‘Old School’ leadership in a ‘1-click’ world

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Tuesdays are an exciting time in the Cole house. Returning home from work, I'm always greeted by a box or two, stacked outside my front door -- the spoils of another weekend of casual online shopping.

A book, a flashlight, shampoo, or a bag of potato chips (no joke)...it's all fair game. And it can be yours in two days, shipped for free, with the click of a single button.

I can't be the only person to notice that, as life gets more "convenient" with technology, it doesn't seem to get much easier. Don't get me started on BlackBerries. Maybe I'm "old school," but I grew up in a world where my parents came home from work, and they were actually home...from work. They were able to focus on their family and weren't jumping at the lights and sounds of an electronic task master.

This is the world we live in. Empowered by technology and influenced by fiscal constraints. Many of us are asked to do more with less, and there's no end in sight. In spite of the challenges, the men and women of the 45th Space Wing are doing great things. We've achieved unprecedented mission success, safely, while nurturing the development of new launch providers and our country's return to manned space flight.

We're all leaders, and we all have great challenges ahead of us. Here's my challenge to you -- find time in the day, every day, to put down your BlackBerry, log out of Task Management Tool (TMT), shut down your email, and be an "old school" leader. Talk to your co-workers face-to-face and share in their struggles and triumphs. Make a long-term plan instead of reacting to the latest email or tasker. Go to lunch together!

At times, we all need to be "one-click" managers behind a desk. It's the price of doing business in today's workplace. But don't confuse "management" with "leadership" -- we must do both to be successful. If you take care of your people, they will take care of the mission.