring them to light.

If we all reflect at the end of a duty day, we can ask ourselves: did I take the time to talk to someone and see how they are doing? Did I take the time to truly listen to what they had to say? Again, 90 seconds is all it takes to make a connection. The potential of those 90 seconds could range from friendly banter to sharing a positive disposition. This contact could also be the catalyst an individual needs to share an issue that otherwise would have remained compartmented.

Leaders are made up of all backgrounds, levels of experience and ranks. The time used to connect to our Airmen and positively impact their lives, develops leaders who are fundamental to our personal and professional growth.

There will always be a hot tasker or project demanding our focus and attention, but we must also recognize that our Airmen need as much, if not more, of our focus and attention.

We have to find the balance, which is why a quick conversation is better than not engaging people at all.

So, as Cody offered this message at my commander's course, I extend it to us all. Devote 90 seconds to talk to someone and really see how they are doing. Mentor Leaders understand that unless people know how much you care, they won't care how much you know.