Being a leader

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Vanessa Smallsbryant
  • 319th Force Support Squadron
Air Force and civilian personnel are unique members of a selective operation and have vowed their service, dedication and commitment to defend the security of this country! They, both individually and collectively, help to shape and define the place of officers, civilians and enlisted leaders in the American Armed Forces.

The baton of leadership is handed to many on a somewhat daily basis. The question which begs to be asked, though rhetorical in nature, centers on the word "avail."

When the time comes to assume the responsibility of leadership, will you avail yourself to take on such an opportunity? Will you be ready to become the advocate, spokesperson, bridge of communication (and so much more) to the leaders whom you will serve?

For instance, will you take an active leadership and supervisory role by staying involved with your personnel on a daily basis? Or will you be the vehicle which transports miscommunication, confusion, allowances for the degradation of standards, say or repeat words or deeds, which fail to promote the expectations of leadership? Wait, I have one more, though I dare not say it, I must...will you be the vehicle, which acts in direct contradiction to the mission in order to fulfill a self-serving motivation or purpose?

Allow me to give my "take" on an effective leader; it's the world according to Moi, you might say.

First, an effective leader adheres to a moral compass which is nothing more than a sense and acknowledgment of right from wrong. The leader does not compromise integrity or moral courage for any reason! This compass is a personal tool sheltered within our being, which guides us way beyond the specific situation and/or decision that entices us, at times, to consider gravitating to doing what may be out of character and in the end causes judgment by and from the very people we affirm to serve. Once compromised, integrity, which is married to dependability, trustworthiness and faithfulness, becomes difficult to re-establish.

It is interesting to note there are many people who shun leadership opportunities simply because they do not want to lead, tell others what to do, and/or be held responsible for holding people accountable to perform. Being "Da man" or "Da woman" can be rather uncomfortable and is sometimes viewed as "unpopular."

Despite such fear and apprehension, there are many men and women who quickly and without reservation accept the challenge of leadership and adhere to those responsibilities. Such individuals will not only accept the challenge, but will also execute all duties (not just the ones they are most comfortable doing or those which do not require the use of any conflict management skills).

With the challenge of leadership come the expectations of exemplary duty performance. The way you perform in your primary duties will directly bind the lower and higher ranks, military and civilian, together!

As the leader, if you are doing what is required of you by meeting standards and expectations, motivating personnel to achieve their highest potential, dispensing rewards and corrections fairly, impartially, and consistently based upon performance, then you will serve as the instrument to positively and effectively meet our mission.

Lastly, an effective leader understands the meaning of the word "professionalism" and works diligently to promote the characteristics of that word at all times, not just when others are eyeballin' them. All leaders must conduct themselves so as to bring credit upon their unit, its mission, this wing, and the United States Air Force. Accountability is demonstrated through one's character and conduct, which are both weighed heavily when the leader takes charge.

Furthermore, the effective leader places the needs of the team, military and civilian alike, above their own needs. In my opinion, additional characteristics of being a professional and demonstrating professionalism includes, but certainly is not limited to, leading by example; and if the action calls for it, resorting to disciplinary action. Professionals listen effectively and allow and promote effective communication. Whining should never be acceptable in any professional environment. However, if a performer must whine, the leader must ensure that those moments, like this writer, should be kept short!

The take-away from all of this is rather simple: an effective leader must be available to accept leadership responsibilities, accept the challenge of leadership and then utilize the characteristics of being a professional and create an environment of professionalism. It's all a matter of public trust! So, are y-o-u the effective leader?