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Challenge the Status Quo

Col. Carl Jones, 90th Missile Wing Vice Commander

Col. Carl Jones, 90th Missile Wing Vice Commander

F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. -- What do we do now? We have had teams visit our base and ask us what we would like to change about the way we do business. We are done with the working groups who developed a course of action for leadership to consider. We have completed the investigative portion of the Force Improvement Program.

Now it is time to take action. We find ourselves at a crucial stage in the implementation of change and it is up to us as Airmen to challenge the status quo. The only way for this wing to move forward from our recent past is for leaders to lead. We have to start with changing the leadership climate with a goal of doing our part to change the ICBM culture.

Changing the climates and cultures of a wing is a difficult task and requires consistency in leadership over an extended period of time, making it crucial we get started correctly. It makes sense to begin with changing the leadership climate, and that starts with taking deliberate steps to challenge the status quo.

We need to cultivate a climate that allows and encourages every Airman to identify the areas that need improvement and to develop implementable solutions. We must create a climate in which we treat every Airman with the dignity and respect that the Air Force demands.

Treating Airmen with respect may seem like a no-brainer, but we have all come to see that common sense is not always common. We have witnessed or heard of teammates placed in situations where their opinions weren't valued. We have seen environments where people are made to feel uncomfortable. We may have even had to endure a workplace where we were micromanaged to the point of frustration. Yet no one says a word to change the situation.

As leaders, we cannot tolerate work environments that don't allow our Airmen to reach their full potential. We must strive to create environments that empower Airmen to make decisions that enable them to accomplish the mission. Push responsibility to your Airmen. Challenge them to find efficient processes as they get the job done in a fiscally constrained environment. If we create a climate that allows them to have a tangible impact on the mission, we all win.

As we drive through this change, we need to remain committed to our goals. The leadership on this base will eventually rotate to different assignments. This summer, we will see officers and enlisted leaders retire and start the next chapter in their lives. We are faced with many force-shaping initiatives and the Airmen who have helped us initiate this change will not be around to see it to fruition.

It will be up to those of us who remain to bring the replacements into the fold. Embrace their ideas and give them the responsibilities they are ready for. Help them see that the nuclear enterprise is changing and they are a part of something greater than themselves.

It is the time to make a change. Begin to look at yourself objectively. Always treat one another with dignity and respect. Don't be afraid to identify a problem and recommend a solution. It is our job to change the climate. I truly believe we can do this. Challenge the status quo and let's see how far we can go.