Leadership during tough fiscal times

  • Published
  • By Col. Brian G. Casleton
  • 97th Medical Group
 We are currently faced with unprecedented budgetary constraints driven by sequestration and a government shutdown. The strain is taking a toll on our people, yet we persevere, going above and beyond every day. Winning amongst constant challenge can only be accomplished through continued professionalism and leadership. How we maintain the winning edge is the real trial. We all want to be successful in everything we do and our job as leaders is to unlock this drive to succeed in others. How we do this is the difference between success and failure.

For many years I have used the PRIDE acronym to set the course for the organizations that I have been entrusted and to focus them on the task at hand. Over the years, I have modified the meaning of some of the letters to fit the circumstances of the times. Today, I define PRIDE as Preparation, Respect, Innovation, Discipline and Enthusiasm.

Preparation: Refers to the state of being prepared for specific or unpredictable events and situations. Preparedness is an important quality in achieving goals and in avoiding and mitigating negative outcomes. We must continually be prepared to execute the mission efficiently and effectively.

Respect: Mutual respect for one another: it takes all kinds to accomplish the mission in today's Air Force in an environment free from discrimination and harassment. Respect has great importance in everyday life. Understand what every member of the team brings to the organization, value their inputs and create an environment where all are welcome and comfortable.

Innovation: In line with Air Force's "Every Dollar Counts" and Air Education and Training Command's "Cost Conscious Culture" initiatives, it is imperative that we continue to find ways to work smarter and more efficiently with the resources we are given. With the given fiscal climate and no sign of improvement in the coming years, we can no longer continue to do more with less; so, innovation is the key to our future success.

Discipline: The instant willingness and obedience to follow all orders; respect for authority, self-reliance and teamwork. It is about doing the things we expect responsible people to do. Good leaders follow the rules they make. If a leader is not willing to stick by them, neither will the rest of the team. We set the standards that make this Air Force great through discipline and living by our Air Force Core Values: Integrity, Service Before Self and Excellence in All We Do.

Enthusiasm: Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm." You have to enjoy what you do; make it fun. The one thing we all control every day is our attitude, so, make yours a positive one and set the tone for those around you. Having a positive attitude is contagious. Be enthusiastic about life, your job and the mission and we will succeed.

Times are tough; we have fewer resources and greater constraints. For those in key leadership positions, there is the responsibility to provide sound leadership and direction for our organizations. Leadership is about influence. It is about creating an environment and culture where people want to do the right thing, the right way, at the right time, all the time. You create this environment through your mannerisms, your attitude, and how you are with people. Every task is important. No one Airman is more important than another and we are all leaders in one way or another. Given these uncertain budgetary times, I feel that, now more than ever, it is vital that we take PRIDE in our organizations and the missions we accomplish. Together we can make the 97th Air Mobility Wing and our Air Force a better place now and for the future.