Common sense, simplicity play role in leadership

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Arizona -- There are numerous resources describing the attributes of extraordinary leaders, and one could spend countless hours sorting through data to supplement their toolkit. However, as with most things, common sense and simplicity should play a factor in any leadership situation. Throughout my Air Force experience, I have witnessed the same basic and successful qualities in people I have found to be effective leaders.

Brave leaders take measured risks based on data and personal beliefs for the betterment of the organization and the Airmen in it. Bravery means having the courage to face failure, and the strength to be an innovator. One way to encourage bravery is to create a greater sense of security by creating a culture in which Airmen feel comfortable engaging in calculated risk. Leaders who create a culture where Airmen feel comfortable taking reasoned risk often reap great rewards.

Often, kindness arises from empathy, the ability to share and sense the emotions and feelings of others. A self-aware leader is an empathetic leader. The Golden Rule, "Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you," seems straightforward enough, but can be a complex social interaction.

As we are all aware, the cultivation of a positive work environment will have a direct impact on the mission.

Although innovation can arrive from inspiration, it is more often the result of raw determination -- the belief that there has to be a better way and the courage to pursue it.

A leader who exhibits a creative, daring and productive approach to solving challenges can be threatening to others. The push to innovate requires bravery, and innovation by definition means doing something that challenges the status quo. Leaders must take that leap of faith, enable others to take risks, and engage in creative practices.

A leader with self-awareness displays a clear sense of identity, purpose and a distinct style of interacting. Without self-awareness, characteristics such as bravery or kindness lose their power. For instance, bravery without self-awareness can be reckless and even dangerous. Innovation without self-awareness can often seem more chaotic than cutting edge.

Self-awareness enables leaders to not only have a greater sense of self but also a wider view of the role they play. By acting with a clear sense of identity and purpose, and by maintaining a distinct, consistent way of interacting with others, leaders communicate and inspire more effectively.

Leaders can be inspirational. A leader who exhibits excitement and enthusiasm for a shared vision unites and aligns Airmen to create success. Inspiration begins with that larger vision. We all want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves - cogs in the wheel of workplaces that thrive, where people are passionate about how and what they contribute.

Keeping leadership simple can go a long way. Leaders that attend to the needs of their Airmen are repaid for their efforts. By promoting self-awareness and mindfulness, we can create workplaces that are challenging, enjoyable, and rewarding which benefit Luke, the Air Force and the mission.