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Retired Air Force Generals at Two Blue Aces Release Second Book on Leadership

July 14, 2023 News

Since retired Air Force Major Gen. H.D. “Jake” Polumbo founded Two Blue Aces Consulting in 2016, he’s assembled an impressive team of senior consultants. Now he’s sharing what it takes to assemble such a team in the second of two books on leadership.  

Leadership at 100 Feet follows his first book, Leadership at 30,000 Feet. Both were co-written with three retired Air Force generals, who also are consultants at Two Blue Aces. They are Rob Polumbo, Larry Martin and Chad Franks. Former Polk County Commissioner Todd Dantzler, who is also a senior consultant at Two Blue Aces, wrote the introduction. 

The book focuses on their development as leaders and what helped them succeed. “You have to develop your leadership style. If it’s not genuine, your people will see that immediately – they won’t move a mountain for you,” Jake Polumbo said.  

Amazon is selling the paperback book for $9.99. They said the authors “offer personal stories on how they developed their leadership styles and built high-performance teams. (They) offer unique insights from military careers that translate directly into today’s complex business environment. … In every way, Leadership at 100 Feet will challenge you to develop much better leaders in your organization today and in the future.” 

Their Experience

Jake Polumbo said he and three colleagues at Two Blue Aces – all called Aces – wrote the books to capture their thoughts on the leadership traits they valued and attained through their years in the Air Force. “None of us think we’re experts on the topic. We are just experienced and seasoned by our many opportunities to lead organizations and high-performance teams around the world.” 

He uses his military experience when adding Aces to his team. For instance, hiring retired military officers who he’s known for years, he said. “Other than Todd, all our senior consultants are retired generals. Companies are very keen on having retired generals or admirals on their board or consulting team because of their background. They are independent workers who can work without a lot of guidance. That’s the value stream of Two Blue Aces.” 

As a civilian businessman, Dantzler has used some of the principles in the book. “My point of view was how a business or company could utilize the messages and principles in the book for making their company better. I was able to give a little different perspective on my leadership journey. I was asked to be an Ace a few years ago and am very honored to do so.” 

The Books

The first book, Leadership at 30,000 Feet, describes the main characteristics of great leaders. These qualities are something they call the five Cs – Courage, Competence, Commitment, Compassion and Character. 

The second book, which came out in February 2023, “is all about our own leadership development. It focuses on what we consider to be the important parts of becoming effective leaders in any organization,” Polumbo said. “We tried hard in that book to focus on leading high-performance teams in the business world and civilian sector since all of us have now been retired for a few years and have worked with leadership teams in many companies and organizations.” 

Developing a Leadership Style

As with most leaders, Polumbo developed his leadership style through the years, enduring setbacks and challenges along the way. “I started my true leadership journey during squadron command in Korea. I then went on to command a bigger organization in Germany, a couple of large bases in the US (Texas and California), plus one international wing command position in the United Arab Emirates.” 

As he continued to develop his style, opportunities to broaden his skills emerged. He went on to lead diverse teams in the Pentagon and in an organization in Germany called US Africa Command.  

“My two most challenging leadership positions were as a Task Force commander in Afghanistan for a year and as a Numbered Air Force Commander headquartered near Sumter, South Carolina. In that position, I had a wide span of control from Virginia to Florida, and many thousands of people who worked in the command across the U.S.,” he said. 

Building a Team

Building a high-performing team takes time – and knowledge. 

“I think supervisors need to carefully pick their team leaders by first determining what the purpose of the team is. Then they need to search for people with the right skill sets for the team to succeed.”  

Those skill sets include hard skills – competencies in the business – and soft skills like their leadership style and communication capabilities, he said. “It’s not all about experience in the industry or academic certifications. Soft skills like communication and writing prowess might sometimes be the overriding factors in the search for the right people for a particular organization.” 

His advice for supervisors: “Communicate your goals and expectations to your people regularly. You must then listen to their inputs and concerns. Often, I watch young leaders or supervisors who think they’ve given the team enough information and guidance to proceed when really they’ve only just begun the communication process. I found that the more I listened to the people in my command, the more I learned what was truly needed to succeed in the task at hand.” 

Polumbo said his military experience gave him the discipline needed to handle tough tasks. “I wasn’t always the best communicator and listener but I sure knew those characteristics were important for a leader. And I learned how to stumble and fall a lot and then get up, dust myself off and get back to the task at hand. The U.S. didn’t expect its military to be softies so we had to be tough enough to handle the most challenging adversaries and problems and smart enough to not make the same mistake twice.  I think that aspect of my own development served me best during my civilian career.” 

Up Next?

The team is considering a third book centered around the concepts of winning strategies and positive cultures. It would most likely include the cultures and strategies of successful sports teams, military personnel and businesses, along with how subpar cultures and outdated strategies can doom a company. 

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