SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Chief Master Sgt. Jason Tiek enlisted in the Air Force in 1991, and is currently the Command Chief for the 50th Space Wing. He took some time recently to share some of his experience and guidance.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe I blend servant leadership and situational leadership styles. I aspire to meet the nine qualities of servant leadership (value diverse opinions, cultivate trust, develop leaders, help with life issues, encourage Airmen, “sell” instead of “tell,” put Airmen first, think long-term and act with humility), which I believe ties into the coaching style of leadership in situational leadership.
What do you feel your strengths and weaknesses are?
I believe my strengths are my passion for taking care of Airmen and my high energy level. I acknowledge a weakness of mine is my high energy. I am an extrovert, and coupled with my energy level, I tend to not be able to sit still and am always “on the go.” I also have a tendency to take on a lot of tasks, which can have an impact on my time management.
What aspects of leadership are the most important to nurture?
I whole-heartedly believe nurturing effective communication (written/verbal/active listening) is key. In today’s society, verbal communication seems to be the least preferred form of communication versus using electronic means (or just not communicating at all). Building a solid foundation for communication through teaching skills of writing/verbal communication/active listening, discussing barriers that can impact or prevent communication and actively utilizing (practicing) communication in our daily routine are ways to enhance this part of leadership.
How do you handle stress or challenges?
First and foremost, I stay calm and try not to overreact when faced with stress or challenges. I understand I am only human and can only do so much. When I am stressed out or facing tough challenges, I find talking with my supervisor, mentors and family helps tremendously. I also lean on my peer network and my hobbies to blow off “steam.”
How do you prepare junior Airmen for leadership roles?
As I said in our commander’s call back in January, my focus is to get as many professional development opportunities I can to provide the “tools” necessary for our Airmen to enhance their leadership skills. We team with other Front Range bases and private organizations to get programs/professionals here to provide tool-sets, establishing forums for leadership discussions continue mentoring opportunities to meet with Airmen of all ranks to discuss leadership qualities.
What’s some advice that you’ve received that’s stuck with you?
I think one of the best pieces of advice I received was actually very recently. Over my career I had always been told that I needed to balance my work and my life outside of work. What I found was this was always very difficult and I could never truly find the balancing point. While attending a conference, we had the opportunity to hear Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, speak and one of his main points was “harmonizing” your work with your life. It’s realizing both your life and work can coexist together and one isn’t defaulted to the priority over the other. It’s approaching both as co-equals and realizing that you can have both. I will say you have to invest time, effort and planning into harmonizing both and there is no one-size fits all approach to doing it. You just need to identify what’s important in both roles and work through how you can accomplish these things without having to sacrifice; it may be as simple as compromising.
What common trait do you think all successful leaders have?
I think all successful leaders have a knack for identifying (or relating to) the vision for their organization and being able to clearly articulate how they (and their Airmen) fit. They possess the needed skills to be able to interact with superiors, peers and subordinates to focus the organization on what needs to be accomplished in support of the mission.
Is there anything else you would like to add about leadership?
Leadership isn’t easy and no one should think it is something that can be genetically passed along or cloned. Leadership is a skill that is taught and must be practiced on a daily basis. Leadership is also not a bunch of success stories; sometimes the best leadership principles are learned from failures, so don’t be afraid to fail or avoid trying something for the sake of failure.