Mentoring, and the impact one person can have

Discussion in 'Academy/Military News' started by flieger83, Jan 11, 2012.

  1. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    All,

    In the past I posted a little bit about MGen Flowers...he was the USAF's equivalent of the "ancient mariner."

    Gen Flowers retired 1 Jan 2012.

    Today there was an "editorial" posted on the AF website by another officer who was obviously "influenced/mentored/guided" by Gen Flowers...it's very telling.

    So I thought I'd share...imagine how many more folks probably have similar stories about just ONE person. If we ALL aspire to that level of respect, how can we NOT be successful?

    http://www.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123285758

    And Gen Flowers?

    http://www.af.mil/information/bios/bio.asp?bioID=7833

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  2. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    I just saw your post here Flieger83- great comment and question. I can think of guys who have really influenced how I approach life- in my job and outside it. I've also seen phenomenally bad leaders who have driven really good people away, or because they were successful personally, steered others into their own toxic path.
    What makes a great mentor and leader? Chime in with your thoughts and experiences.

    I can think of several really outstanding guys from my career who I just admired- two of whom wound up about as high as you could go in the Army -LTG Joe Kinzer and Gen Wayne Downing- were both guys who you would follow to hell if they told you that it was part of the detail- but you knew that it would be following them because they would be the very first guys to go - not in the back cleaning up some last minute details. Gen Downing was also the smartest guy I ever met in any field, I have never since met anyone with a greater command of the details of any subject regardless of how little time he was given to digest the issue.
     
  3. Hurricane12

    Hurricane12 USNA 2012

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    General Mattis gave a Forrestal lecture here at USNA last night. Freakin' awesome, easily one of the top three speeches I've heard during my time here. Filled up my notebook with awesome quotes.
     
  4. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ Member

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    SO many mentors...both seniors and peers, both far above me and at the next desk.

    There was the tough love of my first department head at Naval Station Rota Spain Port Operations, a Vietnam War riverine warfare LDO (former Boatswain's Mate), who started one memorable "mentoring" (not sure he knew the word, he just knew his job was to train an ensign to not embarrass the department) session, with "there could be a boatload (not quite the word he used) of good reasons for doing X, but no golly-darned (most definitely not the words he used) EXCUSE!" I can't remember how many times I used that during my career, to get someone's attention. I had two fellow division officers, CWO4's, with 50 years' experience between them, and they were tremendous mentors (but again, not a word they would use). They took the time and patience to teach a junior officer what's not in the leadership manuals. When it was my turn to mentor junior officers, I found myself saying the same things, though not quite as colorfully. I like to think they would have been proud of me.

    There was the soft-spoken commanding officer, yet someone who exuded command presence, for whom I worked during my first job in command, who showed me the sticky notes on his computer monitor: Have I thanked my people today? Who else needs to know about this? Do not shoot the messenger. Have I given my people what they need to do their job? What precedent does this set? Have I been true to my command philosophy? What is the impact of this policy decision 5 years down the road? Is this the right thing to do? And many others... He modeled supportive, confident, fair-minded, consistent, even-tempered leadership behavior 100% of the time, made you smile and feel appreciated even as you knew the tasker he just handed you would be heck on wheels. In later jobs and in a later CO position, I found myself thinking about those sticky notes. And using them.

    There was also an officer, just a few years senior to me, with whom I served. I watched him, and just had the feeling he would go far. Superb speaker and communicator, worked hard, played hard, took care of his people, made the hard decisions, made people want to follow him. He's now a four-star admiral, but he also took the time to mentor a sponsor daughter of mine at USNA with some advice about choice of post-graduate school, SWO assignment, and also invited her to come work for him during a summer internship, all via email. He also mentored me at the Pentagon and other points in my career, as he did/does many others.

    I think one common theme here is "taking the time" to invest in the professional development of others, and modeling the behavior of a leader and principled officer.
     
  5. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    I agree with Captain MJ...so many...

    They're all "similar" so an example I'll give of the finest mentor I had (and I had a bunch of great ones): Steve Lorenz.

    Steve's a unique guy: you either LOVE him and would follow him to the gates of hell just to see if they're hot, if he asked. Or you HATE/LOATH/DESPISE him. I never quite understood that part...the man to me was/is amazing. But we can't all be "loved" by everyone. Anyway, he can see things that others can't, he makes decisions quickly and almost always accurately, BUT if he makes a mistake, he's the FIRST to stand up and say "Boy, I blew that one, didn't I!"

    The best example that truly reinforced the role of a senior officer/mentor/leader to me was this. I was his exec...a young captain, he was the group commander (Col) at the time. He called me on a Monday morning at 0600..."Steve...I need to see you ASAP!" So I climbed out of bed and in I went. He hands me a STACK of information, data, etc., and says "I need a presentation covering all this; no more than about 15 slides...call me if you have any questions, etc., and I need this Thursday at close of business.

    "Yes sir!"

    SO...imagine how many hours I spent doing that, as well as training pilots, and performing my other duties. And I turned it in to him late Thursday.

    "Thanks Steve, I appreciate it" (BIG SMILE)

    The next morning I'm briefing two new pilots for a training sortie the following day when I get a call: "Report to Col Lorenz immediately." Okay guys, take an hour...

    I rush over (what have I done wrong, examine all sins...) and knock on his briefing room door; he opens it.

    "Captain Steve...thank you for coming...(takes me in to the briefing room he's in). Gentlemen, this is Captain Steve, he put together that excellent briefing I just gave, I thought if you had any questions, he'd be your expert!"

    :eek: A 3 Star General :eek: A 2 star general :eek: TWO 1 star generals :eek:

    And several colonels and lesser Gods (I was a captain then).

    And all I got were a few questions, easily answered and some handshakes and nice compliments. And as I looked over to the corner, there was Steve Lorenz, leaning against the wall with a big smile on his face.

    I gained SO much confidence at that moment...and "IT" all made sense: he knew this stuff cold, could have done this in an afternoon, but he let me do it, learn it, and then prepare the briefing for the numbered air force commander and his staff...and then he presented me to them saying "THIS officer did this work, NOT ME..."

    "There is no I in team, always challenge your people, aid/assist/advise/mentor them, let them make mistakes, then help them learn from them rather than criticize, reward and praise publicly, reprimand privately, never forget you were once where they are...remember that they will replace you one day!"

    I become a MUCH better officer just from that one day and my entire time working for Steve Lorenz.

    Oh, he finished his career a year ago and I think he did pretty well...

    http://www.af.mil/information/bios/bio.asp?bioID=6234

    I have almost every article he's written on leadership...and I'm proud to say some of them I have his original on yellow notepad paper...

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  6. goaliedad

    goaliedad Parent

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    I think the same quote could be used to advise how to raise children, except to finish the quote "they will change your diapers one day" was what I remember... :shake:

    Seriously, this is a message I've heard from many military people over the years. It is great that you had such a fine example of that in your CoC.
     

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