Leadership: What has worked for me...|
Posted 11/2/2010 Updated 11/2/2010
Commentary by Lt. Col. Darin C. Driggers
319th Operations Support Squadron commander
11/2/2010 - GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- As we go through our careers, we work with many different personalities and many different leaders. There are those whom we work with very well and then there are those with whom we just can't figure out what they want or need. It is our responsibility to do everything we can to support our leaders and protect them, sometimes from themselves.
In my 19 years, I have found some things which have helped me and you might them find useful as you progress.
The first is to set expectations, whether that's of yourself in a given job or by informing your personnel what you expect of them. This erases any question which might exist and spells out to your people what you need from them and what they can expect to get from you as their supervisor or commander.
Once your expectations have been established, you must trust your personnel to do the job they've been given. This is a tough one, especially at first, but if you micro-manage them, they will lose the motivation and the original thought needed for your unit to succeed.
As your tenure proceeds, you will need to give honest and useful feedback to your personnel. They must know if they are fulfilling your vision or if they need to address things in a different fashion. If you are not honest with them, they will continue down a path and might not know it's not what you wanted until a performance report or lack of a decoration. Don't let them get blindsided, make sure they know where they stand in your organization.
Along the same line is to treat everyone on a fair and equal level, making sure recognition is given in the same fashion to each and every individual. If one group of folks gets different treatment for similar actions, the reaction might be poor and some may lose their drive to succeed.
Last, but definitely not least, is to lead by example, whether you are in uniform or not. As a leader, you must be willing to do everything you have asked your personnel to do and in some cases, be the first one to accomplish it. If your personnel see you "getting dirty", they might be more motivated to do what's asked of them and in turn, create a very harmonious environment. Remember, you are an example to your personnel at all times, not just while you are in the office.
Leadership is not black and white, nor is it the same for every personality style you have in your units. You, as a leader, must determine what works for a specific individual in a specific situation. Challenges will arise with communication, motivation and personalities, but you must figure out how to address all of them. Set your expectations, trust your people, give honest feedback, treat everyone fairly and be willing to do everything you ask of your personnel. At the end of the day, you must find what works for you the best. Good luck and rock on!