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News > Commentary - Leaders are readers!
Leaders are readers!

Posted 10/28/2010   Updated 10/28/2010 Email story   Print story


Commentary by Col. Mike Hornitschek
375th Air Mobility Wing commander

10/28/2010 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill.  -- "Other than religion, sex, and politics, leadership may be the most discussed subject in the world. The reason is very simple -without effective leadership, very little happens; with effective leadership, anything can happen."

That's the opening statement in the book, "Exceeding Expectations," written by retired Gen. Bill Looney, a very accomplished leader who served in the Air Force for 40 years. His legacy is still felt throughout the Air Force, and he shares some of his experiences that illustrate and validate the characteristics of a great leader.

He can speak to that issue because he is a recognized leader, not just by the fact that he rose to the top rank in the service, but because of how successful those around him were when he led the charge. We can learn a lot from someone like him, such as behaving with humility and how that serves to strengthen our team or how great leaders will take personal risks for the people they believe in.

There are numerous anecdotes in his book that illustrate his points and, most importantly, inspire me to focus on areas for fine tuning. Reading books by those who not only create success, but also, as General Looney phrases it, "exceed expectations," is something prudent for anyone wishing to continue their professional development to undertake. While there are many things that demand our attention, I find there are moments where there is a lull in activity or I have a few minutes between appointments, and it's a perfect time to pull out a book and read even just a few paragraphs.

Leaders are readers and that's why I am sharing and discussing this book with the 375th leadership team. We will discuss this book in wing leadership forums, and I encourage anyone else interested in this or any other leadership book to do the same within your own sphere of influence. Copies of this book will be floating around your wing leadership offices and at the base library as well. It's also available for individual purchase via hardcopy or electronically through most well known distribution stores.

This is just the beginning of one aspect of our Leadership University journey together. We should all be familiar with the Chief of Staff's reading list found on the Air Force public website, and we can use that as a great starting point as we look for professional development opportunities. I'll also be adding my own recommended listings on the Scott AFB public site for easy access and will engage in discussions with you on my Facebook page to see what you liked/learned from the selected readings.

I'll be choosing a book periodically and adding that to the reading list, but I am also interested in the books you've read and enjoyed. Please feel free to share those with me so we can keep this a robust forum for a cross flow of ideas and lessons learned.

The final thoughts of General Looney include the following statement: "For a leader to exceed expectations, it doesn't require any special physical attributes, extraordinary level of intelligence or unique artistic skill. What it does require is someone who has a vision of where to take an organization and also how to take care of the workers while on this journey." I would also submit that it takes someone dedicated to a continuous process of improvement both for him or herself and the organizations he or she leads. Part of that process improvement can be accomplished by learning from the best of the best--as found in the pages of General Looney's book. I'm sure you'll enjoy reading the book as much as I's a quick read with some funny and profound moments. I'll be interested to hear your thoughts, so happy reading!

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