August Commander's Corner
By Maj. Brian Doyle, 169th MOF
/ Published August 01, 2013
MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, South Carolina -- It has been 13 months since I wrote my last Commander's article. Where has the year gone? We have been so busy with deployments, Combined Readiness Evaluation preparation, exercises and many other things, that months seem to go by in days. But we are making it happen...like the Swamp Foxes always do!
I truly enjoyed reading Chief David Alderman's article a few months ago about exhibiting a positive attitude and how it leads to success. I would like to talk more about that subject, because it is so important in these times of hectic operations. The success of the CRE depends on a positive attitude.
A positive attitude is strength in the face of adversity. It can be calm, positive steps during times of chaos. It perseveres through seemingly impossible situations. Or sometimes it is just a friendly smile and some humor when "the going gets tough". When I was commissioned and began my career as a maintenance officer, I received nearly all my exposure to leadership from senior noncommissioned officers and chiefs. That is because of the sheer size of maintenance. Most shops ranged from 60-200 personnel and always had a Senior Master Sgt. or Chief running them. I was quick to respect maintenance senior NCOs and chiefs when I walked into a new shop and, as such, they always took me under their wing for mentorship. We had many long conversations in production trucks, walking the flight line or in the war zone turning jets for combat sorties. Those conversations meant more to me than any quarterly award or other type of recognition I received. They had the experience to teach me at the tactical level of how an organization should run and also how to be a leader. Honestly, I learned more from my maintenance chiefs and senior NCOs in about two years than I did from all my training in college and before.
I say this so that the enlisted folks reading this article may know they do in fact have a strong influence on officer development. While our conversations about enforcing accountability, making tough decisions and being harsh were discussed at times, they often focused on the positive. "Treat your people well." "Get after them, but always take care of them." "Praise them often." "Don't crush them, instead instill hope and positively push them to accomplish the mission" "Knock down walls and remove hurdles for them."
Why did the chiefs say those things? Because followers feed off of positive leaders. Positive leaders have the most referent power and can truly cause the organization to "make things happen". A positive leader that earns trust in the organization is ten times more powerful than a leader who only rules by fear. When you are positive as a leader, people don't want to let you down. Many times it is personal for them to do a good job, because they feel you (representing the larger Guard or Air Force) are taking care of them and they wish to take care of you and the organization in return. They will work hard even if you as the leader are not there, because they want the organization and you, as a leader, to succeed. But, as a leader, you must do your part and truly take care of those people.
This type of leadership has Swamp Fox written all over it. A Swamp Fox is humble, loyal and takes care of his or her people. Our fighter unit is extraordinarily successful. We are war fighters. But the secret to our success lies in taking care of people and a positive attitude.