Matthes J506 Leadership Blog

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Experience in the Military

I wanted to write a brief blog about my experiences in the military. I joined the Air National Guard in December of 2000. I was a “weekend warrior” where I was tasked to work one Saturday and one Sunday per month. I did that until my date for basic training came in May of 2001. I never expected what I encountered once I arrived in San Antonio, TX to begin my training. I remember being VERY hungry when we arrived at 7pm to the base. Immediately and non-stop after the point the bus came to a halt, a Training Instructor (TI) was yelling at all of us (about 60 women) to get off of the bus in 5 seconds. Mind you, we had about 3 bags of luggage to carry. At first, it was rather humorous because everyone tripped over each other and were hitting each other with our luggage. It looked like a stampede was going through the aisles of the bus. Needless to say, we did not make it off the bus in 5 seconds with all of our luggage.

From that point on it was always mind over matter for me to make it through and do the best I could to take someone yelling at me constantly and spitting in my face. What was the worst part of it all was the fact that we had to wake up at 4:45am and we went to bed at 9:45pm. That is six hours of sleep and if any of you are like me, it takes at least 45 minutes to go to sleep in the first place, so that left me about 5 hours and 15 minutes to sleep. I also developed a sinus infection mid-way through and had several nights where I didn’t sleep at all. I can recall falling asleep standing up and tipping over while we were marching because I was so tired. It took everything I had not to step out of line and say, “I quit.”

Things got easier as time went on and I learned so many things about my limits and abilities of what I was actually capable of. I think near the end I was able to run 2 miles in a very good time (I don’t remember exact, but I was in the top 5 women), I could do 60 push-ups in 2 minutes, and over 80 situps. I also scored very high on the test we took on the history, policies and procedures of the Air Force. To march at the graduation ceremony was the single greatest thing in the world. I never felt more proud of myself than I did that day. I knew I would someday be able to do other things that were similiar because my father was a Marine and had shared amazing stories about his experiences in the service and they were nothing compared to the little I did.

I went on to technical training which was still at Lackland AFB, in San Antonio. I became a Logistics Journeyman. I served for 3 years in logistics at the Fort Wayne Air National Guard Base. During that time I was deployed to Moron AB, in Seville Spain and I also deployed to Ramstein AB in Kaiserslautern, Germany. I transferred to the Legal Office after the three years was over and I became a Paralegal. I then deployed to an Air Base in Qatar. That was interesting as it was a “Combat Zone” and was capable of being struck by terrorists in the surrounding areas because of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. I learned a lot in my military experiences overseas to include how I can work on a team and accomplish so much to affect so many lives. There were several humanitarian missions that we did to provide food for countries around the world and to know I was a part of that is amazing.


April 26, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

My blog about blogging

This blog is to comment on how we blog in Leadership & Ethics J506. I feel like it would be much more helpful to be able to easily access the blogs for each member in the class from the website. However, you must go through oncourse to select each person’s blog site individually in order to comment on their blogs. I was able to do a search on “J506” or “Simultation” for example which allowed me to retrieve some of the blogs from our class, but it was not a complete list. This made the task of blogging rather cumbersome and time-consuming. I did enjoy it, I wish I would have blogged more, but I guess this site will always be open and a means to keep in contact with members of the class so it was definitely worth it. I felt like several people opened up about personal experiences and that was very insightful. This was truly an enriching experience and I would not eliminate it from the course whatsoever. The method of viewing and commenting on the blogs probably needs a thorough walk-through prior to everyone beginning their blogs for next class. Learning the website took at least 3-4 times visiting the site and is still a little complicating to me.

April 26, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What are the best ways to give feedback?

