Give Them Blue Skies

You have many responsibilities as a leader of people. If you look behind you and see followers, remember they have chosen to follow and trust you! Most likely, your actions have inspired them to be better, know better, and do better. If this is true for you, you’ve given them something to believe in! You’ve given them blue skies.

Those who do not follow you simply wait for you to leave the organization. Or worse, they leave the organization before you do. They go searching for leaders who will give them blue skies.

Giving others blue skies doesn’t mean you solve their problems or take on their suffering as your own. It is simply showing you care and sharing your journey through past struggles or problems.

One of your duties as a leader is to give them hope and the truth. As humans, we all experience loss or great personal struggles in our lives. A relationship fails, finances go downhill, we may suffer from PTSD, depression, anxiety, illness, or suffer the loss of a loved one.

The very first time I experienced blue skies leadership was almost 20 years ago in Japan. I was a brand new Airman and was only there a month when my grandfather died. He was the most important person in my life…my inspiration and father figure. He taught me so much about being a true friend and leading others. He shared many stories of blue skies leadership from WWII that resonate with me today as a senior leader in my organization.

When I found out he died, I called my supervisor and told him how I was feeling. He talked with my flight chief and they gave me the last day of our work cycle off.

So with an aching heart, I sat there grieving in my dorm room knowing I didn’t have $2,000 for a plane ticket home to Michigan. A bit later, SSgt Jelinksi, SSgt Poti, SSgt Pemberton, A1C Cain, and A1C Sims came to check on me. My NCOs listened to my stories about Buster and they gave me hope by sharing their own stories and reminding me how proud Buster was of me. I didn’t make it home for the funeral, but my grandmother sent me a note with a photo she had taken in December of 1998 (a few months before he died). She wrote “Grandpa knew you wouldn’t be able to make it home and it’s okay. Seeing you in your blues that day meant a lot to him. He was very proud of you!”

I’ve had Buster on my mind a lot lately as I try to give hope to my troops and friends. They’ve given me so much hope these last few years during my own struggles and often remind me “Girl you’ve got this!” I try to do the same for them…to cheer them on and give them a good example of turning adversity into advantage by having hope and taking action!

This morning, I remembered something Buster told me when I was a teen. He said “Although I didn’t volunteer to serve and was drafted, the greatest blessing of serving the nation were the friends I made. I received lots of hope through friendship and leadership.” Buster was right! Leading others and building friendships both personal and professional have been the greatest blessing in my 20+ years as an Airman.

As a teacher of leadership these past sixteen years, I’ve heard and witnessed countless stories of hope. As a senior leader, so many have brought their struggles to my door, not for my solutions, but for mentorship and support. I notice the blue skies every morning no matter what I face in my personal and professional life.  I strive to give hope to others always.

There are ALWAYS blue skies and a leader must give others blue skies (hope for better days ahead). Most importantly, show your followers the blue skies too…through your personal example. Show them persistence and perseverance. Persistence is the positive energy (your will) to move forward no matter what you face. Perseverance is your endurance to keep going.

I kept going Buster and you were right!

Love & Leadership,

Erin

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