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.


 
 

 
Lightening-within-five

Lightning over Luke …

The F-35 Lightning II isn’t the only lightning striking over Luke Air Force Base. This strike, about five miles west of the Luke flightline, was captured on camera at 1:12 a.m. Aug. 12 at the jet engine test cell.
 
 

Program smooths change from military to civilian life

It can be difficult to find work in today’s economy, even more so for families that are moving to a new area or families that are transitioning from military to civilian life. One program available to veterans is the Workforce Investment Act, which can help veterans have a smooth transition to civilian work. The 56th...
 
 

New form second chance to do EPRs right

Without fail, every time I am around a group of young NCOs, there is one subject guaranteed to come up — the enduring question of “How can I write a stronger EPR for my Airman?” My answer to this question is fairly standard and is one that a chief shared with me many years ago....
 

 

Plan for final out

How many of you are prepared for life outside of the military? Seriously, if you were told tomorrow was your final out, what would you do? We are currently in an environment where Defense Department rollbacks are a serious issue we must all contemplate. Fewer officers are being commissioned. Last year there was only one...
 
 

News Briefs August 22, 2014

Commander’s call Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus, 56th Fighter Wing commander, will hold a commander’s call Monday in the Luke Air Force Base theater at 7 a.m. for Airmen, 9 a.m. for NCOs, 11 a.m. for senior NCOs, 1 p.m. for civilians, 3 p.m. for officers and 5 p.m. for those not able to make another...
 
 
Airman 1st Class 
JAMES HENSLEY

Commandant challenges students to be best

Airman 1st ClassJAMES HENSLEY Master Sgt. Sheris Poisson, 56th Force Support Squadron Airman Leadership School commandant, briefs students Aug. 12 about the active-shooter exercise Aug. 15 at Luke Air Force Base. Poisson asked ...
 




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