Airman’s Council president shares leadership perspective

Senior Airman Jameelah England Smith official photo. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kathryn Calvert)

Senior Airman Jameelah England Smith official photo. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kathryn Calvert)


The word “leader” never meant much to me until I joined the military. I used to think a leader was someone who held a certain position or rank. Now as much as we like to believe those go hand in hand, that is not always the case. I have gone through a fair share of good and bad leadership, but what I learned is the negative ones teach you more.

Negativity is the most contagious thing and it spreads faster than a wildfire. A culture is created when the majority accepts the norms. A good leader understands how important it is to create positive norms. Good leadership has taught me how effective you can be when you provide a positive, caring and respectful environment. Through my personal experience, I have come to understand an effective leader is someone who can lead from the front and the back. What I mean is being able to communicate and care about people no matter what level or rank. I have found the most loved and respected leaders are the ones who care. Let me say that again, a good leader is someone who genuinely cares. If you can gain someone’s respect, loyalty and love will always follow suit. Being a good leader is being able to empathize and simply understand. Most people just want to be heard and understood, if you can provide that aspect, you’ve won half the battle.

Actions will always speak louder than words so some qualities can never be fabricated. A good leader is confident even when in doubt. He or she makes everyone around them feel at ease and involved. There is no such thing as a perfect leader but if you constantly work toward leader qualities, you are on the right track.

The most important thing to understand is anyone can be a leader. Leading is the ability to help or guide anyone who needs assistance. Think about the last time you were there for a friend or family member. Believe it or not, you were leading. We all lead in some form, even at the junior levels. Although sometimes it is hard to see, you, todays Airmen, are the leaders of tomorrow. Even with my short time in the military, I know exactly what kind of leader I want to be because of my good and bad leadership examples. I constantly work toward becoming what I admire in a leader and never intend to stop growing and learning to be the best I can be.