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Followers and leaders

June 5, 2009

“You have to be a good follower to be a good leader.”
“Rarely do we have total situational awareness.”
“The uniform represents organizational trust that those who wear it have been thoroughly trained and have integrity.”

Those were some of the insights shared by 2nd Lt. Nick Mercurio and Sharon Hamric, McConnell Air Force Base communicators, at our recent PRSA Kansas lunch. Mercurio is chief of public affairs and Hamric is chief of community relations.

I was impressed — inspired, even — by their commitment to honestly and ethically communicate the McConnell story and raise awareness of the base and its service members. Mercurio’s comments regarding decision-makers, and the lack thereof in the corporate world, was particularly striking.

His personal example: He graduated last year with a bachelor’s in English from the Air Force Academy. He was immediately assigned to be chief of public affairs for the base, with not one day’s worth of real-world experience. Not a problem, he says, thanks to four years worth of leadership training and character development at the academy. The training prepared him to gather the necessary intelligence and then make the best decision based on that intelligence. Does he always make the right decision? No. But, he does always strive to make the best decision, based on the information available. He gives no apologies for making a decision.

A simple, but not an easy, methodology that I hope to emulate.

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