Commentary

May 16, 2014

Leadership: Develop your style

Master Sgt. HOWARD SUGGS
56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron

We all may have heard the saying, “Lead from the front and not from a chair.” We are familiar with those supervisors who stand out on the front lines, leading the way, and sometimes we work to fit that specific mold.

However, we must take the time to develop a leadership style that best suits our personality. There are many books, articles and self-help classes on leadership. While authors seek to teach us how they became leaders, the paths chosen and illustrated may or may not be conducive to our own personality type.

It is important we understand and develop our leadership style with ourselves in mind. There is not a one-size-fits-all effective leadership style; it differs with each person’s strengths — empathy, integrity, communication, inspiration and diligence, to name a few. We should be mindful that our leadership style may have to be adjusted at times to fit the task or the personnel we lead. As leaders, we must be flexible and willing to adjust to the changing environment.

I once had a supervisor who was an email leader. He would email notes, roll call and even daily tasks. When he was moved to another section in the flight, we actually found out via email. It was the last email sent at 4:30 p.m. on a Friday from his new office. As a young Airman I knew my preferred style as a leader would be face-to-face communication. I ran into him several years later and joked about how he would send a hundred emails a day. He told me his reason was he had faith in us and our ability to get the job done. He shared with me that in his next section he had to adjust his style. He would email his notes and tasks, but follow up with face-to-face meetings. He adjusted his leadership style to fit the personnel he served.

When it comes to developing a leadership style, one should reflect on past experiences and learn from past supervisors. This makes it easier to adjust leadership styles to meet the needs of the future.

In this ever-changing world and most especially in this field of work, we should be mindful that we supervise men and women from all parts of the country with a vast array of experiences. Our ability to look at circumstances and look at our personnel should help drive our need to adjust our leadership styles accordingly. After all, we cannot expect different results by remaining constant.




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