February Chief's Concerns
By Chief Master Sgt. Robert Wright, 169th Operations Support Squadron
/ Published January 29, 2015
MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. -- Leadership is defined in Air Force Doctrine Document 1-1 as "the art and science of influencing and directing people to accomplish the assigned mission". One of our primary focuses as leaders should be mission accomplishment in our daily jobs and when called upon by our state and nation. What must not be forgotten is that the mission cannot be accomplished without our people. As leaders we must put the same effort into the mission as we do into taking care of our Airmen. Part of taking care of our Airmen is to provide them with the opportunities to better themselves as leaders within our organization. One of the benefits of being in the SCANG and the U.S. Air Force is that all Airmen are expected to become leaders within the organization, the wing and the Air Force. You don't need to be a commander or in a supervisory position to lead. Through Professional Military Education, we are given the tools and the knowledge to improve our leadership skills, but it is up to each of us to take what we've learned and apply it to become effective leaders. Here are a few traits that I feel are important to becoming an effective leader:
Integrity - It should be no surprise that Integrity is the 1st leadership trait on my list, and it's not just integrity, it's all of our Core Values. You cannot be an effective leader without believing in and living by our values. Doing the right thing when no one is looking applies to every task. When you think you've completed the task, ask yourself, what's the next step? Have I missed something? Try to stay one step ahead of your commanders and supervisors. Lean forward in your thinking to make sure the task is indeed 100% complete.
Respect - President Dwight D. Eisenhower said, "You do not lead by hitting people over the head-that's assault, not leadership". To gain respect, you must treat your subordinates and peers with respect. It's pretty simple, the "Golden Rule" traits that we've all learned since we were children. There may come a time when "hitting people over the head" is required, but that should never be your first response.
Adapt and Perform Under Pressure - This is a trait straight out of AFDD 1-1, "Personally manage change and maintain continuity for self and others when mission requirements, work tasks, or processes change." There is one thing for certain in the USAF and that is change, which will bring plenty of pressure. As our commanders, supervisors and systems change, we are required as leaders to reassess our priorities to meet new goals and mission requirements. Is this stressful? Yes, but we can all adapt and overcome!
Communicate - As leaders we must be effective communicators. Communication throughout the organization must be clear, concise and with impact. Failure to communicate effectively will have a direct negative impact to mission accomplishment. Did you send an email? Well good, now follow up and make sure the message was received and understood. Too many times, communication fails through email.
Accountability - Mission failures and successes will happen, as a leader, be prepared to take responsibility for the failures and "give credit where credit is due" for mission successes. A leader is more effective when supported by a team of Airmen leaders. To build an effective team, you must properly recognize your Airmen.
When we recite the Airman's Creed, we all state that we are "Wingman, Leaders, Warriors." We must do what we can to live by our creed and become leaders within the SCANG and the USAF. The good thing about developing into a leader is that the skills can be learned and most of these traits are spelled out for us in AFI's and publications. You just have to take the initiative to read, learn and implement!