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NEWS | Jan. 18, 2008

One New Year's Resolution You Can Do

By Lt. Col. Catherine Reardon 316th Wing Public Affairs chief

It's the start of a new year. Most of us make resolutions to eat better, exercise more, or work towards our next degree. I'm curious though to know how many of us made a resolution to get to know those we serve with better. 

Abraham Lincoln, our 16th President, was a great leader because he stood for what was right, honest and self-evident. But did you know that one of his main principles of leadership was to "get out of the office and circulate among the troops?" It was. Lincoln made it a priority to get out among the troops visiting Fredericksburg, Antietam and Chancellorsville to get a better handle on the war effort. 

In his book, Lincoln on Leadership, Donald T. Phillips lists nine principles that Lincoln applied to leading people and that are still applicable for us to use today. These principles include: 

* Explain yourself in writing and offer advice on how to solve problems. 

* It is important that people know you come among them without fear. 

* Seek casual contact with your subordinates. It is as meaningful as a formal gathering, if not more so. 

* Don't often decline to see people who call on you. 

* Take public opinion baths. 

* Be the very embodiment of good temper and affability. 

* Remember, everyone likes a compliment. 

* If your subordinates can stand it, so can you. Set a good example. 

* You must seek and require access to reliable and up-to-date information. 

These principles apply today, especially in the email world we now live in. It is so easy to send someone an email telling them what do, then telling them to do it over, etc. It is very easy as supervisors and commanders to get "locked in the ivory tower" of our offices and to command through the network. However, every good boss knows that you must get out among your people and let them see you and get to know you as you learn about them. 

Lincoln wrote in 1861 that he relieved General John Fremont from his command in Missouri because "his cardinal mistake is that he isolates himself, and allows nobody to see him; and by which he does not know what is going on in the very matter he is dealing with." That quote could apply to any number of people that have served in the military, even today. 

Start 2008 off right, apply Lincoln's principle of 'get out of the office and circulate among the troops' and you'll begin to see the difference right away. It's also one resolution that's really easy to keep all year long!