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Setting the Right Tone

  • Published
  • By Col. George Farfour
  • 90th Missile Wing vice commander
As a leader, you are judged constantly by supervisors, peers and subordinates. Your actions, dress and appearance and your presence evokes a time-honored military axiom -- you lead first and best by example. My father once told me, as long as at least one other person has sight, you are a leader. What he meant was others are always watching you. That makes all of us leaders. In large organizations a leader is often solely judged by what others see them doing. In the military, we wear distinctive uniforms which give our actions increased scrutiny. The more rank you have, the greater your responsibility to act always in a manner that brings credit to the military.

Recently, several high profile failures of military leaders have highlighted just how much damage one can bring to an entire organization. When one in uniform fails, we all share in that failure to some extent -- deserved or not. We enjoy the privilege in our nation of holding a high position of respect and honor. We stand together to continue that position, not by simply wearing the uniform, but by our constant vigilance to live the values and ethics of that uniform. From those that wore a three-pointed hat to those who wore blue and gray, olive drab, BDUs and ABUs, we are one in maintaining honor must earn it -- every day, by our actions.

Leading by example, whether it's the newest Airman or the most seasoned officer, is not always easy. It is a daily commitment to excellence embodied in our Core Values.

Every aspect of life is encompassed in our responsibility to lead by example -- that example sets the tone.

Respect for other human beings is a central tenet required for any leader to be successful. When we allow even the slightest quarter to those actions, less than total professionalism, we dishonor our service, our uniform and those we are committed to fighting with. Harassment, discrimination, or disrespect, overt or covert, can manifest itself and grow into sexual assault, self-denigration, low self-worth, poor morale and low unit cohesion. Tolerating offensive actions, materials and jokes is beneath the bar and damages all we hold dear.

We in uniform hold a sacred trust with the American people and each other. The example you display daily is the greatest way to influence others and live the code of honor we're duty bound to maintain -- it sets the tone for everything. Absolutely, no uniform or rank gives you an expectation to by-pass the essentiality to lead by example. You are a leader simply by the example you set. As General Patton said, "you are always on parade." Someone, and more often many, are watching and learning by what you do. Every day, in every action, you have to earn it.

Seven Keys to Setting an Example to Be a Good Leader
By Kristen May, Demand Media

Establish a Clear Vision - Good leaders know where they are leading their employees.

Communicate - Maintain clear lines of communication among yourself and the people who work under you.

Command Attention - If your team respects you, you will have their attention whenever you need to say something and they will respond appropriately.

Listen - Nobody likes leaders who refuses to listen to the ideas, suggestions and concerns of those they are leading.

Provide Direction - As the leader, it is often your fault if an endeavor does not succeed.

Chip In - Just because you're a leader, that doesn't mean you are exempt from chipping in to help when the people who work under you are bogged down.

Be Visible - Let others see what you are doing and how hard you are working by maintaining a steady presence.