Leadership learned

  • Published
  • By Donald Sydlik
  • Army & Air Force Exchange Service
I would first like to pass on my appreciation to Hill Air Force Base and all its members for allowing AAFES and myself to continue to serve you. You are the best customers in the world. It has been my pleasure to serve here at Hill for the last year and this has been one of the best assignments I could ask for.

Being in my first general manager position here at Hill there has been a great educational process. Leading to the successful results of the AAFES operations I have developed what I like to call "Listen, Learn, Implement". From my 25 plus facilities in Utah crossing lines between Air Force, Army, Guard and civilian customers I have tried to employ this policy to lead our organization to best serve Team Hill.

My retail environment is driven by every social economic influence in the world today. Our customer base is so vast and unlike other retailers we are not able to cut out a niche clientele that we feel will be the most profitable and capitalize on them. We struggle to provide the best operations for the entire population of the local community, while returning to you a dividend to support morale, welfare and recreation.

Having said this, the best information on how to lead my team comes from you. I am not an office junky that leads from a desk. I believe the business is out there with you in the stores. I take every opportunity I can find to listen to many of you as I can in my daily routine. When I say you this applies not only to those obvious customers that walk in the front door but also our associates, our competition, my family members and other social groups that provide what you would call intelligence. This intelligence is the foundation that teaches me the best opportunities to run our business. From this intelligence I am able to find unique needs for items like Popeye's.

Although meeting and talking to you and gathering this intelligence is the fun side, it simply leads me on the most challenging part of my job, learning. Taking this information and researching it to discover what exactly it means and how to best use it. This takes me through many new educational opportunities to study why we need a product how to obtain the product and the best way to market them.

At this stage it is time to react and try to implement the most plausible solution. Using the basic AAFES philosophy, "right people, right product, right place at the right time," we then move forward.

This article was not supposed to be about the mission but how it is lead. If you take anything away from this it is that you are the mission and it is you that leads us here at Hill. Everything you see done at any of my facilities is based on something that I have learned from you.

I believe that our mission has been a success and we will continue to serve and provide for you at team Hill. I measure this success in two ways; First back to stage one, listening to you. We have had many positive comments telling us we are going in the right direction. Two, we have been able over the past year to give back almost $.75 million dollars to the Air Force as a result of your patronage in the AAFES facilities to help fund MWR.

P.S. We look forward to opening Popeye's in March, see you there.