Commentary

April 11, 2014

Personal improvement, goal setting all part of leadership

Capt. JULIE WHITEKUS
56th Medical Support Squadron

In preparation for the changes in regard to officer and enlisted performance reports, and force management issues, it is important to reflect on personal improvement and goal setting. This topic is close to my heart and revolves around leadership.

As officers, leaders and mentors, we can all benefit from refreshing our vigilance and attention to this subject. Having a “toolbox” in order to shape individual mission and vision is important. Some key points I have learned throughout my reading include the following:

  1.  No fear! The times I have failed myself in the greatest way are because I was afraid. Afraid to fail! With that being said, I have attempted to push myself to overcome physical, mental, emotional and spiritual challenges. However, in order to overcome these issues, you first must reflect on what exactly the struggle is and then set up a plan of attack. Follow through with your plan and do not jump out at the last possible second or make excuses. Schedule the half-marathon you told yourself you wanted to complete, get certifications that seemed unattainable and dedicate time to a relationship you thought was beyond repair.
  2. Do your job. I worked at Walgreen’s as a front store manager for a few years before going back to school for my doctorate. The one task I always dreaded was taking out the trash. While my job wasn’t to take out the trash, I did it because it served as an example to others that ours was a team and as a member of the team, I would do whatever was needed to get the job accomplished. I felt it helped motivate my staff. Additionally, it ensured my staff knew I would never ask them to complete something I hadn’t already done myself.
  3.  Ask for help. This last point is the hardest one for me. We all need to remember, none of us is Superman or Wonder Woman. Decide what tasks require your unique skillset. Use all your available resources to delegate responsibilities others can accomplish better. This gives your Airmen valuable experience and allows you to devote your attention to items that will paint the bigger picture. When I first started working for Walgreens they wanted me to do everything associated with running a pharmacy.

When I joined the Air Force it took me a while to realize I didn’t have to do everything, I could rely on my flight chief and NCOs in-charge to run the operations. They still came to me for my clinical opinion on grey areas but only because that is my unique skillset. This gave me the opportunity and time to focus on flight, squadron and group tasks that required my attention. This in turn, made us a more efficient and cohesive team.

With that being said, I have made many mistakes over the years, but I have always tried to learn from them. As leaders, it is important for us to also learn from each other and grow as individuals. This doesn’t happen overnight and requires a lot of persistence and patience. Leadership is also a constant continuum of learning and developing requiring a proactive approach. When woven together, the uniqueness and diversity of each of our abilities instills a fabric of unbreakable wisdom helping to achieve the mission.

Books that have helped me achieve key insight include, “Lean In,” by Sheryl Sandberg and “How Women Lead: The 8 Essential Strategies Successful Women Know” by Sharon Hadary and Laura Henderson.




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