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
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
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
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
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,
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.