Lunchtime Leadership

(U.S. Air Force graphic/Airman 1st Class Nick Daniello)

(U.S. Air Force graphic/Airman 1st Class Nick Daniello)

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Walking into the Warrior Dinning Facility for the first-ever "Lunchtime Leadership Lessons" event, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I was told that a veteran was going to impart some of his experience with Airmen during lunch.

I grabbed my food and sat down. I was curious about what he was going to share.

The conversation opened with the questions: can you define ethics? What does it mean to have and practice ethics? How or do ethics change depending on the person or situation? Many answers were given, revealing a variety of personal definitions of ethics.

The veteran who spoke, Jimmy Smith, is a retired U.S. Army Sgt. Major and currently works in the Retiree Activities Office here. He shared a story that occurred when he was working at a leadership school and was faced with an ethical dilemma of doing what was right versus what he was ordered to do. He was asked by the commandant to sign off on someone's training records indicating he was done with the leadership course even though he had not completed the training. This was so that person could take another course sooner, and allow the commandant to fulfill a commitment he should not have made. Before Smith shared with us the decision he made, he asked the group of Airmen in attendance what they would have done in that situation.

A few Airmen provided different solutions, but all agreed doing the right thing was more important than following the order.

That's what the veteran said he did and told the person giving him the order he couldn't fulfill the request. He suffered reprisal by being removed from his position; but he said he's satisfied that he did the right thing, and that's what's important.

After that, Airmen from around the room shared some of their personal experiences about when they faced ethical dilemmas and had to make the decision to do what was right or what was asked of them.

I sat and listened to what was being said. Everyone who spoke made very good points about how in certain situations it's sometimes hard to tell exactly what the most ethical decision to make is, or, at the very least, that it's sometimes very hard to make the right decision.

I took away from this discussion as a general rule to always do what you feel is the best choice for everyone involved in the situation, not just yourself.