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.


 
 

 
Senior Airman
JAMES HENSLEY

F-35 pilot training underway

Senior AirmanJAMES HENSLEY Travis Byrom, Lockheed Martin instructor pilot, briefs students in the first F-35 Lightning II training course before the start of class May 5 at Luke Air Force Base. The students are Lt. Col. Sean Ho...
 
 

Everything I need to know about leadership, I learned …

I am sure you’ve heard of, or even read, Robert Fulgham’s best-selling book, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” Fulgham’s text resonates with many for the simplicity with which he describes “how to be a person.” Leadership in the 21st century Air Force is a much discussed topic, and one can...
 
 

Which one are you?

Have you ever worked for someone you felt was impossible to deal with? How about someone who you simply tolerated? Or have you worked for someone you actually really wanted to work for? What was your work environment like, and what was the attitude of the people among the different types of bosses? Let’s be...
 

 
Senior Airman 
DEVANTE WILLIAMS

Wild Weasels reunite

Senior AirmanDEVANTE WILLIAMS The Wild Weasels gather for a group photo during their reunion May 1 at Luke Air Force Base. The Wild Weasels were formed during the early days of the Vietnam War. Their mission was to seek out and...
 
 

News Briefs May 15, 2015

Leadership Gold Members of the Profession of Arms Center of Excellence are visiitng Luke to present Dr. John Maxwell’s Leadership Gold, which grows leaders and fosters teamwork, at 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 2 in the Navy Operational Support Center, Bldg. 300, Room 412. Open to civilians and all ranks of enlisted and officers....
 
 

AF announces senior selects

The following master sergeants have been selected for promotion to senior master sergeant: 61st Fighter Squadron Heather Hefner 56th Maintenance Group Christian Brandon 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron Paul Branstetter and Brian Leonard 56th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Andres Vasquez 308th Aircraft Maintenance Unit William Jennings 310th AMU John Taylor 56th Civil Engineer Squadron Tommy C...
 




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