Michael Chandler

Charting a course for leadership

Army teaches Michael Chandler the benefits of different management styles.

November 15, 2019

Flat feet prevented Michael Chandler from enlisting in the military immediately after high school.

So, he went to college, got his undergraduate and graduate degrees in math and statistics, and was intending to teach.

Then 9/11 happened.

“I thought it was the right time to do something bigger,” says Chandler, vice president of learning and development at $1.4 billion asset Hanscom Federal Credit Union at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts. “At that moment, all of your concerns like college and finals seem really small.”

Chandler enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2002 and served until 2007, first as an air traffic controller in Washington state, and then as a training supervisor in Alabama, and finally was a facility chief and air traffic controller standards non-commissioned officer of an airfield in Germany.

“It’s funny, an air traffic controller in the Army, but actually the Army has more aircraft than any other branch and it’s very challenging,” Chandler says. “You’ve got fast fixed-wings and slower rotor-wings making separation very challenging.”

After leaving the military, Chandler worked at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the University of New Hampshire, and Southern New Hampshire University before he decided to try a career outside of the military and a university setting.

As vice president of learning and development at Hanscom Federal, Chandler leads the department and builds professional development and training opportunities for the credit union's employees.


He says his time in the Army taught him that there is no single way to be a leader and there are things to be learned from each style.

“You realize that no one style is bad. Some leadership styles work for some and not others,” Chandler says. “Some of the people that I respond to most are quiet leaders. They set a vision, they provide clear goals and expectations, and you can tell they’re selfless.”

It's a leadership style that resonated with Chandler and one he tries emulate with his team at Hanscom Federal.

“My goal is to cultivate a high performing team--to bring together people with skill sets that complement one another. Then I try to set a clear vision, provide motivation, and make sure they have what they need. After that, you really just need to get out of their way," he says. "Occasionally you have to step in and steer things or clarify expectations. But for the most part, if you have really good people and you take care of them, you just need to to support them and let them do what they do best."

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