Jeff Hinrichs is a Colonel in the United States Air Force Reserve with 20 years of experience leading planning, development, change, and operations.
Q. What does the word “leadership” mean to you?
A. Be genuine and truly caring about our teams and help mold and inspire them toward a common goal. Be careful to not fake it; people can usually tell. Faking stifles creativity and performance. It strikes much deeper, breaks bonds of trust, and leaves teams bitter, frustrated, and ultimately unsuccessful.
Q. Who were the most influential leaders you’ve had during your career?
A. There have been several. My philosophy teacher at the academy was the first to challenge me to think critically. At the mid-point of my career, I was fortunate enough to be mentored—without her knowing it—by a near-peer who taught some administrative management lessons. These were key record management processes within the Air Force Reserves. More recently, a near peer of mine challenged me to be a better “leader developing leaders,” causing me to reflect more on what I’ve learned throughout the years of our operational and academic experiences and to share that with my teams. The point here is that these leaders probably do not know I think of them as influential, which, in itself, makes them influential.
Q. If you had one piece of advice for training professionals who want to better influence and affect audiences, what would it be?
A. Perhaps it’s not one piece of advice, but knowing your audiences before your sessions will help you establish immediate rapport and credibility. Being personable and genuine makes this easier, but can only go so far. Developing mutually understood standards or objectives help focus the sessions and provide a marker against which the audience can be measured. Finally, recognize achievement—whether it’s informally or formally―during an event or by sending a note to the individual’s home office supervisor.
This is not all too different from life in the military where I fortunately experienced the majority of my professional growth. We had to adapt to change, new audiences, and new situations. We had to instantly build trust. Throughout our transitions, we were held to a shared set of values and standards. My most successful teams recognized achievement against these standards, which because they were well understood, made it clear what constituted superior work. This instilled pride and drove performance.
ASTD Field Editor Shelley Gaynes is the owner of Gee Wiz, a provider of management training, coaching, and assessment services. She is on the lookout for great articles, especially in the areas of sales, customer service, or marketing; 1.678.441.9449; email@example.com.