Tough times require leadership

  • Published
  • By Maj. Mark Snow
  • 22nd Director of Staff commander
This year has been a tremendously tough year for the Air Force. We have seen the resignation of our two top leaders.

Couple this change with the growing mission, operations tempo, and decreased manning we face, you see the need for strong leaders. Strong leaders have the ability to take care of their people, inspire them to succeed, and get the job done despite challenges.

What is leadership? There are many definitions; however simply put, leadership is defined as the act of leading.

General Bernard Montgomery of WWII said it best defining leadership as "the capacity and the will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence."

I was recently told a true leader is one who has followers, those that will do anything for him and follow that leader anywhere he goes.

Leadership is all about influence. This is quite a simple perspective, but very strong.

There are several things a person needs or actions they must do to be an effective leader. The things and actions I find most important are leading by example, taking care of my people, and showing compassion.

The first asset of leadership that all leaders possess is the ability to lead by example. You have to lead from the front and not be afraid to face the many challenges head on.

You need to take advantage of the opportunities provided to military members in education; be involved in the community; take leave that you earn; and most importantly take the time to support your families. If you don't, your people will think the job is too important to do.

The second thing a leader must do in order to be effective is take care of those they lead.
Can you imagine an organization where leaders didn't take care of their people? Chances are, the morale would be extremely low or most of the people would have separated or volunteered for a permanent change of station.

A leader needs to look for opportunities for all their people to excel. These include training, new assignments and jobs, schools, and positions that bring increased responsibilities. You must also provide your people the tools they need to succeed, be it computers or fighting for manpower.
Subordinates will follow a leader that is not afraid to fight for them. Bottomline, your people are your most valuable resource.

Finally, a leader needs to have compassion. Get to know your subordinates, so you can see things from their perspective. By all means, do not jump to conclusions or try to solve their problems.

Listen to their issues and concerns. Chances are you have experienced something similar in your career and can help them. Support their promotions; welcome new babies; say happy birthday; and support them through tragedies. Be genuine and your Airmen will follow you when you make the time for them.

I attended the senior non-commissioned officer induction ceremony, Aug. 22. There were 48 newly appointed SNCOs all eager to assume new responsibilities and leadership roles.

Chief Master Sergeant Alan Houchens spoke to the inductees and charged them with leading by example, taking care of their people and themselves, and stepping up to be a leader in these challenging times. These are very important nuggets for all leaders to pocket.

Now, let's go and become more effective leaders because our service is calling.