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Thread: "I'd Have a Beer With Him"

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    Default "I'd Have a Beer With Him"

    Many political analysts have pointed to John Kerry's 2004 Presidential loss as testament to his inability to relate to the "average" American. He was ridiculed for having tailored jeans; the picture of him catching a football with all the grace of a mushroom made the rounds on the Internet; he was seen as rich and stately. In comparison, George W. Bush was one who many could relate to despite his unpopularity on many issues. Family Guy parodied the idiocy of the "undecided voters" with a skit in which a suave-but-moronic politician in a debate answers a question in the most stupid of ways but does so in manner that appealed to people, with one guy saying "Oh yeah I'm voting for him, I'd have a beer with him!"

    For all of John Kerry's advantages in light of Bush's failings, George W. Bush won the election and served another four years.

    In the Air Force, how many people do you know that are absolute experts in their field or pictures of integrity yet they simply do not get the recognition or respect they deserve from their peers and leadership because their peers and leadership simply cannot relate to them? They could not see themselves "Having a beer with them".

    How far does personality and compatibility go in the Air Force when stacked against technical expertise and sticking to the core values? How effective can a leader be who, while possessing all the things that the Air Force looks for "by the books", that leader lacks the inability to appeal to his subordinates, peers, and supervisors?

    How fair - or unfair - is it that someone, while not being as "straight arrow" as our mentioned example, is someone who everyone can kick-back with at the intramural softball game; someone who can be "one of the guys" and down a case of beer at the picnic or at a house party; the kind of guy who the commander or Chief calls "Bob" instead of "MSgt Smith"?

    Do you want a leader who is by the book and above reproach?

    Or do you want a leader who you could have a beer with?

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    Default Re: "I'd Have a Beer With Him"

    There is a lot of debate in academic circles on the importance of charisma to be an effective leader.

    Personally, I think it is a trait that should be developed to the greatest extent possible; however, charisma never trumps ethics.

    The following is a quote from a columnist for the UK Guardian that rings true in my opinion.

    “Charismatic leaders who are high on ethical orientation have better workplace environments with reduced interpersonal and workplace deviance. This all makes sense because leaders are role models; how they act cascades through the organization.”

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    Default Re: "I'd Have a Beer With Him"

    Quote Originally Posted by BOSS302 View Post

    Do you want a leader who is by the book and above reproach?

    Or do you want a leader who you could have a beer with?
    I want a leader who has the right balance of both attributes.

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    Default Re: "I'd Have a Beer With Him"

    @Absinthe Anecdote

    How often do you see or hear of charisma trumping ethics and knowledge? What do you say of the photogenic male TSgt who is shit at his AFSC but puts in plenty of face-time with extracurricular events and intramural events, who presents himself as a "Man's Man" and receives the grace & favor of leadership?

    You can become a MSgt by hitting the books; it takes something more to make SMSgt and Chief. Given the current view that a lot hold of many "E-9s" and Command Chiefs, is the Air Force promoting too much charisma and not enough substance?

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    Default Re: "I'd Have a Beer With Him"

    Quote Originally Posted by BOSS302 View Post
    @Absinthe Anecdote

    How often do you see or hear of charisma trumping ethics and knowledge? What do you say of the photogenic male TSgt who is shit at his AFSC but puts in plenty of face-time with extracurricular events and intramural events, who presents himself as a "Man's Man" and receives the grace & favor of leadership?

    You can become a MSgt by hitting the books; it takes something more to make SMSgt and Chief. Given the current view that a lot hold of many "E-9s" and Command Chiefs, is the Air Force promoting too much charisma and not enough substance?
    I hear you but I never claimed that life is fair.

    Like I said, charisma never trumps ethics in a leader, I believe the vast majority people agree with that statement. Unfortunately, some people are bamboozled by charismatic bullshit artists. Sometimes it catches up with them sometimes it doesnít.

    That isnít only in the Air Force, my friend; the rest of the world operates the same way.

    In the Air Force sometimes our promotion system provides an arena for bull-shitters to excel but donít let it get you down. Get in there and compete and get the best of the phonies when you can.

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    Default Re: "I'd Have a Beer With Him"

    Quote Originally Posted by Absinthe Anecdote View Post
    I hear you but I never claimed that life is fair.

    Like I said, charisma never trumps ethics in a leader, I believe the vast majority people agree with that statement. Unfortunately, some people are bamboozled by charismatic bullshit artists. Sometimes it catches up with them sometimes it doesn’t.

    That isn’t only in the Air Force, my friend; the rest of the world operates the same way.

