Commentary

January 18, 2013

Dissent, better part of loyalty

Tags:
Lt. Col. MATTHEW LILJENSTOLPE
56th Training Squadron

Pg-2-commentary-Dissent-Liljenstolpe
How many of us have heard a new commander say, “I expect your loyalty, and I hope to earn your respect?”

I believe that the meaning of this saying is often misinterpreted by its audience. The second half of that statement is easy enough to understand, but what do military commanders mean when they demand your loyalty?

When I speak about loyalty with Airmen, I’m reminded of a quote from Gen. Colin Powell.

“Loyalty means giving me your honest opinion, whether you think I’ll like it or not. Disagreement, at this state, stimulates me. But once a decision is made, the debate ends. From that point on loyalty means executing the decision as if it were your own.”

General Powell’s quote perfectly summarizes what I think the term loyalty represents in the military. Notice that he mentions two aspects of what loyalty means to him. First, he believes that to display loyalty, a subordinate owes it to his superior to disagree in the form of an honest opinion. Secondly, subordinates must support the commander’s final decision. The later is of particular importance in any military organization. Nothing will destroy unit morale and break the chains of command faster than an influential subordinate that openly shows contempt of a command decision.

So how do we as Airmen execute these concepts? For that I have some advice.

The better half of loyalty is in disagreement; what I’ll call dissent. Dissent is an important part of decision making. Dissenting opinions provide rigor, which supports well-thought-out decisions.

To properly dissent with a supervisor, always go into the conversation armed with four things:

  1. Respect. Remember that the conversation, by the nature of military customs is an unequal dialog. Also, take your emotions out of the equation.
  2. Humility. While you may feel you’re the one in the trenches with all the situational awareness, embrace the idea that you don’t know all the forces at play. Your supervisor probably has a better grasp of the situation than you think.
  3. Solutions. You’re the expert. You will be the one that figures out the best way to solve a problem. Don’t dissent if you can’t offer a better way forward.
  4. Loyalty. This is probably the hardest thing to do in practice. Remember that it is the job of commanders to command. Our job is to carry out those commands in accordance with the core values of integrity, service and excellence. It’s a tough thing to garner buy-in from others on a decision that you disagree with, but as professional military officers, airmen and civilians, that’s precisely what our core values demand of us. As General Powell put it, loyalty is to act “as if (the decision) were your own.”

These concepts translate across all superior-subordinate relationships within our Air Force. Wing commanders must display loyalty to their MAJCOM commanders, group commanders to their wing commanders and so on all the way to airmen displaying loyalty to their font-line supervisor. In order to maintain a strong chain of command, from top to bottom, loyalty is an essential contract we must uphold at every link.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Every Airman has a voice

While Gen. Mark Welsh III was here at Luke Air Force Base, he discussed the importance of listening to your young Airmen, and making sure they feel empowered to have open dialogue and share ideas within their chain of command. As the NCO in charge of my section, I took General Welsh’s words to heart...
 
 

Off-base activities build your CAF

The Critical Days of Summer draw near. I know that in our shop this kicks off a slew of safety briefings about how to minimize the chance of injuries and stay out of danger. However, this shouldn’t discourage you from going out and exploring the Valley of the Sun. Luke is an amazing base because...
 
 

This week in history

April 30, 1975: The fall of Saigon Forty years ago this week, Saigon, the capital of the Republic of Vietnam, fell. The republic was also called South Vietnam. In 1973, United States combat troops left Vietnam, and though diminished, American support continued. Therefore, several thousand Americans still worked there. In March of 1975, the Democratic...
 

 
1401723279-mortalkombatx-xbox-onejpg-958cb1_624w

Fly Over: ‘Daredevil’ and ‘Mortal Kombat X’

On Netflix ‘Daredevil’ Add another hit series from the good people at Netflix. “Daredevil” joins the growing roster of original programming from the movie streaming service, including “House of Cards,” “Orange Is ...
 
 
Chaplain-seal

Chaplain’s thoughts …

Confessions of a nonCatholic chaplain: Why I love attending mass Last Sunday I had the privilege of attending Mass at Fowler Park. Twice a year Luke’s Catholic parish holds an outdoor Mass. The service is followed by a fellow...
 
 

The gift of leadership

Gen. Mark Welsh III may have said it best, “Leadership is a gift. It’s given by those who follow. You have to be worthy of it.” As the people of this nation give their children up to serve in the armed forces we as leaders need to be ready to lead them as they are...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin