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Communicating like a leader

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

It can be difficult for leadership to juggle the increasing needs of their office during a global pandemic, as well as ensure their Airmen are being taken care of. But that is exactly what the 21st Communications Squadron at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado is doing every single Friday.

“Hey, it’s really great to see everybody,” said Senior Master Sgt. Michael Kienholz, 21 CS plans and resources flight chief, as he kicked off their weekly video mentoring session, Friday, April 17. “This is week five that we’ve all been stuck at home. I think we’re up to almost 60 people…and it’s just great to see so many faces.”

Five weeks quarantined and this is the third professional development meeting that the team has had, ranging from topics about the Thrift Savings Plan to building relationships. Every person in the meeting has their video feed on and are using the chat option to say hello and catch up with one another while being socially distant. And it’s that type of leadership that is on this meeting’s agenda.

Seung Paik, a retired Air Force colonel, briefed on the concept of “Leadernomics”. It is focused on inspiring individuals to wisely focus and invest not only your money, but also your time, talents and even emotional energy. He illustrated that by discussing the sunk cost fallacy of economics.

Sunk cost is essentially knowing when to quit a process or idea, even if a significant amount of time and money have been invested.

And during a chaotic time like this, it’s a lesson that everyone can learn to implement.

“There’s something to be said about being isolated and being outside of significant relationships right now,” Paik said, discussing how the concept of ‘sunk cost’ relates to people in isolation. “Whether you’re dealing with some kind of addiction or you haven’t cultivated and relationships or community, I don’t know how you’re going to get out of that issue, I really don’t.”

But that’s where good leadership comes in.

“Even though it’s hard work and it takes energy and time, that value is not for the good times,” explained Paik. “It’s for the sunk cost times. And it’s not an easy thing because most of us are busy, and we make ourselves busy, and we’re tasked to be busy. But I challenge you to take some time in the midst of your challenges to be contemplative and introspective.” 

And if you haven’t built up that reserve during these sunk cost times, it doesn’t mean you can’t start. If you haven’t reached out to your teammates lately, do so. If you see a problem and have a solution, speak up! That’s one of the most important parts of leadership. Seeing where time and attention has been misspent and redirecting it. Even if that is within yourself.

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