Attributes to Leadership

  • Published
  • By U.S. Air Force Maj. Tassika Davis
  • 97th Communications Squadron
"Try your best, Every day, with a great Attitude, to Make it better than you found it."

The saying above is my own personal mantra--it encapsulates five key attributes that I believe are important to leadership--excellence, persistence/resiliency, attitude, continuous improvement, and team building.

First, "Try your best" speaks to approaching every task, no matter how menial or how complex, with our Air Force Core Values in mind. Specifically, it is an imperative statement intended to motivate and direct action; it is both a command and a request for you to strive for excellence in every task.

Next, it speaks to persistence because when you stop doing your best, you are likely to fail. The words "Every day" also speak to resiliency--facing each day with the same energy and determination takes strength of mind, body and spirit. It also means that you will never give up and never stop trying.

The third key attribute is attitude. Attitude is a decision. It is a little thing that can make a big difference. In the Air Force, most of what we do is customer-service oriented; and the old adage "Service with a smile" can make a difference in the lives of all parties involved. You cannot control everything around you, but you can control your behavior and how you treat those around you in each and every situation. Attitudes are contagious; make it your goal to have a positive attitude all the time.

Next, the mantra emphasizes continuous improvement. "Make it better than you found it" implies that you have to know your job so well, inside and out, that you can find ways to improve the process. Your unit may be a well-running machine, but even the best engines need tune-ups once in a while.

Finally, the last key attribute is hidden within the text--the capitalized letters spell out the necessary part of any mission - T E A M.  All of the previous key attributes enable the team to be successful. Our mission requires us to depend on one another. No organization or individual can do it alone. Too often, we think we can accomplish great things as individuals, but our mission is integrated and every person has an important role. When we work together as a team, we can accomplish much greater things than any one of us could do alone. As wingmen, we need to learn to be there for each other and always work towards the good of the team.

The team needs members who know their job, display initiative, are accountable and responsible, and treat everyone with dignity and respect. If every member tries their best every day, then the success of the whole team will be greater than the sum of the parts.

Building a successful team requires leaders to know themselves and to know their members--what motivates them, what drives them to be better team members and contributors. All members of the team need to have buy-in when possible so that they can whole-heartedly support whatever activity they are trying to complete. Team building is enabled by defining roles and responsibilities--clearly defining expectations and setting goals for the organization to strive towards. It is important when setting goals to make them challenging, yet realistic. Successful Teams communicate clearly and often with one another. Constant feedback is the only way a Team knows if they are doing well or not.

Ultimately, I want everyone to be excited about coming to work every day. I want them to feel like they are relevant and that they are making a difference with their efforts. So I will continue with my mantra--and try my best today!