Put the "LEAD" in leadership

  • Published
  • By By Chief Master Sgt. Janet Groberski
  • 4th Maintenance Operations Squadron
The Air Force has been my home for almost 28 years.

I have learned many lessons along the way and have had the opportunity to attend training and schools that our civilian counterparts could only dream of attending. I learned something from every supervisor I have ever worked for, in one form or another. But one thing that your supervisor cannot teach you is leadership.

Leadership forms the basis of success or failure and comes from within. If you were to ask 20 people what characterizes a good leader you would probably get hundreds of inputs. There is no single trait or characteristic, no personality feature that will make a person a good or ineffective leader. There is no one right style, one right way or one right method to lead.

It means taking that extra step to improve a process or ensuring that a task is done to the best of our ability. It is being able to inspire others to be the best they can be without being told.

It also means being able to make the tough decisions when they are needed. What follows are four principles of leadership that have helped me.

A leader is involved with the people whom they lead. It is not enough just to know the people on the shop recall roster. A good leader knows whether or not the person is married, has children, knows the work habits of those assigned and can spot changes that could signify whether or not that person has outside issues affecting their work. A truly involved leader is able to mentor, teach, lead, train and inspire confidence in the people whom they lead.

Lead by Example
Airmen should be able to learn from experience, from their supervisors and from their leaders. Supervisors teach many things -- career field knowledge, skills, performance requirements, dress and appearance -- the list could go on forever. Airmen will learn the basics of the job during the first year in training.

Experience is something gained over time. Leadership is developed over a career.

Be Ahead of the pack
Leaders lead from the front, but they are not afraid to delegate when necessary. There are multiple layers of leadership within an organization and many outstanding Airmen in positions to exhibit leadership skills and qualities. Whether a young Airman or officer, letting them develop and hone leadership skills early in their careers will serve them well in the future years.

Desktop Leadership
Get out from behind the desk. Be visible to the Airmen in the unit so they know to whom they should turn in a crisis or for aid when needed.

I once heard former Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Sam Parrish deliver a message called "High Tech, High Touch." He touched on the fact that, with highly technical work places, people have lost the art of communicating face-to-face.

I found this to be true a few years ago when I heard one of my troops complain that someone did not answer his email request. I thought about it for a moment and recalled that the person who failed to respond worked less than 40 feet away.

It had not dawned on this technically-proficient noncommissioned officer to walk across the hall and talk to the person to get necessary information.

We need only look at the history of America to see great minds, great leaders and thinkers at work. One of the great generals of the Civil War, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, had wonderful insight into leadership and management.

He held that leaders should lead by example, seize opportunities, be effective, know your competitor, teach important lessons first, be able to see the "big picture," recognize the limits of your authority and do not be afraid of new technology.

This ideology is more important today than ever. Leaders will certainly face many challenges over the next few years.

It is up to the leaders of today to prepare future leaders to manage the challenges that will surely follow.

By putting the "LEAD" in Leadership we can help develop our future leaders.