Chief’s Corner: CMSgt. Michael J. Rozneck

  • Published
  • By CMSgt. Michael Rozneck
  • Space Delta 8 - Satellite Communication & Navigational Warfare

Interacting with military members, I am often asked, "Is the United States Space Force a real military branch?" I love to respond with a quote from General George S. Patton: "No [one] ever won a war by going out and dying for his country. He won by making some other [individual] die for his country." I then go on to explain the competitive advantage space assets like Military Satellite Communications (MILSATCOM) and Global Positioning Satellites (GPS) provide and how they are key to ensuring our service members come home and our enemies do not. So yes, the USSF is a real military branch of service!

Everyone has their own leadership style, and many would respond differently to this question than I do. Some leaders would explain the history of warfare and how space is integrated with all aspects of the joint military force. Other leaders may choose to describe those space assets integral and how they affect our daily way of life globally and emphasize the importance of protecting these assets. You can look at any military or civilian leader, past or present, and you’ll see how no two are exactly alike. Every leader differs in how they organize their people, their resources, and their assets throughout the performance of their duties.

I say all this to point out how you are your own unique leader and stress the importance of capitalizing on that.

I consider myself a compassionate, yet blunt leader and I’d like to share a few tips on leadership. These are tips I’ve learned throughout my experiences, which has developed my own style of leadership.

I think of compassionate, yet blunt leadership as someone who is straight to the point, but also has the desire to improve the situation, always remaining conscious of other's distresses.

I want to clarify being blunt does not mean being unprofessional, rude, or disregarding your emotional intelligence. Nor can you hug it out with compassion until the problem or situation fixes itself. I find both leadership approaches can co-exist simultaneously, and if balanced properly can be refreshing to those you lead.

The three tips I recommend and try to use within my own leadership are to be authentic to yourself, be down-to-earth, and select a course of action.

Be authentic. Individuals are intelligent and will see through a disingenuous person who doesn't believe in what they are saying. You will lose credibility if you wear a fake face when talking to someone, tackling a problem, or leading an organization. Remaining authentic to yourself rather than tailoring your demeanor based on who you are talking to, or the context of the conversation will create trust. Authenticity is often seen as a weakness, but I find it is instead a strength. This is because those you lead will truly know you are being honest about a situation. This will ultimately result in meaningful dialog between your people and your organization. People rarely want to speak with leaders they feel are not listening to them. If this becomes the case those people will only tell their leader what they think their leader wants to hear. Authenticity can go a long way to breaking down these communication barriers and fostering trust between you and those you lead.

On a similar note, being a compassionate, blunt leader without practicality or being down-to-earth will have your people perceiving you as a jerk. Or worse, someone who doesn't understand what they are going through. Being practical allows leaders to properly manage expectations identifying results based on their team's accomplishments, instead of unrealistic goals.

Being practical and understanding what each person in your organization can contribute will allow for better alignment in accomplishing the mission. However, this doesn't mean lowering the standard for some and making others do more work. This is where some blunt feedback may be needed if a portion of your team is underperforming.

With all this said, authenticity and practicality can be worthless without a plan to create tangible outcomes and solutions for your team. If you do not have a course of action to resolve a concern, then all the communication will have little effect on moving the mission, situation, or personnel forward.

This means guiding someone to solve their own problems or situations by asking strategic questions to help them along until they come to the solution.

My challenge for you is to identify what leadership style you have and take steps to develop it. We all have our own and unique leadership skills, but being authentic, down-to-earth, and action orientated are just a few skills that can help grow you as a leader. Our people, mission, and service deserve our best leaders.  I advise you to think of all the past leaders you've encountered, the good, the bad, and draw from their leadership styles to identify your own and start developing it to be the best it can be.