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 Staff Sgt. Adawn Kelsey

Continued education inspires new Creech tradition

U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Adawn Kelsey Master Sergeant Bryan Teeples, 15th Reconnaissance Squadron first sergeant, takes a selfie with Col. James Cluff, 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing commander, and Chief Mast...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo

F-35 and F-22 combine capabilities in operational integration training mission

U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo F-22 Raptors from the 94th Fighter Squadron, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., and F-35A Lightning IIs from the 58th Fighter Squadron, Eglin Air Force Base, Fl., fly in formation...
 
 

Our quest for zero

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. – Day in, and day out, we try to keep up with the hustle and bustle of the Nellis AFB mission; from the airmen basic replacing a sink facet to a colonel flying a training sortie, we all have some part in fulfilling this mission. The question is, how safe...
 

 

Airmen Powered by Innovation program launches new site

WASHINGTON — Fellow Airmen, Your enthusiasm and ingenuity continues to be our Air Force’s number one weapon system! In April we launched the Airmen Powered by Innovation program aimed at turning your ideas into real cost savings for our Air Force. Since coming online API has received and reviewed more than 2,400 ideas and that...
 
 
DoD
U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Spangler

Raptor demo team soars into sky

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE Nev. — Just as they do at many airshows across the nation, the F-22 Raptor Demonstration and Heritage Team from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, showcased the capabilities of the F-22 in the skies ...
 
 

Social well-being vital to Airman wellness

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — In order to accomplish the Air Force mission, and remain resilient to adversity, Airmen must maintain high levels of physical, mental, spiritual and social fitness. This quarter, the 99th Air Base Wing will focus on social fitness, by participating in events that focus on this Comprehensive Airmen Fitness pillar...
 




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