Leadership Ideas, Information and News

Friday, January 11, 2013

Disciplined, precise mission execution and engaged leadership

by Air Force Col. Dirk Smith
3rd Wing commander

1/10/2013 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Why do we come to work every day? There is one reason: to provide combat and mobility airpower for our combatant commanders in order to meet our nation's security requirements.

Do you realize how critically important each and every Airman is to the 3rd Wing mission? Every Airman can make a huge difference every day, one task at a time, one day at a time, and one Airman at a time. Each Airman, from airman first class to colonel, has a responsibility to No. 1 be an engaged leader and No. 2 foster an environment of disciplined, precise mission execution.

What identifies an engaged leader? An engaged leader knows the pulse of an organization and the importance of communication, teamwork and mutual support. We engage those around us by recognizing the value in seemingly small and insignificant actions that foster effective communication.

It only takes a few seconds to praise a fellow Airman for a job well done, or remind him or her to uphold high standards. Sincerity is defined by eye contact, a smile, a firm handshake and two words: "Thank you." These qualities within the unit go a long way toward making us a better team.

How can we be engaged leaders? Fostering an environment with open lines of two-way communication between supervisor and subordinate is a sign of engaged leadership. This professional and respectful feedback will build trust and result in clear, mutually understood expectations.

Engaged leaders know their people well enough to notice when things are going well or when a fellow Airman seems troubled. By establishing a culture of mutual support, all members of the team check each others' six o'clock and pitch in unselfishly when fellow Airmen have a bad day, make a mistake, or just need a break.

Finally, engaged leaders put the mission first and the team's success above personal goals and desires for recognition while serving their Airmen. Even our most junior Airmen, straight out of tech school can be engaged leaders.

What is disciplined, precise mission execution? Executing every step by the book, in accordance with technical orders and published instructions is core to our profession of providing combat and mobility airpower, on target on time.

Effective leaders execute the mission by knowing the trade and setting the example. We must be technical experts first and as we move up in rank and responsibility, broaden our scope of understanding and other technical disciplines.

Effective leaders keenly observe their subordinates on the job and set expectations for 100 percent compliance and accountability. A precisely executed mission is inherently combat effective and safe. Safe operations preserve precious material resources and most importantly, our people.

Every day on our flight line, in our back shops and our administrative areas, we have opportunities to make a difference, one day at a time, one task at a time and one Airman at a time.

Challenge yourself to recognize these moments and act. Don't be afraid to be an engaged leader and set a good example. Don't accept mediocrity or anything other than disciplined and precise mission execution.

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