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Chief's Corner - week of Oct. 1

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Leadership lessons I've learned wearing the Air Force uniform over the last 26 years

Putting pen to paper about what I've experienced since Feb. 26, 1985, is not an easy task, but one worth completing. I've been very fortunate over the years, as I have been provided the opportunity to learn new duties and gain new experiences at many different assignments. As I look back, I was fortunate to have had both good and bad supervisors. You're probably asking yourself why I would I consider myself "fortunate" to have bad supervisors?  To be honest, at the time I didn't find it a blessing, but in the very few cases of poor supervisory relationships I was involved, I was able to persevere and improve the situation not only for myself but for others in similar situations.  I've always believed I was a product of my surroundings, taking the best of those charged with leading.  Also, early in my career I made a conscious decision to utilize only the best qualities and traits of those before me to positively influence those within my area of responsibility. At the same time, I recognized the signs of poor performance and leadership, and ensured those negative traits were not displayed by me or anyone on my team. Through the years, many Airmen I have worked for, and with, have provided me so much wisdom and knowledge.  This information, and my efforts, improved the level of professionalism and excellence for me and co-workers, as we are all "works in progress."  I truly believe if you are capable of recognizing the difference between right and wrong then you should also be able to change the climate in your respective environments, for the better.  Taking the initiative to improve relationships in our work centers and work environments can be a difficult, and at times tricky task, however it is crucial to all of our mission successes.  The effort and energy required to make improvements may be daunting and dissuade you from being a leader.  However, regardless of your rank, whether you are an E-1 or an O-10, it's imperative we all take responsibility on all items commensurate with our rank and position.  You must have a positive attitude and a high level of effort.  Furthermore, these go hand-in-hand when undertaking tough leadership challenges and tasks.  The key is to utilize sound leadership judgment at the appropriate moments and levels to ensure your team or work environment will learn. Allow them to get the most out of any difficult situation, thereby producing stronger leaders for the future.   For some this information is nothing new, and quite honestly it's not rocket science; however it will require many individuals to question their resolve and require them to leave their comfort zones.  

Many of the lessons I have learned about leadership I learned while I was very young and not in uniform.  The basics of treating one another with mutual respect, or treating someone just like you would want to be treated are key to being a good leader.  I've also believed that everyone must lead by example; by never asking someone to do something they/themselves are not willing or capable of doing.  Having the courage to lead and to follow are key to our way of life.  Twenty six years later, I'm still finding things out about myself, and those I wear the uniform alongside.  Yes, many things about our culture have changed since I first put on the uniform, mostly for the better as our missions are ever changing.  Our demands are high; therefore, we must change in order to meet them head on.

Finally, I believe, from our first day in uniform, to the very last day in uniform, we should strive for improvement and excellence and to seek out the best of one another.  Only in this endeavor will we succeed and overcome.  "To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield."
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