I have a few questions that have always been on my mind when interacting with managers, subordinates, and co-workers. What are some of the best ways to give feedback without coming off as someone that exhibits traits that can be construed as condescending, uncouth, no tact, rude, overbearing, foul, or too direct. An example is my current employer. He is a young man for what he has accomplished and seems to have it all together. He manages a health care organization and is involved with several different projects all the time to include new acquisitions and a lot of policy driven initiatives that deal with the type of health care we work in. He is constantly looking at the big picture and tries to accomplish too much at once ALL THE TIME. Usually what he demands is too demanding and actually stresses his team to the point where they do not perform well. How do you tell your employer or superior that taking small steps is the better approach. Chapter 8 of our book explains this concept, and maybe I should just show him the book, but what is the best method of delivery in this instance?

April 21, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Top Leadership Qualities I Possess

Some of the leadership qualities I believe I possess are some of the simple ones to include:

1. Positive attitude

2. Give credit where it is due

3. Motivate others constantly

4. Stay on task and complete projects in a timely manner as much as possible

5. Be an advocate for the little guy and / or the ideas that are not always the most popular, but are just as important

6. Loyal

7. Honest no matter how much it hurts

8. Always open to new ideas  because you never know what you’ll learn

April 21, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Leadership Group Activity in Class

I thought this activity we did with the blindfolds to build the figure with the wheels and connectors was very revealing of how someone can communicate as a leader. Jill was our leader and while she was very motivated by trying to involve all of us and lead us in an efficient way, I feel like she forgot some of the most basic things. (No offense Jill!) For one, it slipped her mind to explain to us (the blindfolded followers) what we were building in the first place. I’ll admit, I didn’t think to do that at the beginning either or else I would have asked, but you would assume that anyone that takes part in a project needs to know what the project entails. It was interesting to see that mishap.  

Another thing was that I felt Jill had forgotten to include me at times when instructing us on what to do. Now, this might have been because I was busy putting some pieces together on my own, or it could have been the fact that she simply overlooked me. In either case, Jill did not communicate this to me. I felt like I was not part of the building group at one point. I could see how this could be discouraging for someone that is on a team and by no fault of their own is not included in the decision making process because of budget reasons, seniority reasons, or just because the organizer thinks that person doesn’t have time to be involved.

This was definitely eye-opening (no pun intended) to see what a good leader must do to prepare their team to succeed in any new project. I’m not sure how I would have done anything different than Jill, but now I feel like I will personally take on a whole new approach when talking to co-workers and project members to tackle a project.

April 20, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Thoughts on Economy

I just wanted to post some of my comments and thoughts on the economy right now. The recent unethical behavior in the financial services industry that has crippled our economy through hundreds of millions of people losing their hard earned monies and retirement benefits has made me very uneasy and worried about our future. Yes, SOX was passed and other regulations that make it more difficult for a person (company) to be corrupt, but really, what is the motivation to be ethical  when you see so many others acting in an unethical way. Well, for educated individuals like ourselves, it is easy to see why we should be ethical and that is because it is the right thing to do. For the rest of the population that continuously watches unethical behavior occur and those unethical individuals reap the benefits, whether in the short term or long term, it is hard to convince the majority not to do the same thing. I’ll tell you that at times I am conflicted in the way I feel about the choices I should make and it’s not that I think about behaving unethically, it’s the opposite where I want to remain guarded to the point where I’m no longer a participant to help change the way things are, but I become a bystander. It sounds awfully sad to think that I will not make an impact and change the opinion of some minds around me that choose to act in a certain way, but it is difficult when convincing someone not to do something is a hard thing to do because they cannot see the reason why.

      Really I believe that there needs to be tighter enforcement of the law and those that act in an unethical way whether it involves money or other actions like falsifying documents, should be punished to the maximum. Especially in a time like this where all you see are people trying to scam others and are getting away with it. An example of an appalling thing I saw recently was the case of individuals making millions by promising to train people to work from home with a kit that costs $32 and then instead of mailing the person a kit, the person receives nothing. I saw this on the show 20/20 and the people that do it are making millions of dollars. There are a lot of opportunities for this kind of behavior to occur and it does not seem like there is enough enforcement to guard against it.

