Leadership has no rank

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Suzie C. Dietz
  • 97th Medical Operations Squadron
I once heard the comment "leadership has no rank". Those words resonated with me while I contemplated on the intent of the true message. According to Webster's Dictionary, an inherent trait is defined as, "existing in someone or something as a permanent and inseparable element, quality or attribute." We've read about philosophers who have stated that leadership is an inherent trait, while other philosophers believe leadership is a learned trait. In either case, it doesn't really matter whether you are a born leader or you learned to lead. What's important is that when the need arises, you lead.

Therefore, if you're wondering as an Airman, no matter what rank, how does this pertain to me? You lead by setting a good example, following Air Force regulations and guidance, such as Air Force Instruction 36-2903. Also, you lead by not being afraid to speak up when you see your fellow Airmen straying from the standards; of course tact and respect goes a long way.

Leadership is also about innovation. Tech. Sgt. Bartek Bachleda, 54th Refueling Squadron, developed an ergonomically correct cushion and floor panel for the KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft. This Airman's innovation will result in reducing chronic back and neck pain that is prevalent in the boom operator's career field. Additionally, this will also lead to reduced medical costs, improvement in quality of life and ultimately lead to an increase in mission ready Airmen. This is just one of many Airmen who saw a problem, envisioned a plan and created a solution that will have a far-reaching impact in the future of our Air Force and the success of its mission.

Additionally, I had the privilege of meeting and listening to an inspiring speaker: The 5th Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, Chief Robert Gaylor, who told a story about putting your name on your mailbox. He said he's always working in his yard, even in the hot Texas heat. One day, a neighbor stopped by and asked why Chief Gaylor, who's in his early 80's, spends so much time performing physical labor. He asked why the retired veteran just didn't hire someone to do the work for him. His response was, "Because my name is on the mailbox." This applies to all of us as we all live by the Air Force Core Values: integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do."

Furthermore, when you think about the words, "leadership has no rank," think about the difference you make every day in ensuring mission success, and what you can do to continue to make a positive impact. Don't settle for mediocrity, but strive for excellence. Be a model Airmen, demonstrate and practice what you preach. Be proud of who you are, what you do, and where you work.