Mark Fogel is a former US Air Force fighter pilot and current squadron commander in the Ohio Air National Guard. He’s A graduate of the US Air Force Academy and the Harvard Kennedy School, he is an adjunct lecturer at the University of Dayton, and his TEDx Talk called The Culture of a Fighter Squadron is fantastic.

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  • American Fighter Sqaudrons are the most effective teams on the planet. Cockiness is unacceptable. Humility is a critical quality and skill to be part of the team.
    • The subculture is you check your rank at the door. When you lead a mission, you’re in charge of the debrief. I love building a culture where feedback is regularly given both ways. And the trust created amongst the team to be able to do this with psychological safety.
  • The real training and learning take place in the debrief…Spending hours pouring over video, computer graphic reenactments, radio calls, everything… To diagnose exactly what went right and what didn’t and why. The debriefs can last multiple days to describe 10 minutes of action.
    • The person who leads the debrief is the flight leader. That person is not necessarily the most experienced member of the team. Fighter squadrons share the leadership and followership duties constantly. You might have a situation where it’s a 24-year-old lieutenant telling a 2-star General in front of the entire room, “You screwed up and this is why we failed the mission because of it.” This creates a mixture of perfectionism and humility.
  • Building a culture takes time. Trust is built from character and competence.
    • How do you reward and incentivize behavior?
    • You’re modeling what you want others to do.
  • A leader is someone who has followers.
  • “An American Fighter Squadron is the most effective team on the planet.”
  • How to create a learning organization?
    • Incentivize people to share mistakes and what they learned from them.
  • “We love leadership, but we’ve completely forgotten about the lost art of followership.”
  • The special term for a follower: “A Wingman” – You as the follower, are responsible for the mutual support of your team.”
  • Leaders need to share everything with their followers… Their followers might need to take over as the leader at any moment and they must be prepared.
  • “The strength of the leader is measured by how effectively you mentor and lead, and prepare your followers.”
  • Feedback – How to effectively receive it. As leaders, our response to feedback is what tells others if we want it or not. If we blame, complain, or explain it away, then we are telling people that we don’t want feedback. We must receive feedback well, with gratitude if we want feedback. 
  • “An American Fighter Pilot has more individual firepower at their discretion than anyone in the military.”
  • What do you do if you question the credibility of the person giving the feedback?
    • Separate the message from the messenger.
  • There are a lot of people who learn from talking… “If you’re talking, you’re learning.”
  • Apply to be part of my Leadership Circle

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