Leadership Ideas, Information and News

Monday, November 14, 2011

Command Chief Master Sergeant: Leadership, taking care of Airmen should be the culture

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By Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. John Orrell
National Guard Bureau

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -Taking care of Airmen, getting help when help is needed and leading through engagement is the wingman concept the Air National Guard must continue to embrace, the senior enlisted advisor to the chief of the National Guard Bureau said here last week.

Speaking to senior enlisted members, junior officers and select outstanding junior enlisted members during the Air National Guard’s 2011 Enlisted Leadership Symposium, Air Force Command Chief Master Sgt. Denise Jelinski-Hall passionately reminded everyone of the necessity of taking care of each other.

“Taking care of our Airmen – it’s important – to create that culture of getting help if help is needed,” she said.

“Their wingman is there, their supervisor is there catch them, to help them, because … you’re engaged, you’ve got eyes on your Airman and taking care of them – that is what is expected of each and every one of you, to ensure we are taking care of our Airmen.”

Focusing on leading through engagement, Jelinski-Hall went through what she called her 10 leadership points.

1. Have a strong work ethic
For this point Jelinski-Hall said it may not be as simple to achieve as it is to explain, but like everything it will take work, focus and drive.

“To achieve any level of success, it takes hard work,” she said. “It takes work, time, effort, commitment, dedication, sacrifice to ensure you give an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.”

2. Maintain a strong foundation of core values
Jelinski-Hall said she centers this leadership point around faith, family and life core values, such as integrity, trust, teamwork, doing the right thing and having that inner courage to ensure Guard members stand up for what is right at all times.

“It’s that foundation that as an Airman you are going to continually reach back on, and draw upon, when things get tough.”

3. Attitude, it all begins with attitude
“Everyday it begins with bringing the right attitude to the fight, to the office or wherever you are,” she said. “Have the right attitude. No one can give you that attitude and no one can take it away from you.”

It is up to the Guard member to decide what their attitude is going to be like, she said.

“You chose it everyday – when you wake up … you choose how you’re going to come to work, how you’re going to treat your employees,” she said.

“Attitude will determine your aptitude … and if you’re going to be successful in life you [need] to have that right attitude.”

4. Continual growth of self-development
“Education is absolutely a strategic imperative,” Jelinski-Hall said.

Self-development is also professional education, finding a mentor, being a mentor and volunteering for opportunities to get out of comfort zones, she said.

“Put yourself on a path of self-development. Take advantage of different courses.  Use your opportunities for training,” Jelinski-Hall said.

“Put yourself out there – expand yourself. One thing you can do is to ask a trusted colleague … three questions – ‘What do I need to stop doing? What do I need to start doing? What should I continue to do?’” she said. “Seek out those mentors and ask those questions.”

5. Be ready
“Opportunities come and go, sometimes they’re fleeting and it’s just that crack in the little window … where you’ll be able to sneak in when that opportunity happens,” she said.

It’s about Guard members being available when needed and positioning themselves for the call.

“No matter what level of success you reach continue to ask the question – ‘What do I need to do to prepare for the next thing?’ - so when that moment happens, and leadership taps you on the shoulder … and says it’s your turn, it’s best if you’re ready.

“Give leadership every reason to select you,” Jelinski-Hall said. “You have to prepare for that next opportunity.”

6. Strategic Risks
Guard members should not be afraid to take strategic risks, she said.

“Sometimes in life to go forward you need to do a little lateral side-step, or sometimes you may have to take a step back,” Jelinski-Hall said.

“Think strategically and take that risk. The path is not always straight … there are multiple ways to reach a level of success and leadership. Think strategically about how you are going to accomplish the goals you have set for yourself and your organization.”

7. Reach up, reach down, reach out, reach in
Jelinski-Hall said this point takes work from all Guard members throughout the chain.

“Reach up to supervisors, mentors and read Air Force Instructions.

“Reach down – when you achieve a level of success – it is an inherent responsibility as an Airman to bring someone up with you.

“Reach out to your community – serve, volunteer.”

“And the most difficult is reach in. Reach in to know and understand yourself. Determine your strengths and weaknesses so you can maximize your true potential.”

8. Professionalism
Throughout a Guard member’s career this step should be a constant in everything they do in uniform and out, Jelinski-Hall said.

“Uphold the highest standards of professionalism, both civilian and military,” she said. ‘Be true to those core values. Do what’s right. Treat everyone with dignity and respect and be the best Airman that you can be.”

9. Respectfully don’t take “no” for an answer
Telling a story from when she was trying to become a command chief master sergeant and was told there was no way it would happen for her, Jelinski-Hall said she respectfully questioned why, and took the time to find out how she could, instead of settling for the “no” she received.

“Trust but verify the answer when you are told ‘no’,” she said. Don’t accept the saying “no you can’t” and take the time to research the facts and try to find the “yes you can” solution.

“Many of us ask the question, ‘Can I do it?’ That’s the wrong question. You need to ask, ‘How can I do it?’ It’s a different mindset: It assumes you can already do it – and you can,” Jelinski-Hall said.

10. Be a fire starter
Jelinski-Hall said this point is there to remind Guard members to enjoy what they do or else they become ineffective.

“Have passion and conviction for what you do.  You have to have passion for what you do. And if you do, then this is not work,” she said.

“Get out there and ensure what you do you enjoy. Be excited about what you do, and have conviction to do a good job with that.”

She added that Guard members should use her points as a framework to develop their own throughout their careers, but to not forget how they got there and who helped make it possible.

“We stand on the shoulders of great leaders who have come before us, and you now are charged with doing the very same thing for those coming after you,” Jelinski-Hall said. “Break that glass ceiling and ... make things better for those you lead, those you serve, for those that come after you.”

It is that attitude of leadership and hard work which will allow the Air National Guard to continue building off its history and make things better for future Guard members, she said.

“The skills and ability we have in our National Guard … are the best, not only in America but the entire world.” Jelinski-Hall said. “I am so proud of everything you do each and every day to defend the flag that unites us in purpose.
“Give absolutely everything you have – that’s the difference in all things.”

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