Since starting my Doctorate program, I have had the opportunity to reflect on the 8P concept I proposed in my book “The First Principles” and apply each of the 8Ps. Each concept is important in a program that taxes your time, patience, and thinking. One way a researcher understands how concepts or constructs go from theory to application is by researching, observation, and testing. I had the great opportunity to observe the 8Ps in Action.
The 8Ps and the 4 Stars
During my career, I had the honor and privilege to be the Command Senior Enlisted Leader for four great leaders; two were 4-Star Generals, and two became
4-Star Generals. Each of them displayed certain characteristics of the 8P Focus.
General C. Robert Kehler = Preparation and Planning
General Kehler’s focus was on planning and preparation; his strengths were foresight and global awareness. I first met General Kehler when he assumed command of Air Force Space Command in October 2007. At the time, I was serving as the 14th Air Force and Joint Functional Component Command for Space Command Chief.
During his briefing to the Commanders and Senior Enlisted Leaders, he detailed his concern about the uncertainty and complexity of today’s battle space and the future challenges for the Space environment. He challenged the Commanders and Senior Enlisted to begin thinking, planning and preparing how the command could meet the uncertainties of a challenging future.
In January 2011, General Kehler assumed command of USSTRATCOM where I had the opportunity to be his Command Senior Enlisted Leader. As he did at Air Force Space Command, he held a briefing for the Commanders and Senior Enlisted Leaders after he assumed command. One of his key focus areas, and eventually a command priority, was to prepare for the uncertainty and complexity of the national security landscape. He challenged those present to think how USSTRATCOM and its Unified Command Plan missions would operate in an environment of persistent conflict, complexity, and uncertainty that stretched across all warfighting domains of air, sea, land, space, and cyberspace.
General Kehler’s focus was on planning and preparing the Command by developing our people, processes, and programs to meet unexpected challenges of the future. We needed to be flexible, adaptive, and collaborative in our thinking and operations to deal with surprise and to meet the uncertainties of tomorrow’s unforeseen problems.
General Kevin P. Chilton = Priorities and People
General Chilton’s focus was on mission priority and people, and his strengths were alliance and relationship building, character authenticity, and critical thinking. General Chilton’s leadership strategy was through mission prioritization. His focus was on prioritization of USSTRATCOM Unified Command Plan missions to ensure every person assigned knew their importance and priority. He established his mission priorities based on the importance of the assigned mission to National Security.
Throughout his time as the commander, he would state, “If everything is important, then nothing is important.” By setting priorities for the command, everyone knew what was important and the order of precedence. When briefing others about his priorities, he would talk about how in his role as the Commander of USSTRATCOM he had to juggle several missions daily, but only one mission, the nuclear mission, would have grave damage upon the National Security of the Nation. The nuclear mission was the #1 priority for USSTRATCOM.
Another key priority for General Chilton was people. General Chilton was an “enlisted persons general”. From January through December of 2009, United States Strategic Command celebrated the “Year of the Enlisted Global Warfighter” and the “Global Warrior” enlisted force development program to focus on the history, heritage, and mission of Strategic Air Command and United States Strategic Command and the contributions of the enlisted force in its missions. It was an important initiative for recognizing the enlisted force and the contributions they provided United States Strategic Command.
In his letter recognizing the year, he stated: “Every enlisted Soldier, Sailor, Marine, and Airman is critical to mission success. It is imperative that our enlisted warriors continue to be the capable, credible, and faithful men and women America has come to expect. I expect leaders at all levels to embrace these two programs and encourage participation by the enlisted personnel in your work areas.”
General Carlton “Dewey” Everhart = Passion and Performance
General Everhart was a leader full of passion for life and people, and his strengths were an inspiration, encouragement, and developing leaders.
I had the opportunity to work for, then Colonel Everhart, at Altus Air Force Base when he assumed command in September of 2005. Under his leadership, two unique talent development programs–Airmen’s Time and Enlisted Force Development–were highly successful and were emulated by the Air Force.
Airmen’s Time produced a new focus on total force professional and leadership development of the officer and civilian workforce resulting in a consolidated Warrior Professional Development Center. The leadership philosophy change produced outcomes that validated the Airmen’s Time development process. It changed from an individual leadership development focus to a collective leadership development focus.
In the end, Airmen’s Time: The Altus Concept was a highly successful journey. It developed a strong organizational culture based on core values, teamwork, diversity, respect, leadership development, and transformational change.
It built a culture of innovation, teamwork, and growth that spread throughout the wing and developed leaders for the future. It developed a strong outcomes-focused performance culture within all organizations and fostered a leadership culture that crossed group boundaries and established a strong team culture.
General William Shelton = Persistence and Perseverance
General Shelton was a leader of persistence and perseverance, and his strengths were the focused purpose and strategic vision. General Shelton hired me as the 14th Air Force Command Chief as I was returning to the United States from my year assignment to the Middle East.
I had the unique opportunity to see his vision become a reality as he built the Joint Space Operations Center (JSPOC) into a consolidated operational space command and control and space situational awareness center.
I arrived after the JSPOC had relocated to a new facility, but just in time for the move of the 1st Space Control Squadron and Unified Space Vault from Cheyenne Mountain to the JSPOC. As General Shelton’s vison took shape, it provided an integrated space capability for the Nation and the Warfighter.
Despite some obstacles, he championed the strengths of the net-centric and space tracking capabilities of the JSPOC to operate in the space domain. Under his leadership, dogged determination, and drive, he built a first-rate space operations center that is vital to understanding the space environment, critical to the warfighter and is a National asset.
Leadership is complex and demanding, so you must prepare yourself mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally to be an Unstoppable Leader.
To lead with focus, clarity, and intentionality means you need to remove ambiguity and uncertainty by establishing clear goals, clear objectives, a clear strategy, and clear tactics. Clarity and focus provide you the decision-making ability to make critical and timely decisions in times of chaos and crisis.