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Agent of Change

Fresno -- Last month I gave you all a little insight into our Master and Senior Master boards by letting you know one of the questions that might be asked. Letting one question out might be overlooked, but I'm sure my brethren in the SNCO ranks won't like it if I give out any more information about the boards. But that's a chance I'll have to take because here's another question that might be asked of you; "If there was one thing on this base that you could change, what would it be?"
We have all kicked around the answer to that King-For-A-Day question. Whether you're a kid living at home, a teenager in high school, a line worker at your fist job or second-in-command at a fortune 500 company, we have all uttered the phrase, "If I were in charge ......."
I always thought the King-For-A-Day question only provided us insight into what the candidate thought was important, what type of issue they would focus on and what where their priorities. That changed this past drill when I sat on the promotion board with Chief Mendez.
Chief Mendez asked our first candidate, a TSGT hoping to be promoted to MSGT, the King-For-A-Day question and the TSGT's answer include such things as; improve feeling of family, better moral, eliminate Us versus Them mentality. A good answer and one we probably hear more times than not. Then Chief Mendez followed up with this second question; "What have you done personally to address/improve the situation you just described?"
That follow-up question was, and is, brilliant! One of the things we want in our leaders is the ability to effect change; to see the obstacle that is keeping us from moving forward and then remove that obstacle. What better way to know if someone has that leadership ability then to know if they have been addressing the biggest obstacle in their own environment. After all, if you have identified the biggest problem in your work environment and have done nothing to correct that problem, then chances are you will not be an agent of change. Now I'm not suggesting that your success or lack there of, in effecting change today will determine your success at being a leader tomorrow. What I am suggesting, is that if you are not trying to effect change today you will not gain the skills needed to effect change tomorrow; and without those skills, you will most likely be an ineffective leader.
Everyone pontificates about what they would do if they were King, but few people actually try and address the issues that are keeping them from moving forward; from fully enjoying their work. Whether those few individuals actually succeed in making change is unimportant. What is important is that they are gaining valuable insight into what it takes to make change happen. It is that insight and that courage to stand-up and try to effect change that, in the long run, will allow those few people to succeed as leaders. Chief Mendez's follow-up question gives us board members a way to find those few individuals and should give all of us something to think about.