Lead, follow or step aside

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Suzie Dietz
  • 97th Medical Operations Squadron commander
"A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent." - Gen. Douglas MacArthur

We've been told time and time again what a challenging year 2013 has been. I couldn't agree more--with sequestrations, furloughs and the economy to mention a few. Over the next few years it's not going to get any easier, especially with the implementation of the force management programs with a projected reduction in force by 25,000 Airmen, as well as 550 aircraft, depending on budget relief. The time has come for each of us to step up and be the leader we are expected to be.

As a leader, it's not always easy to make the hard call, but it's our responsibility to mentor, listen and lead. Often times, I look over the "little brown book," also known as Air Force Instruction 36-2618, The Enlisted Force Structure. This book is packed with guidance and expectations of Airmen at every level, from the junior enlisted to the senior NCOs should be doing. This is a great tool, and I encourage you to become familiar with its material. It can be utilized during your mentoring session, along with various AFIs, Air Force standards and local policies. If you set the expectation from the start, provide the support and means to succeed, then it's up to each Airman to have the drive and motivation to make it to the next level.

Along with expectations, it's important to lead by example. We often hear, "Do what I say and not what I do," but clearly that is the wrong message. If we are to enforce the standards, then we are to set the standard and should expect to be held to the same.

Don't get me wrong, leadership is not a cookie cutter approach, it's situational. However, if an Airman doesn't meet the standard and was provided ample opportunity to do so, then they have chosen their fate.

It's our job to train and equip, and it's our responsibility to uphold the standards. In today's Air Force there is no room for those who get by from year to year. One of our Air Force core values is "Excellence in all we do," and that should be the measuring stick we live by.

Yes, these are challenging times. Whether you are in a leadership position or not, we all have a responsibility to lead, follow or step aside. We must always remember the decision we make today will have a lasting effect on our Air Force for years to come.

As Airmen, our ultimate goal is to take care of the Mission, Airmen and Family.