• Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Max Dombroski
  • 22nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
I have had the pleasure of serving in the Air Force for 21 years. When asked to write an article related to leadership I thought long and hard about what to say. I wanted to share my thoughts on one important aspect of leadership with you, competence. John Maxwell wrote “Competence goes beyond words. It’s the leader’s ability to say it, plan it, and do it in such a way that others know that you know how and know that they want to follow you.” I have always felt this to be true.

I once read that competence by itself can’t make you a leader, but without it one can’t be effective. An incompetent leader has almost unlimited opportunities to be ineffective. I believe that especially in the Air Force, professional competence is vital. It does not mean a leader needs to know how to do everything, but they need to know what resources are available to them to get things done. A great leader knows their own weaknesses and surrounds themselves with expertise they personally do not have in an effort to better themselves. Socrates is credited with saying “one who clearly knows best what ought to be done will most easily gain the obedience of the others.”

I think one of the factors that made our Air Force the best military organization in the world is that we celebrated competent leaders from day one and built the pursuit of competence into our DNA. From the first day in basic training with my training manual and the task to learn every word in it, to my day-to-day activities now, the Air Force has challenged me to become more competent as an Airman, leader, supervisor, manager and an Aircraft Maintenance professional.

I encourage all of you to take advantage of all opportunities such as distance learning, reading AFIs, college classes, PME and technical schools to learn your specialties and the profession of arms a little bit better every day. One of the things that always puts a smile on my face is when a member of my unit says, “Chief would you like to know what I just found out?” I also find that drive to know the job of being an Airman better is infectious and makes those around you raise their game.

I have always been proud of our service’s motto. Aim High is the first verse and ties to the value of competence in our force. Sometimes as supervisors we spend a lot of time on the many other traits of leadership, but I would like you to remember that competence is one trait we can all not only aspire to, but achieve. With a little bit of hard work, each member of the Air Force can become a highly competent wingman, leader and warrior.