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 illustration by Airman 1st Class Rachel Loftis

CDOS 2014 comes to a close

U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Airman 1st Class Rachel Loftis Many people view the Labor Day weekend as the end of summer and a last chance to travel, hit Lake Mead, fire up the grill or indulge in their favorite outdoor ...
 
 

Lomie G. Heard Elementary School faculty looking forward to new school year

U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mikaley Towle Dominga Romero (left), special programs teacher assistant, and Terri Gravnitz (right), early childhood special education teacher, prepare their classroom for the start of the new school year at Lomie G. Heard Elementary School on Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Aug. 21. The new school year...
 
 

Revisiting, examining four elements of leadership

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — Whenever I see a new revision of the Professional Development Guide, I find myself reflecting on an experience I had meeting an awards board almost 20 years ago. I was a young staff sergeant and my flight chief was a panel member. He came up with a question from the 1993...
 

 

Deeds, not words make ‘quiet professionals’

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — As I was preparing for my assumption of command of the 60th Aerial Port Squadron, I was learning as much as I could about the squadron. One thing I immediately looked at was our squadron patch, because I wanted to see the emblem that represents the squadron to the rest of...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Spangler

Joint U.S. forces train together during integrated Green Flag exercise

U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Spangler An F-16 Fighting Falcon from the 309th Fighter Squadron, Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., taxis to the runway during Green Flag-West 14-10 at Nellis AFB, Nev., Aug. 21. Green ...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay

Get your caffeine at Coolbeans café

U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay The Coolbeans Café, a coffee shop serving Starbucks is now open in Hangar 1003 to serve the Airmen of Creech Air Force Base. Airmen interested in getting out of their work cent...
 




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