Path to inspirational leadership evolving skillset

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- At some point in our Air Force career we will assume a leadership role. Leadership is an ever-evolving skillset that you will continue to develop throughout the course of your career.

The highest and most effective form of leadership one can hope to achieve is inspirational leadership. This is the level that we as Air Force leaders should strive to achieve. Inspirational leaders motivate their subordinates to take initiative, and empower them to implement positive change and seek continuous improvement in organizational processes. There are many effective leaders in the Air Force, but there are far fewer inspirational leaders. Inspirational leaders have a positive and lasting affect that will continue to influence the development of their subordinates long after they have moved on in their career.

Becoming an inspirational leader takes time, experience and unwavering dedication to the mission and the people that make it happen. However, you can start developing your skills by first becoming an effective leader.

A key element of effective leadership is being involved with your subordinates and understanding their values and what motivates them. Daily interaction and feedback (formal or informal) are excellent methods for understanding what's important to them personally as well as professionally.

You must be genuinely concerned about the well-being of those around you -- subordinates and peers alike. If you approach personal interaction as an obligation, people will typically be able to recognize if your concern for them is genuine, and a lack of sincerity may diminish your effectiveness as a leader.

Whether you are preparing yourself to assume a leadership role as a senior airman transitioning into the NCO ranks, or a junior NCO preparing to enter the senior NCO ranks, you must dedicate yourself to mastering the art of being an effective leader. Being an effective leader will be challenging at times and will involve making tough decisions.

Among those decisions may even be selecting which Airmen have earned the opportunity for continued service in our Air Force. You can help ensure that only the best are selected for retention by familiarizing yourself with the characteristics of effective developmental counseling and the leader's responsibility in the process. Use this tool to maximize performance and foster the professional growth of our future Air Force leaders.

As you advance through your career, encourage those around you to strive for excellence through the example that you set. Establish attainable, realistic goals and expectations for yourself and those you lead or influence. Always incorporate our core values of integrity, service and excellence into every endeavor and you'll be well on your way to becoming an inspirational leader.