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Leadership 101

Posted by Jolly on September 19, 2011



Excerpt from Chris Olds’ speech at the Class of 2011 Exemplar Dinner held at the Air Force Academy October 24, 2008

“So here is what your former Commandant and Class Exemplar would say to you tonight about the leadership challenges that lie ahead of you: “


  • Know the mission. 
  • Know what is expected of you and your people. Get to know those people, their attitudes and expectations. 
  • Visit all the shops and sections of your assignments. Ask questions. Don’t be shy. Learn what each person does, how the parts fit into the whole. 
  • Find out what supplies or equipment are lacking, what do the workers need?
  • To whom does each shop chief report? 
  • Does that troop really know the people under him? 
  • Is he aware of their legitimate needs, their state of training? 
  • Does he supervise, or just make out reports without checking facts? no.jpgRemember, those reports eventually come to you.  
  • Don’t try to bullshit the troops, but make sure they know the buck stops with you. 
  •  Let them know that you’ll shoulder the blame when things go wrong. 
  • Correct without purpose of revenge or anger. 
  • Recognize accomplishment.  Reward accordingly. 
  • Foster spirit through self-pride, not meaningless slogans, and never, ever at the expense of another person, unit or command. Only your genuine interest and concern plus follow-up on your promises will earn you respect. 
  • Out of that respect you will gain loyalty and obedience. You and your outfit will be a standout. 
  • For God’s sake, Don’t go dumb between the ears! Listen, learn, study, keep an open mind.
  • Keep a positive attitude. 
  • Be accountable but don’t ever try to be popular! That weakens your position and makes you vulnerable. 
  • Don’t play favorites. That breeds resentment.
  • Be respectful of the talents of your people. 
  • Have the courage to delegate responsibility and give the authority to go with it. 
  • Infuse your subordinates with your own passion.
  • Lead by example instead of from a chair at a distance. Be the best that you can be.F4.jpg
  • Know that every person who comes into your life to support your life deserves your respect. 
  • Learn who they are. Learn about their families, where they come from, what they love. Look and learn about what they do. 
  • Uplift them. Let them know you care. Let them know you are connected. 
  • Don’t you dare belittle or hold anyone in disdain or contempt unless they have proven to you personally they deserve it. Then deal with it in a private way and with dignity. viet25.jpg
  • Tell the truth.
  • Think from your gut. 
  • Do what’s right. 
  • Do what’s honorable. 
  • Learn the depths and the limits of your own vulnerability. 
  • Take a chance on love, because you can’t know you’re in heaven until you’ve been in hell.
  • Laugh. Don’t take yourselves too seriously. Life is precious. Live it fully. Live it joyfully.
  • Give it your best. Don’t waste a second. Above all – Have fun!!!


USAFA Class of 2011 at Exemplar dinner sporting Robin Olds Staches

"I know that my father would be enormously proud of all of you and I look forward to shaking every one of your hands in June of 2011. Know that there is someone sitting on your shoulders, looking out for you. When in doubt, just think, “What would Robin Olds do?”


Posted by ClintMoses on
I flew F4's out of DaNang in 1967-68...My direct boss was Col. Boots Blesse whom I believe was along with Col. Robin Olds two of the most dynamic Combat Air Force Leaders of that period. In 1969 I was to be with Gen. Olds at the USAF and then in 1971 again with, Gen. Blesse at George AFB...

Are you offering for sale, prints of the F4 coming off that Low Level Support Mission?

Clint Moses
Posted by Jolly on
Sorry, we don't have those prints In our store. Let me do some checking and get back to you about where you might be able to get them. I'll also see if it's possible to get them in our store.

Posted by Jolly on
Got this from Denny:

he should have included paying your bar bill after successful raids on north vietnam.  i was at ubon right after he left and we had the highest oclub bills in theater.  LOL  so much fun.  i miss it.

all the best
Posted by MickCooper on
Please sign me up for a copy of the F-4 print if/when they become available.
Gen Boots Blesse and I were in the same R-4 RTU class at DM. We all got copies of his "No Guts, No Glory". I got to leave DaNang after 101 missions north, but Boots was stuck there for a year. Our paths crossed again at the Pentagon after he made Gen and I made major.
When Gen Olds passed through Homestead to speak at a Dining Inn, he came by my house to change from flight suit to mess dress and have a few drinks. I had most of my squadron members and their wives over, too, and naturally all the ladies fell in love with Robin.
Posted by Jolly on
From Vince:

Looks great Jolly and like the way you formatted it….easier to follow.  Re: comments and inquiry from Clint , you might want to follow up with Connie or Ed Bowlin (contact info below). Good friends of my cousin Christina who you may know (wrote the book). Her contact info below also if you’re interested. She might have some ideas too.  Feel free to contact me sometime …I might have a few more interesting tid bits to pass along about the old boy. Meantime, I’ll register on the site and jump in. Will also pass on your website to surviving “Wolf Pack” boys I met at past 8th Tac Reunion/drinking marathon gatherings.

For the Prints contact:
Connie and Ed Bowlin
(770) 233-8880
(770) 329-7263
Vince Olds

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
Edmund Burke
Posted by Duke on
One chapter of "Fighter Pilot" says more about leadership than all the SOS, AWC, etc theoretical crap that takes thousands of pages of book reading. USAF just refuses to recognize true leadership, accomplishment, and genius. I can only guess that they are jealous and think that long boring academia substitutes for real leadership. Eye wash!!!!!

Posted by Jolly on
I got this from an old Eagle buddy of mine who will remain nameless. He uses pretty big words for a fighter pilot, but I feel his observation really hit home:

Hi Jolly,

Thought you might appreciate this somewhat sad juxtaposition of events. As an attache' in training, of course I attend as many cocktail parties as possible to get in shape. Earlier tonight I was at the British Embassy in DC where several hundred people were invited to celebrate the 71st anniversary of Battle of Britain Day (the actual "day" is on the 15th of Sept BTW). The Brits still revere fighter pilots, and the Air Attache gave a rousing speech about the role of fighter pilots in the Battle of Britain to include several US volunteers (we had not yet entered WW2 yet). As Winston Churchill said about his fighter bro's, "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."

Meanwhile, on this side of the Atlantic, I also saw this headline this morning: "AF: UAV pilots will eventually outnumber others." Anything wrong with this picture? Sure glad I was flying fighters during our most recent (and last?) heyday during the 80s/90s.
Posted by wroberts1956 on

When the Wing Commander could no longer instruct, lead or fly as a wingman, the Air Force lost the bubble. The people promoted to Colonel/General should be the ones that can do all of those things AND pass the canapes, if necessary. The idea that WAR can be handled NICELY, is just such BS...those such as General Olds are national treasures...its a shame we cut them off early...

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