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.


 
 

 

Gratitude cultivates exceptional leadership

Several months ago I was inspired by the phrase “cultivate an attitude of gratitude.” The topic was presented in a religious context; however, I found these words significant and profound when considered as a tenent of exceptional leadership. Cultivate is an action verb. The word brings to mind images of an experienced gardener patiently tending...
 
 

Leadership vs. management

Have you ever had a boss or someone that made you want to come to work every day, someone you would do anything for without question? Then you were probably working beside a leader, not a manager. The biggest difference between managers and leaders is the way they motivate people who work for or follow...
 
 

Short-term loan interest rates too high

To those considering a payday loan or title loan, listen up. A short-term loan should be a last resort because the interest rates are extremely high. If it is an emergency, there are grants and interest-free loans to eligible Airmen and their family members through the Air Force Aid Society. Contact the Luke Air Force...
 

 

Chaplain’s Thoughts

What’s your net worth? That’s a very American question, a very western question. It conveys the idea that one’s value is determined by the bottom line. We play a silly game in our culture that goes like this. We ask the question, “What would we be worth if we cashed it all out, sold the...
 
 
restaurant-window-photo

Fly Over: ‘Republic Ramen + Noodles’ and ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1′

Dining out: ‘Republic Ramen + Noodles’ One of my past editors once told me a good writer worth his salt can write a story about a ham sandwich and people will want to read it. So my question is: how does one write a...
 
 

Standards of conduct guided by integrity

When it comes to conducting business with the federal government, there is an implicit amount of trust that contracting professionals must preserve. Transactions relating to the expenditure of public funds require the highest degree of public trust and an impeccable standard of conduct. Contracting professionals are not the only ones who are involved in the...
 




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