Lead: Develop future leaders

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. James Morman
  • 22nd Operations Group
General Bill Creech, former commander of Tactical Air Command said "The first duty of a leader is to create more leaders."

My father was my first leader. He told me "Keep your nose clean, your mouth shut (I failed on this part) and your ears and eyes open; you might learn something."

He was right.

When you become a leader, do not start your "reign" by dismantling or ignoring the contributions of those who came before you. That, to me, is the mark of a weak leader and one who's not going to last very long. It's your job as a leader to study the history of your unit to respect it, and to teach it to the Airmen in your unit.

Know your Airmen. In the near future, or maybe today, you'll be some Airman's leader. Take the time to get to know your Airmen. Are they married? Where are they from? What are their career goals?

Teach them; guide them, and help them along the way, just like someone helped you. It's your job to give your Airmen a hand, but they should be the ones doing the work.

Respect your boss, Airmen, position and Air Force. Make things easy by showing up on time. Be ready to work everyday. Lead by example. Be unselfish and afraid of letting your boss and your Airmen down.

You don't "own" your Airmen, so treat them with respect and dignity. Take responsibility for both your Airmen's and your actions, whether they're good or bad.

If you have passion and enthusiasm, you attract passion and enthusiasm. Remember, attitude is everything, and it's contagious. I firmly believe flights, squadrons and wings take on the attitude of their leadership.

Be the best, no matter what you do. There is no such thing as "close enough for government work." I hate that phrase.

The Air Force, and our nation, does not want it to be close enough. We want, and need, it to be the best. There is no job in today's Air Force that is bigger or more important than yours. Don't ever let anyone tell you different.

Let your Airmen know how important they are to the success of our mission. Let them know where they fit into our mission. If you tell your Airmen something, they'll probably forget. Show them, and they'll remember. Involve them, and they'll understand.

Pay attention to those around you. Don't operate in a vacuum; believe it or not, you don't have all the answers. When problems come up, and they will, talk to those leaders up the chain, your peers and your Airmen. Most times you'll come to the root of the problem.

A wise captain once told me during an enlisted performance report feedback session to talk to both your friends and enemies. Her reasoning behind this was, your friends will tell what you want to hear; your enemies will tell you what you need to hear.

Don't do anything for a performance report bullet or medal. Do it because it's the right thing to do.

If you work hard, lead by example, and do the right thing, you will gain the respect of your superiors, co-workers, and those you lead.

When you write performance reports, or award or medal packages, treat each one like it is your own. If you don't have the time to do your job right, will you have the time to do it over? Take care of your people and equipment because they will take care of you.

So how do we create more leaders? You lead.