    In the Air Force sometimes our promotion system provides an arena for bull-shitters to excel but don’t let it get you down. Get in there and compete and get the best of the phonies when you can.
    Interesting.

    The catalyst for this post is a situation I found myself observing at my new base. A SSgt and a MSgt. Both have physical profiles due to ailments.

    One is your typical "good ol boy" who, while being on profile, still plays intramural sports. He's also the face that one would see at just about any/all "5/6" style events. You would "have a beer with him". I deployed with him twice and am fully aware of his ability to "work a crowd".

    The other is a by-the-book guy who, while honorable and a true expert in his job, has the personality of a celery stick. He has zero support from leadership in regards to PT issues, is questioned constantly about his off-duty activities (ex., "Why are you doing that if you're on a profile on-duty?"), and is suffering in his Performance Report as a result.

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    Default Re: "I'd Have a Beer With Him"

    Quote Originally Posted by BOSS302 View Post
    Interesting.

    The catalyst for this post is a situation I found myself observing at my new base. A SSgt and a MSgt. Both have physical profiles due to ailments.

    One is your typical "good ol boy" who, while being on profile, still plays intramural sports. He's also the face that one would see at just about any/all "5/6" style events. You would "have a beer with him". I deployed with him twice and am fully aware of his ability to "work a crowd".

    The other is a by-the-book guy who, while honorable and a true expert in his job, has the personality of a celery stick. He has zero support from leadership in regards to PT issues, is questioned constantly about his off-duty activities (ex., "Why are you doing that if you're on a profile on-duty?"), and is suffering in his Performance Report as a result.
    Although the scope of this article is a little different from the scenario you gave, it embodies some of the same basic principles of human behavior we were discussing. You might enjoy reading it.

    Excerpt below:

    Charisma dilutes judgment: There are only three ways to influence others: force, reason, or charm. Whereas force and reason are rational (even when we are "forced" to do something, we obey for a good reason) charm is not. Charm is based on emotional manipulation and, as such, it has the ability to trump any rational assessment and bias our views.

    Read more at: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/11/the_..._charisma.html

    Perhaps charisma does trump ethics?

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    Default Re: "I'd Have a Beer With Him"

    Being one of those with a "celery stick personality", I will admit my bias and say that sometimes it seems that "the boys club" is how the military really works. However, thinking about it objectively, I never really got "held back" by not being one of those charismatic types, "have a beer with 'em" kind of guys.

    In my experience, the "have a beer" types fell into 2 groups...those with ethics and those without. It was the ones without that chapped my ass. They always had an angle, a play, a hip-pocket card, or a relationship to "work" and keep themselves on top, even when they didn't deserve or earn it. They were also the people that I did everything in my power to steer clear of, because they would've screwed me over given the chance.

    It always seemed to me that if they put half the effort into actually doing their job as they did "working the system" they would have been far better off.

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    Default Re: "I'd Have a Beer With Him"

    Interesting reading. I started to see some of this coming about when I retired back in 1988. The higher rank NCOs who had crossed trained knew less than some of the E-3's but were not held accountable. I had my ass royally reamed when I tried to have a E-8 demoted because he was not proficient in his AFSC even though the reg clearly stated to hold the grade in that AFSC one had to be proficient. To much ass kissing but apparently it works in way to many cases or at least it appears that way from what I read here. I hope the trend turns and proficiency becomes the standard again but with the end of the cold war I don't see that happening.

    Always,
    Wildman
    Last edited by wildman; 07-28-2013 at 03:16 PM.
    The price of freedom is not free.

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    Default Re: "I'd Have a Beer With Him"

    Part of the problem is the environment of hypocrisy that the AF not only creates but encourages within its ranks by those that hold key positions. Having the charisma of a used car salesman will get you far, however doing what is right even when no one is looking will have you stagnating at MSgt for the remainder of your career. You might be told by your leadership that there are way too many 5's coming out of your section and that we are watering down EPR's, but how many within your leadership received less than a 5 in their last 5 EPR's? Or your Superintendent failed a PT test but has a pass on top and receives a 5 but SSgt XX earned himself a 4 for the same thing. These things happen all the time, self preservation is most evident at the top of the pyramid. Just look at the haircut thread for more examples.

    We were told the PT program was about health, but other than a be fit class after a fail there is no other type of health improvement efforts put forth. I believe that trying to find an individual identity as a service has created a monster problem. Our end product is to kill bad guys, yet none of our focus, even in time of war, is on killing bad guys. It's about public image and self preservation, and how comfortable we can make ourselves in retirement.
    Never. Let there be no misunderstanding...I am the master baiter around here. --BRUWIN

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