Leadership comes in many forms such as skill, knowledge, appearance and rank. There are other forms of leadership that are used less but greatly needed in today’s military. A few of these are inspiring, caring, nurturing and growing your personnel.
It’s been said by many past leaders that if you support your people they will support you. I’ve heard the question asked how to recruit people to participate in squadron, base and community activities.
The answer is simple. You support and encourage them when they need it; whether it’s an intramural sport, church function, volunteer opportunity or a personal matter. The fact that you care enough to listen, be involved or support them is immensely important when asking for their support in return.
Respect is earned not given. Some may respect the rank or position but not the person. Your rank alone will not inspire people. You must engage them in not only day-to-day operations but what is important to them as well.
Most everyone knows leaders come in all ranks, genders and races. Once you show your people you care, they will open up and then the real fun begins with nurturing and growing. Nurturing comes in many forms and one of the first is active communication and listening. Discover their goals and what inspires them and match them with the goals of the organization. Your leadership and organization will be more effective.
There are those who believe the things mentioned above take too much time and effort, and the focus is on the individual as opposed to the team. To have the attitudes of me first and the military owes me something are detrimental to the United States military as a whole. When this attitude is prevalent in leaders the spirit, morale and organizational support suffers. I fully understand that there is a need to take care of yourself and your career, but it is essential to grow leaders of the future, applying the same effort put into your own career.
I’ve been fortunate in my military career to have supervisors, mentors, peers and coworkers who have instilled in me these concepts, and understand we are all joined together. They also implanted in me the importance of keeping that bond so as not to fail.
The words U.S. Air Force are over your heart for a reason; for the future of the greatest Air Force the world has ever known. So I challenge you to get out from behind your desk, inspire, care, nurture and grow our Airmen.