A US Air Force officer going under the pseudonym of a beheaded “Game of Thrones” character spoke up against the Air Force promotion system’s flaws- and became a beloved superstar in the process.
When he noticed an issue that nobody wanted to openly discuss, Colonel Jason Lamb felt it was his duty to raise awareness on how the USAF chooses and cultivates leaders.
When Lamb decided to speak up, he got mixed reactions from his friends. As the director of intelligence, analysis and innovation at Air Education and Training Command at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph in Texas, it was likely that heads would roll if he spoke up.
With the penalty in mind (and with a little help from his friends), he came up with the name “Ned Stark,” borrowed from a Game of Thrones character who happened to lose his own head.
“I had no idea that I was setting off a powderkeg,” Lamb told the Air Force Times. “I had no idea the scope and the intensity that this would bring.”
Lamb’s issues rested with how the USAF demands “high potential” from young officers early on, promoting them early and fast-tracking them into leadership positions. In addition to missing out on “late bloomer” officers with great potential, the Air Force also fails to hold the “rising stars” accountable when they make mistakes.
“We promote, more than we need to, folks who don’t need to be promoted,” he said.
Such promotion errors lead to toxic leadership, Lamb argued, and it is bad for the entire force.
“People were burned out, leaving in droves,” Lamb said. “You couldn’t get them to stay in.”
While “Ned Stark” feared he would be punished, his complaints reached the upper echelons of the Pentagon- and people actually listened.
For Lamb, however, he wasn’t about to be stopped by anyone.
“I’m not sure I would want to work for somebody who had an issue with what I wrote,” he said.
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