Good leadership begets good leaders

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Christopher McGhee
  • 756th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
As military members we all can relate to leadership, whether as an airman basic in basic military training relying on element leaders, dorm chiefs and ultimately the assigned training instructor; or a squadron commander who is tasked with leading those below him, as well as adhering to the leadership above.

When someone is a good leader, it can be hard to identify specifically why. Conversely, a poor leader typically displays traits than can be easily recognized as detrimental to the mission as well as morale.

The Air Force has provided all of us with the Core Values. This gives us a basic guideline on how to be a good military member and is foundational for good leadership. Acting in line with the Core Values provides all of us with a true north for good leadership.

There are cut and dry negative leadership qualities, and some require sound judgment to walk a fine line between good and bad. But by using the Core Values, you can identify negative leadership qualities and behaviors.

When a leader is selfish, they place their own needs or wants above others. Realistically the followers can't accomplish the mission in a long-term sense. If their needs are not being met because the leader is too self-absorbed to take care of them, the mission suffers. More importantly, those beneath the leader feel underappreciated and have no inclination to do their best. Ultimately, the leader will fail because there is no drive by the followers to work for someone else's benefit alone.

Also, when a leader is incompetent in his job, subordinates lose faith in him or her. How can a leader make informed decisions if he doesn't understand the task at hand?

Striving for excellence makes for a better leader; it results in more proficiency and, at the very least, displays a genuine motivation to improve for the betterment of the whole.

When a leader is dishonest, it immediately impacts his credibility as well as the morale of his followers. Worse still is when a leader misrepresents subordinates by deferring his or her own failures and placing blame on his followers. Being a leader requires strong moral convictions to do right by those who have placed their trust in him. When that trust is broken, it is counterproductive to mission accomplishment.

Each one of these examples is in disharmony to the Core Values. Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do. But sometimes the waters get muddied. When this happens, it requires a strong leader to take an honest look at himself and make the right decision.

Being a good leader isn't easy; in fact it is the opposite. It requires strong character both personally and professionally. Some people define integrity as doing what's right when no one is looking. But being faced with adversity is what tests our mettle and makes us stronger in the long run. Staying focused on the Core Values, and integrating them into personal and professional life goes a long way into grooming an excellent leader.