Leadership Perspectives: 4th SOPS commander

Commander 4 SOPS

Lt. Col. Armon Lansing, 4th Space Operations Squadron commander.


Lt. Col. Armon Lansing is a 20 year veteran of the U.S. Air Force. Lansing has served in numerous roles during his career, from serving at Air Force headquarters, to Office of the Secretary of Defense. He now serves as the 4th Space Operations Squadron commander where he took some time out of his day to share some of his leadership perspectives.

1. What was your motivation for joining the Air Force and where did you start your career?

I happened upon the Air Force as a part of college immersion briefs. My dad suggested I try ROTC as it would help pay for college and I figured I would give it a try. As it turns out, I greatly appreciated the core values, structure and job/leadership opportunities. As such, I decided to get my career started as an officer in the Air Force. After 20 years, I am still here and greatly appreciate that this profession has grown me both as a person and a leader through opportunities not available in most if not all civilian sector jobs.

2. What do you feel your strengths and weaknesses are?

I love to learn and problem solve, and I am blessed with the ability to see through complex problems. Unfortunately, this comes with the side effect of wanting the facts before making a decision which can slow down decision making. In addition, I like coming up with ideas and solutions to problems, but am not as good carrying them through to completion (as I want to move onto solving the next problem.) Finally, while I greatly like sharing ideas, public speaking is not my forte. I am very appreciative of command and the opportunity to refine my strengths and work on my weaknesses!

3. Who is a leader that stands out to you and why?

There are so many to choose from, but one that resonates with me in my experience right now is General and then later President George Washington. His really is a story of the courage to do what he believed to be right and steadfast resilience in the face of a number of failures. As a squadron commander, I can certainly relate, operating at times on the edge of the unknown, making decisions in the gray space and having the courage to get back up when failure hits you square between the eyes. Stories like that of our first president can encourage each of us to step out and take a chance and to keep going when times get tough as we seek to achieve our goals as individuals and as a team.

4. What are your hobbies, past times or unique skills you have and what draws you to them?

I have always been a weather watcher. I have especially been intrigued and awed by the power of a thunderstorm. This led me to take up a hobby of storm photography. I am no expert and do it more for my own enjoyment so you most likely will not see my photos on your favorite magazine or web page, but I certainly like the challenge of trying to improve upon my technique and the challenge of trying to catch that great picture.

5. What aspects of leadership are the most important to nurture?

I think it is important to know yourself and your team. To better manage tough situations, you should know your strengths and weaknesses as well as your biases and blind spots. This will help you to understand what you are capable of and where you may need to rely on others for advice or to shore up those areas where you may not be as capable. In addition, you should also know your people as this will help you to quickly identify the right people you can trust to assist you with the challenge as well as knowing how to both push and influence or motivate your team as you face the challenges of making change together.

6. How do you prepare junior Airmen for leadership roles?

I try to give my young Airmen opportunities to step out and practice leadership. It teaches them about their strengths and weaknesses, how to succeed and fail and how to work through situations. However, you must also coach them through the situation, especially if they are struggling, and then let them continue to lead. This is a challenge in today’s fast paced, high ops tempo, but low risk-tolerance environment. Many leaders don’t take this opportunity because they don’t feel they have the time or they fear the risk of failure reflecting poorly on them. However, we need to give our Airmen a chance to lead and work through the situation to the end even in the midst of failure. This enables them to be prepared to lead rather than having to figure out leadership only once they achieve the “official” leadership role.

7. What is an action or routine that you need to do every day?

I am an introvert. However, the Air Force has tasked me with leading a very large squadron. This entails a number of interactions with groups of people, both large and small. I greatly enjoy helping people, spending time with my folks, and leading my mission. However, for an introvert, this can be incredibly exhausting so I need to take some personal time each day to decompress and recharge my batteries. I do this in a number of different ways but this allows me to come back each day, refreshed and ready to lead my team.