Keep it simple

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Brian Huber
  • 319th Medical Group first sergeant
One of the greatest leadership books, in my opinion, is "Lincoln on Leadership." It doesn't matter if you're an officer, enlisted or civilian leader, this book will help shape you and give you information to make you a better leader. This is just one book you could use to learn about leadership and there are 10,000 more just like it. So, what does it take to be a great leader? How many books should you read? Can you find "it" in a book? Each of those questions can be debated longer than I have to get my point across, so, I will share my three-fold recipe that worked for me from my days as an airman basic to now as a first sergeant.

In a nut-shell keep it simple. First you have to set standards and then ensure solid communication throughout an organization with passion. One could debate which one is more important but I like to keep it simple.

So how do you keep it simple? I have heard it called KISS (keep it simple stupid). When I was younger, I would always looked at the crusty old first sergeant or supervisor that I thought was a great leader and try to figure out how they kept it simple. It took time and a handful of great supervisors and leaders along the way (note: I won't use the term mentor because when I came in the word was not used - it was called leadership) and this is what I took away from them.

If you set standards and hold your people to those standards you can keep it simple. An effective standard is one that is achievable, measureable and you have the authority to place on your team. The sheer fact you're in a leadership or supervisor position gives you the authority. If you set standards driven from your organization policy it's simple to measure them and it allows you to show each individual how they stack up or don't stack up. If your standards are too high, your people will not be able to measure up and will likely become frustrated and not even met the standard. If your standards are too low, get ready to enjoy time with your leadership on personal or personnel issues. Set attainable standards and your team will meet and exceed them; people don't come to work wanting to do poorly, so set a standard and hold them to it.

Once you set standards you must be able to communicate them clearly to your organization or team. If they don't know the standards, how are they supposed to follow them? If they don't know how they measure against the standard, how are they going to improve or progress? KISS comes to mind here. Communicating standards to meeting times it does not matter, communication is an important key to success for an

Setting standards, communicating the standards and last piece of the puzzle to being a good leader is passion. Have passion in what you do, your Air Force specialty code, your role, your Air Force, your nation - something. Do you have to be a cheerleader? No. But you can see passion and your organization can see if you have passion for them individually and as a team. Passion means many things to lots of people but to me, passion is being energetic with a purpose. Place as much energy as you can with your unit and their issues. Follow-up on their issues so they know you can be counted on no matter the issue. If they don't believe in you or you're not approachable, do you think they will come to see you with a small problem; moreover, a big problem that could be life or death? KISS comes to mind here. Take care of them and show you care. You will see that they handle the mission - any mission.

If you happen to read "Lincoln on Leadership" you will see that one way to make all this come together is by walking around. Yes, something so simple as just walking around your organization. I have bought stock in "leadership by wondering around".
You will know your organization, their issues and your team, and if you have any passion, it will show your organization that you care about them.

Sometimes leaders forget about getting out of the "ivory tower" and rubbing elbows with those that get the mission accomplished. You would be amazed what you can learn about just walking around saying hello to your team. Keep it simple, standards, communicate and passion, yes, leadership can be that easy.