Commentary

June 27, 2014

Culture change requires new way to think

Capt. AJ ZORN
56th Civil Engineer Squadron

The racist comments made by Donald Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, shocked the nation and were met with extreme displeasure by most Americans.

Though the details can be heavily debated, it’s safe to say that most Airmen believe the comments were inappropriate for one reason or another. In the infamous recording, Mr. Sterling tries to explain why he has the views he does. He blames it on the culture he was raised in. Though many find that excuse lacking, I believe we use that same excuse in our Air Force on a regular basis.

Over the last couple of years, the culture of the Air Force and the military in general has been heavily scrutinized. Serious issues, such as sexual assault and cheating, have grabbed the headlines and the attention of the public.

There are many behaviors that happen in the Air Force that are written off for reasons such as “That’s the way those guys are,” “It’s in our blood,” or “We’ve always done it this way.”

Really? Are we OK with that explanation? Or is it that it’s simply an easy answer to give rather than dealing with an issue head-on? If we’re honest about it, it may mean that we have to do more work and change things that we’ve become comfortable with.

I think the biggest fallacy that must be dispelled is the idea that your job “requires it.” I’ve heard certain groups justify their behavior because they “have to keep an edge,” “deal with life and death,” or “operate as a family.”

Where in any of those explanations do derragotary comments or degrading behavior actually help? Are we so blinded by the way we’ve always done things that we believe these actions continue to help the mission get accomplished? I recognize that our military is rich in tradition, but using that as a default justification for unacceptable actions can be a dangerous practice.

For example, there was a time that women weren’t allowed in the military, and before that, African-Americans. Thankfully, that time in history is just that – history and no longer true.

A destructive culture can hurt you in two ways.

First, you hurt the members of your own team. Maybe you’re personally OK with an off-colored joke every now and then, but it’s not OK when you introduce it to the work place and force it on others. It sounds cliché, but ask yourself, “Would I want my wife, son or daughter to hear this? Is this the kind of environment I’d want them to work in?” If the answer is no, perhaps you should address it.

Second, it forces the chain of command to waste time on the consequences of behavior rather than the mission. Believing that a negative culture has no consequences is naïve.

So ask yourself, “Does my job really need this? Will this make my work center function better?” You’ll likely find that some behaviors are based more on preference than need. This is a question that must be answered at every level of leadership. If we don’t, we’re only limiting ourselves.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
square

Luke conducts first F-35 training deployment

Senior Airman Thomas Spangler A 61st Fighter Squadron F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter taxis prior to take off April 15 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. Ten F-35s from the 61st Fighter Squadron were sent to Nellis for th...
 
 

The gift of leadership

Gen. Mark Welsh III may have said it best, “Leadership is a gift. It’s given by those who follow. You have to be worthy of it.” As the people of this nation give their children up to serve in the armed forces we as leaders need to be ready to lead them as they are...
 
 

Have faith in Air Force system

Throughout our Air Force careers, we have all received extensive training covering the Air Force core values — integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do. We talk about them on a daily basis in one capacity or another using them as buzz words to drive our point home or steer a...
 

 

Sidewinders fly missing-man formation

A missing-man formation flyover took place at the Air Force Academy Cemetery April 14, to honor a fallen Airman whose remains were repatriated and laid to rest. Pilots from the 311th Fighter Squadron of the 54th Fighter Group from Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, flew it. Capt. Richard Chorlins, U.S. Air Force Academy class...
 
 

Birth of a flagship

Courtesy photo An F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter taxis at Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth, Texas, facility just before its first flight March 31. This jet is one of several Lightning IIs destined for Luke Air Force Base in the near future after flight testing. Tail number 5056 is scheduled to be the 56th Fighter...
 
 

News Briefs April 24, 2015

Days of Remembrance There will be a Holocaust remembrance ceremony at 10 a.m. Thursday in the Luke Air Force Base Chapel sanctuary. The Hiding Place exhibit will be on display 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday and 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. May 1 in the chapel annex. AFA golf tournament The 16th Annual Air...
 




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