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Chief’s Corner - week of Jan. 29

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Sacrifice

If I had to sum up leadership with one word, it would be sacrifice.  Not sacrifice in a suffering kind of context, but sacrifice in the noble context of service.  There are many forms of sacrifice a military member makes, but a leader has to make many more especially in relation to sacrifices in time.  I will cover just a few sacrifices a leader makes in relation to time that are very important.  Sacrificing time to developing people, sacrificing time to hear the needs of your people and sacrificing time to reward your people are all important.

Sacrifice in time is needed to properly develop people.  It takes patience and time to develop people properly.  We sometimes find that it is easier to just do a task ourselves rather than walk a person through it so they can learn.  This can be frustrating, but is an extremely important form of sacrifice if we are to prepare the next generation of Airmen to take our place.  Teaching someone to do something takes more time than doing the task itself, but as a leader you must sacrifice the quick and easy to create the abilities in another.  This is how you prepare the next generation and it is an extremely important sacrifice to make with your time.

Sacrificing time to hear the needs of your people can cause you to get behind, or have to stay late--but there is a positive result relative to the small investment you make.  Taking the time to genuinely listen to your people means a lot to them and is very important to build trust and relationships.  People react well when they see that you are willing to make time to hear what their needs are and what they are thinking.  Think of how many times you may have said something like, "If I only had known you needed some help" or something like it. Chances are, you may have known if you had made the small sacrifice in time to find out.  Lastly, sacrificing time to hear the needs of your people can sometimes save a life or change a life positively.  We don't know what people are going through if we don't take the time to ask.  Sacrificing of a little of your time to listen can make a big difference.

Finally, sacrificing your time to reward your people can be exhausting, but is extremely important.  We just passed the annual awards season, so many can relate to the statement that it takes a lot of sacrifice in relation to time and energy.  However, rewards do not always have to be a 1206 or trophy.  They can be as simple as a compliment, or thanking someone for going the extra mile to help someone.  As a supervisor, writing performance reports, decorations and quarterly/annual awards require that you sacrifice time and are part of your duties.  This can stretch into off-duty time, but is an important duty of a leader.  Most rewards do not take a lot of time and do a huge amount of good when you consider the small sacrifice of time it takes to do them.

Being a leader requires sacrifice.  Although there are many more forms of sacrifice you experience as a leader, time is a large one.  But like I mentioned in the beginning, the sacrifice we are referring to is in the noble context of service.  It is something to be proud of, something very rewarding and something that can really define you as a leader!
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