Until 1967, the United States was losing the air war in Vietnam. It was a time period referred to as the “suck”. With all the technological advancements until then, the US Air Force had experienced heavy casualties. The list of reasons is long, but it can be summarized in the nickname for one of the airplanes – The Great Smoking Thunderhog.
As casualties mounted, the inevitable drop in morale followed. As in any organization, it takes true leadership to correct a course that negatively impacts morale. Fortunately, for the men in the 8th tactical fighter wing, they got it in late 1966 in the form of Colonel Robin Olds. Colonel Olds was a down-to-earth servant leader. A double ace after World War II, he was given command in September 1966. Upon landing in Vietnam, he placed himself on the flight roster as a rookie pilot. He immersed himself with those under his command by talking to everybody, from Generals to the Fuel Specialists, asking more questions of them than barking orders. He used what he learned during the time he took to interact with everyone under his command to devise Operation Bolo. Executed on January 2, 1967, it was a critical inflection point in the war, giving the United States air superiority over Vietnam, saving hundreds, if not thousands of lives.
In times of crisis, like what we are currently living through as a result of the Covid-19 shutdown, leadership is critical. Can you sense the drop in general morale?
In business, it’s often assumed that leaders know exactly what to do. Often, that is not the case. At times, it’s appropriate to ask questions and seek guidance from others before formulating a game plan. If you have a plan, it’s often best to get an external perspective on it.
As the Covid-19 restrictions begin to relax, not only do leaders have to open responsibly, but a long term strategic plan is needed to thrive post-Covid. Thriving involves reengaging with employees from an HR and benefits perspective, which may not have occurred in the past due to lack of desire or resources. The silver lining of what we are living through is that many of us have been given a reset button, allowing us to correct a lot of stagnant aspects of our HR operations. Think of it as your organization’s opportunity to emerge from your own “suck”.
I don’t think anyone has all the answers.
In response to this, we have organized a virtual roundtable discussion where business owners can come together in a relaxed atmosphere and share ideas, ask questions, and get outside thoughts on their plans moving forward as it relates to human resources.