Humility in good leadership

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Daniel Lamothe
  • 22nd Aerospace Medical Squadron
There is a lot that goes into being an effective leader in the U.S. Air Force, but I find the most important ingredient to start with is humility.

Humility isn’t thinking less of oneself; it’s thinking of oneself as no better than anyone else. It’s understanding that we all contribute to the mission in equal measure, maybe through different competencies or at different levels, but every Airman is essential and valuable.

This kind of thinking requires a deep appreciation that any perceived strengths a leader may possess or any position of authority a leader may rise too aren’t solely the result of that person’s efforts or talents.

For me, strengths and successes in my life are a result of two things: my personal faith and the people in my life who have invested in me over the years by supporting, guiding and mentoring me along the way.

These two things have given me a sense of indebtedness and gratitude that have shaped how I lead. As I reflect on these two things, I remain utterly convinced that my only true purpose as a leader is to be a servant indebted to those who came before me and be dedicated to paying it forward to those who will take reins of leadership from me.

The reward of this kind of leadership is simply the opportunity to help Airmen succeed, to propel the mission of the Air Force forward and ultimately help in the defense of our nation and our way of life. Leadership should never be viewed as means of gaining anything for oneself. It is solely a chance to give back.

For me, when I’ve long since retired and am nearing the end of my days, I want to know I enriched the lives of those around me and did what I could to motivate, mentor and guide those who I’ve had the privilege of leading and serving. Leadership is easy, but good leadership, unselfish leadership, takes humility.