It was an early morning, still in the beginning stages of spring but you wouldn’t have been able to guess that based on the oppressing humidity that blanketed the area. Though early, the track was anything but quiet, it held the scuffle of tennis shoes on pavement, the swoosh of Air Force issued Physical Training gear, and most notably the huffing and puffing of the souls running their Physical Fitness Tests. A mile and half around a track is not a difficult feat for many, but for some the anxiety, the pressure, the laziness, or the lack of initiative can leave them struggling. Kadena AB’s Command Chief Colon-Lopez had just finished working out with his office when it appeared that he noticed an Airmen struggling, breaking to walk. Without hesitation, and in a flak vest, Chief CZ sprinted to the track and completed the remainder of the fitness test at that Airmen’s side, never letting him quit. While others stood at the sidelines, he pushed.
He called it carnivore leadership; the compilation of leadership anecdotes, methods, and overall vision that drove his unique leadership style. When asked why, he’d sprout a big toothy grin and say “because carnivores are always hungry.” He’d go on to say that the best leaders are the ones who are constantly seeking to improve the environment that they are in. The carnivore leaders are the ones who are willing to put in the extra work. Chief CZ further defined his carnivore leadership tenants in regularly published professional development guides that he called his silver bullets of leadership.
Chief CZ’s carnivore leadership mentality also had another bite to it; sometimes it is necessary to “call the baby ugly”. He was adamant about enforcing standards. If you cannot keep up, don’t make excuses, own up and fix it or move out. “Somebody somewhere is always looking to shirk responsibility for their actions – ‘it is always someone else’s fault.’ At the same time, somebody elsewhere is lacking the moral courage to correct others who are falling short of the mark – ‘it is not my problem, someone else will fix it eventually.’” (Colon-Lopez, 2013)
According to Northouse, “leadership involves influence. It is concerned with how the leader affects followers,” (Northouse, 2016, p. 6) a boss has power, but a leader has influence. Currently serving as the Command Chief for United States Air Forces Central Command, Command Chief Master Sergeant Ramon Colon-Lopez’s position is at the peak of the military leadership echelon. On a March day he was serving in a leadership billet as the Command Chief of Kadena AB in Okinawa, Japan. His position gave him automatic respect; it was his attitude however, which earned him reverence.
Colon-Lopez, R. (2013). Commentary – Silver bullets for effective leadership: ‘Calling The Baby Ugly’ Retrieved June 05, 2016, from http://www.kadena.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123342781
Northouse, P. (2016). Leadership: Theory and Practice (7th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE