Best Advice Received: "How will you measure success - Rank or Thanks?"
The best advice I received was upon completing RAF College Cranwell Initial Officer Training. The question posed to me was, "How will you measure success - Rank or Thanks?" This made me realize that while we are often programmed to measure success by promotions and grades, true success lies in the appreciation and support of those around us. It taught me that by earning the respect and gratitude of others, I could achieve more and have long-lasting impact. Even after moving on from old units, I've encountered team members who still speak highly of my leadership compared to their current managers. Empowering teams and focusing on the organization's goals, rather than personal recognition, has proven to be a worthwhile and successful approach. It may require more effort and recognition might not always come immediately, but in the end, it is always rewarding.
Advice for New Leaders: Listen, Understand, and Support
For new leaders, my advice is to actively listen to your team members and immerse yourself in their work. Spend time on the shop floor, asking questions about how things work, the challenges they face, and how you can assist them in delivering their best. Often, junior leaders are eager to reinvent the wheel, but I have learned from experience that it is more effective to listen, identify the issues, and provide support to get things back on track. In my earlier years as a junior officer, I made the mistake of pushing for reforms without fully understanding the implications, which ultimately strained working relationships and hindered effectiveness.
Successes & Lessons Learned: Immersion, Adaptability, and Team Creation
One of my greatest successes has been immersing myself with the teams and gaining firsthand knowledge of their work, challenges, and triumphs. Adopting a "Boss at the bottom" approach, I experienced the realities of the business from the ground level. I constantly asked questions, delved into past experiences, and encouraged a culture of sharing ideas. In my previous role overseeing infrastructure and accommodation, I faced the challenge of being in multiple places at once. To address this, I created specialized teams to handle different aspects of the work. This allowed us to effectively manage the day-to-day operations, demonstrate value for money, and improve the overall experience for personnel. The teams' resilience during the Covid period showcased the importance of adaptability and common goals. If we hadn't created these teams, I would have been a single point of failure and unable to fulfill my role or support my boss during his absence. This experience taught me the importance of tailoring plans to each unique situation, considering location and available resources. It reinforced the value of returning to the drawing board and planning accordingly.
Michael Masters is an accomplished Station Executive Officer with a distinguished background in the Royal Air Force (RAF). With expertise in managing critical operations, he ensures smooth functioning and resilience of RAF stations. Holding an MSc is in High Performance Sports Coaching and BEng in Aeronautical Engineering, Michael navigates complex challenges with ease. As a skilled strategic leader, he adeptly oversees the seamless execution of daily operations, efficiently allocates resources, expertly manages personnel, and implements robust protocols to ensure operational readiness. His commitment to business continuity drives him to identify vulnerabilities, assess risks, and establish comprehensive contingency plans. As a certified business continuity professional (CBCI), Michael remains informed about best practices, sharing insights at industry events. His exceptional leadership and commitment to operational resilience contribute to the RAF's success.