Commentary

June 15, 2012

Leading across ‘tribal’ barriers

Commentary by Lt. Col. Clifford Rich
318th Training Squadron

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) — Twenty-first century technology and the 24/7 news cycle have made the world “smaller,” but over millennia human nature has not changed. We long to identify with and belong to a tribe. The myriad of patches, uniforms, ranks and patchwork of partner nation flags bear witness to that constant within our armed forces.

Competition normally serves as a healthy catalyst that challenges us to give our very best. But where ignorance or artificial barriers serve to frustrate the free exchange of ideas and lessons learned, “tribal” tendencies lead to lost opportunities, duplication of effort and waste.

Cross-talk and learned lessons can’t be accomplished when leaders are focused only on that which affects their “tribe.”

True leadership demands you ask yourself two fundamental questions: “Who else would benefit from knowing what I’ve learned?” and “I wonder if anyone else has dealt with this issue?”

From a more pragmatic standpoint, the growing budget scarcity we’re faced with demands that leaders seek innovative ways to team with nontraditional partners, better collaborate with existing mission partners, and encourage innovation across the Department of Defense enterprise as well as the interagency landscape. You may have to be the one to break the ice!

In a recent speech to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey spoke of “building partners” as the second pillar of the strategy to rebalance U.S. forces.

He also described 21st-century adversaries as networked and decentralized. He further stated, “We have to find ways to be a network ourselves … and that means a network of interagency partners internal to our government.”

Despite the increasing mandate for greater interoperability with the armed forces of our allies, effective partnering with other nations at the macro-level will continue to be a slow process if we cannot first learn to improve our capacity for teaming at the micro-level with those who reside on the same installation and in the same city.

Look around Joint Base San Antonio on any day of the week. Mission partners are already hard at work smashing stovepipe mindsets and reaching across “tribal” barriers.

Among the flurry of diverse activities, you’ll see a variety of ranks and service branches as well as partner nation students, instructors and administrators on the respective campuses of the Defense Language Institute English Language Center and the Inter-American Air Forces Academy.

Ultimately, whether you wear a suit or uniform to work, members of the armed forces are part of a much broader team than the unit to which they are assigned. Leaders must encourage their personnel to seek out teaming opportunities and embrace the broader sense of purpose that comes with being less tribal.

Will you lead by example?

“Individual commitment to a group effort — that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work,” said Vince Lombardi, a former National Football League coach.




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


 
 

 
U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Charles Larkin Sr.

First sergeant provides health, welfare for warriors

U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Charles Larkin Sr. Master Sgt. Phelipe Salinas speaks to his athletes during the 2014 Warrior Games at the Garry Berry Stadium in Colorado Springs, Colo., Oct. 2. Salinas is the first sergean...
 
 

Safeguarding, re-evaluating your digital footprint

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Social media is a great resource for Airmen and their families to share information and stay connected to relatives at home and abroad. Although many depend on these wonderful tools, recent events have encouraged us to re-evaluate our digital footprint to ensure our personal and professional information is protected from online...
 
 

October is Energy Action Month: ‘I am Air Force Energy’

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — Summer has come to a close, and we’re all looking forward to more tolerable temperatures in the coming weeks. Even better news — this means your power bill is likely to go down. But if you think you pay a lot for energy, imagine paying Nellis’ bill of approximately $1 million...
 

 

Taming ‘tyranny of urgent’

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. — Many Airmen lead incredibly busy lives, full of unfinished tasks that we often wish we had more hours in the day to fit it all in, and in our professional lives, budgets remain tight, the Air Force is shrinking, and we are challenged to do more with less. Yet...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Rachel Loftis

Armory: A home for weapons

U.S. Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Rachel Loftis Senior Airman Jaime Romo, 99th Security Forces Squadron armorer, puts a M-240 rifle away after clearing the weapon at the 99th SFS armory at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo

Nellis Open House brings history to life

U.S. Air Force photo The AT-6 Texan, which was originally flown in 1935 and flown here in the 1940s, will be one of many aircraft at the Nellis Air Force Base Open House on Nov. 8 and 9. It is a single-engine advanced trainer a...
 




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