Permission To Take Off

When I was working at a large retail store one summer during college (think red bull’s-eye), one of my supervisors told me everything from her pants size (12) to the dirty details of her messy divorce. Apparently I have a face that says, “tell me everything.” 

“Susan,” on the other hand, had an ex-husband whose face said “don’t tell me anything.”

While I knew her entire life history, Susan knew nothing about me. Perhaps this was for the best, as she was—to put it kindly—a hot mess. But it also gave the impression that she didn’t really care about me—she just wanted someone to talk at.

According to Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour, who will be presenting as a Thought Leader at the 2013 NAA Education Conference & Exposition, June 19-22 in San Diego, leaders and managers must do a better job of engaging their employees if they want them to climb the ranks and succeed.

“Simply put, know your people,” says Armour, who became the United States Marine Corps’ first African-American female pilot—and, shortly thereafter, combat pilot—in a record-breaking three years. “When the General used to come down to the flight line and talk to the privates, we called it Star Power. When the General actually remembered that service member’s name and asked about their family and kids, it left an impression. At that point, it was obvious he actually cared.

“That’s what people want from leadership; to feel valued, listened to and to know we care. That we are professional and know our stuff is great, but if you want to build a team that will loyally follow you into battle, show them how you care and they will take care of you! Engagement comes from the inside out and most of the time it starts at the top.”

It does not include how much money you’re due in alimony.

Armour says such engagement can help everyone achieve her Zero to Breakthrough Success Model®—the key of which is the Breakthrough Mentality of refusing to settle, even in the smallest of moments, and demanding a breakthrough life.

With all the challenges that are happening right now, how individuals respond versus how they react is the key and the power of this mindset, Armour says. Breakthroughs aren’t about the big moments. They come from committed consistent action over time, even in the seemingly small moments of life.

Or in seemingly small summers, when you’re stuck in a red polo, guiding customers to the scrapbook aisle.

Armour challenges leaders to train their employees and give them the opportunity to excel and take on more responsibility. It is only through access and exposure to training, education and leadership that people can experience the tangibility of possibility, Armour says.

“The concept of “One Mission, One Goal, One Team®” is essential,” Armour says. “We can’t do it by ourselves. The sooner we learn how to engage each other in a way that promotes collaboration, creativity and innovation, we’re winning. You have permission to engage.”

Goose, Maverick, FlyGirl—let’s go, boys (and girl).

For more, check out “Catch the Wave” in the May issue of units Magazine, which mails May 9.