April 20, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Change Simulation Project

The change simulation project was actually quite interesting. The ability to cover so much ground in learning what several employees thought was very insightful.  This made deciding the tough decisions a little more fun. This isn’t the case most of the time. Employees are usually tight-lipped about their true feelings in the workplace, which can make it challenging to truly understand where issues are and how to address them appropriately.

Working with my team was fun too. We all had our differences of opinion of what to do and what not to do. It was actually really fun to see what each of us thought and how we would come to conclusions about what to do in a situation. Overall, no one person took blame for any decision and we were very efficient at “sharing” the responsibility of the changes to put into effect.

Actually having that power, as fake as it was, was exhilarating. I believe that being in a position to make the tough decisions is one I would enjoy. Further, I realize any decision you make has its consequences and hopefully you have the experience behind you to know how best to control what occurs after you institute change in your business. 

I have found that in my current job, there are several things you can do to make changes – however small. One is having an excellent attitude when you are at work and also when you have been instructed to do something. Another way a person can begin change in an organization is to lead by example.  This includes some actions such as coming in early or leaving late as well as volunteering to assist in projects that others are doing. This is a big one in my office where a lot of the top level business administration and policy making occurs. As with most things, there will sometimes be resistance. Once you understand that you cannot force anyone to do anything they don’t want to do, you learn that to get things done you sometimes have to do them yourself as well as “show” why others should help. For me, this has included showing people a larger view of the situation to include being grateful they have a job to do, versus not. This usually brings the situation back into perspective and they realize that working as a team is good for everyone especially when the some things that change are out of your control.

March 23, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Good Vs Bad Manager / Leader Qualities

The best manager I had displayed these qualities:

Responsive to my needs. Cared about the work I did and how I did it. Would take the time to explain how I should perform my work, but would also give me space to perform. Appreciated me taking the initiative to perform my work better. Asked if I ever needed assistance with anything all the time. If there was an issue with any work I performed, my manager would explain what I could improve upon. Challenged me to perform more work when it was necessary. Developed my leadership skills and allowed me to train others in the work I performed. Always respectful and knowledgeable about what direction we needed to take in order to get our work done.

The worst manager I had displayed these qualities:

Did not apply the same “rules” to all employees, when they should have. Disrespectful. Did not appreciate when employees would perform more work if it meant more work for them, no matter who it benefited. Very difficult to communicate with. Bad at time management. Contradicted themselves when it came to explaining procedures. Extremely unorganized. Poor response time to questions asked. Rude at times and had a negative outlook at work.  Would not challenge employees.

January 26, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Goals & Learning Objectives

This capstone course involves the analyses of businesses and the ethical actions they take. We are going to examine why certain companies have succeeded at practicing the highest of ethical standards while others have failed to grasp the importance of doing so in their companies. We hope overall that the companies with the highest ethical standards are the ones that have been more successful, however, I’m sure as we explore the topic, we will see that good ethics does not automatically translate into successful company. Now, in understanding that, one of my goals for this course is to better understand the legal ramifications of what occurs when companies chose not to adopt ethical practices in their business especially when the business is public or private, and affects a large percentage of the public. Like we have seen with the downfall of Corporations like Enron and Worldcom, unethical actions can cause the demise of a company when the accounting of finances is deceptive. What I would like to learn is how we can better manage and account for unethical behavior in public and private business. The government is an example of how an organization in the public sector can perform unethically. I believe that when the government in the U.S. fails to ensure the highest of ethical standards in its practice over the public, it is much easier for other public and private sector businesses to feel that they do not have to adhere to ethical standards because it’s just easier not to. When the bodies of power decide to enforce laws and regulations that businesses feel are ethical and are transparent to any and all business, public or private, then we will see a shift in how business can be performed ethically. Until that happens, I would like to learn exactly what other safe guards are in place to ensure the highest of ethical standards are being practiced by most public and private businesses. Also, I would like to learn the ways I can directly contribute as a citizen or employee of a company to increase the likelihood of ethical standards being followed by businesses.

January 19, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

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January 19, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment