Tenants ensure mission success
By Lt. Col. J. D. Webb, 90th Civil Engineer Squadron commander
/ Published December 10, 2007
F. E. Warren AFB, Wyo. --
Everyone in our Air Force is both a follower and a leader. While the Chief of Staff of the Air Force is our senior Air Force member, he follows the direction of our nation's civilian leadership. A junior Airman may not supervise anyone, but their actions, ability to follow orders and attitude certainly demonstrate leadership abilities.
As we learn in basic military or officer training and throughout professional military education, it's important for all military members to be good followers and good leaders, no matter what rank or position they may hold. As we progress through the Air Force, we all learn many aspects of our profession that hold true regardless of our status within the military structure.
First, work your boss' agenda. Nothing is more fundamental than understanding your mission and carrying out your assigned duties in a manner that supports larger objectives. I've always worked hard to support my boss or commander. This became more clear when I served with the Army in Iraq. In Army terms, this is "commander's intent" and clearly delineates the purpose for executing a mission. If the commander's intent was to get materials to a forward operating base, then we knew to push through an ambush and avoid the enemy at all costs; we needed to protect and preserve our resources for a greater mission.
The same holds true at home station. One of our boss' agenda items is to safely get people and equipment in and out of the missile field. Our security and maintenance teams are well prepared for anything: weather, poor road conditions, civilian traffic or potential adversaries. Safety is paramount, and we may have to make a leadership decisions to slow or stop a movement if people or resources are at risk. Having the ability to make a tough decision like pushing through an ambush or stopping a missile movement demonstrates exceptional leadership abilities.
Adhere to the chain of command. Just as we expect subordinates to use the chain of command and keep us informed, as leaders, we must also have the discipline to use the chain of command in seeking information from those subordinate to us. With the advent of e-mail, we can easily get trapped in subverting our chain of command. In a combat zone or when a home station crisis occurs, it's important we strictly adhere to the chain of command to ensure all levels of leadership can appropriately respond. Good followers and leaders must keep the integrity of the chain of command at all times.
Finally, successfully executing the mission relies on trust in your subordinates and leadership. Our core values of integrity, service before self and excellence convey trust at every level. Leaders need to have confidence that orders will be carried out while followers must trust that their efforts will be supported. Good leaders also verify and recognize work performance, which is a critical aspect of our mission at the 90th Space Wing. Trust is a two way street that instills assurance at every level that we will accomplish our mission while supporting and recognizing our personnel.
Every member of the Air Force should assess their role as both a follower and leader. Do you work your boss' agenda or have you clearly articulated your intent to your subordinates? Do you adhere to the chain of command? And do you have trust in both your subordinates and your leadership? Good followers and leaders adhere to these basic tenants to ensure mission success.