September Chief's Concerns
By Chief Master Sgt. Russell Oswald, 169th AMXS
/ Published August 27, 2012
MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, South Carolina -- In these ever changing times, an NCO might at any time be placed in the role of being a responsible leader. They must be prepared to accept and perform in their leadership role in order to contribute to the overall mission.
Some tools available to prepare these individuals are the Airman Leadership School, NCOA and Senior NCOA courses. These courses provide a framework which the individuals must continue to build upon in order to prepare themselves for future leadership roles. Our future leaders need to be encouraged to enroll in and complete these courses as they prepare to move up to the next level. Too often, individuals are passed over for the next promotion simply because they have not completed mandatory PME courses. When the opportunity for promotion presents itself, individuals who are prepared will rise above the others.
While preparing this article, I noticed my desktop flip-style calendar entitled Extraordinary Leaders (by Edward Frei). This calendar was given to me as a gift and contains a collection of inspirational quotes attributed to some of the greatest leaders in our recent history. These quotes are relevant to the way we live our daily lives and are meant to promote positive thinking and inspiration at the start of each day. I read through each of the daily quotes from the entire year and decided to share two of my favorites that are relevant leadership models.
My first favorite leadership-related quote is on the calendar for Jan. 1 and is attributed to Admiral Grace Hopper: "You don't manage people; you manage things. You lead people." Admiral Hopper is considered to be a pioneer in the computer field and was an advocate of the use of smaller, distributed computer systems like those we use today. She is also credited with coining up with the word "de-bugging" when troubleshooting one of the early systems.
In order to lead your people, you must be experiencing their job from their point of view. You cannot effectively lead your people from behind a desk and expect peak performance. Supervisors who do not actively engage their Airmen and experience their environment first hand cannot possibly be effective leaders. In order to know what influences our Airmen, effective supervisors must get to know their people and see firsthand what contributes to their actions or reactions to the situation at hand.
My other favorite quote is from Nov. 27 and is attributed to John Wayne: "Talk low, talk slow and don't say too much." The Duke was known for being a man of few words in his movie roles. His character always got his point across and achieved the objective. The acronym TMI comes to mind here. Our Airmen are smart and are willing and able to perform their jobs to the best of their ability. Supervisors must also allow their people to make intelligent decisions without second guessing their every move yet be prepared to keep them within boundaries. In order to do this, they need to know what their people are doing to begin with.