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Clear expectations guide Airmen, squadron

  • Published
  • By Maj. Elizabeth Eychner
  • 60th Force Support Squadron Commander
In the season of change of commands I'm reminded of when I first was a Mission Support Group executive officer and my group commander provided his "commander's intent." At that time I was a brand new captain and I'd never had a commander provide to me in writing what his expectations were. I liked the idea and eventually came up with my own commander's intent. I worked on it as I became a flight commander and eventually compiled one as my own when I became a squadron commander.

My commander's intent is focused on the people and the qualities which I believe Airmen should possess when executing the mission. I'm a firm believer that it's the people that make the mission run. It's my top 10 list and includes the following direction:

1. Be professional: Unrivaled professionalism and competency is the key to executing the duties of our jobs daily. This includes outstanding customer service -- enthusiastic, responsive, warm and helpful service with a smile. We have the ability in our jobs to make or not make someone's day.

2. Be honest: Your word is your bond. I trust each of you implicitly, until that trust is broken. Communicate constantly and when in doubt, over communicate. Don't assume the commander knows something. Be brutally honest and quick. Bad news doesn't get better with time.

3. Be tough: Set high standards and insist your people measure up. This includes uniforms, dress and appearance, customer service, competency, fitness, suspenses and paperwork.

4. Do not alibi: Don't spend time explaining why you can't do something, search for a better solution and make it happen. Develop a plan, institute a new idea, but don't make excuses.

5. Do not procrastinate: Make your weakness your strength. Those things you know you don't do well, turn them around to improve yourself or your operation. It's better to attack with a good plan today rather than a perfect plan tomorrow.

6. Do not tolerate incompetence: As leaders we are charged with ensuring our people are the best. We are responsible for growing our replacements.

7. Do not pretend to know everything: When we think we do, we've lost the battle. We are a transforming force, changes happen daily in people, programs, standards and budgets. Be willing to learn.

8. Know your chain of command: Use it first to find solutions at the lowest possible level. Allow supervisors to do their jobs. Exception: The commander's door is always open for those things detrimental to good order and discipline to include any type of racial, religious or sexual discrimination.

9. Know your people: Take care of them, provide mentoring and guidance, but don't coddle them.

10. Know your mission: In the 60th Force Support Squadron we have a mission to support Airmen and their families and our formal mission statement is "to ensure mission readiness for Travis through quality programs and timely, accurate and professional customer support."

I'd like to wrap up with one of my favorite quotes from Gen. George Patton.

"Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men," he said. "It is the spirit of the men who follow and of the man who leads that gains the victory."

I believe it is the spirit of the men and women who truly bring success and I know in the 60th FSS we create conditions to foster that spirit.

Through commander's intent a commander has an opportunity to shape and provide clear expectations to their units. I'd encourage all supervisors at all levels to take a minute to think about your commander's intent or leadership philosophy and share it with the Airmen you work with in order to enable them to meet your vision in executing the Travis mission locally and across the globe, at all times. When you are long gone all they'll remember is the legacy you left behind.