Leadership Isn’t …

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Melissa A. Somers
  • 92nd Civil Engineer Squadron First Sergeant
I know, I know ... you're thinking why would I start this with, "Leadership isn't" instead of with, "Leadership is" right?

Well, that's because I want to take a slightly different approach.

We have extremely phenomenal leaders in our Air Force, both past and present. We are lucky to have a new wing commander here at Fairchild who is a true breath of fresh air. One who believes an honest day's work and our Airmen are #1 to our mission.

Well, it isn't his eagle wings that are going to make those things happen on this base; it's the conviction in which he says those things when he speaks that will make those things happen because the colonel has gumption and passion.

And that's what I'm getting at.

Leadership isn't about how many stripes you have on your arm or if you have bars or an eagle on your shoulder; leadership is a choice. Leadership is an attitude (remember this ... attitude determines altitude). Leadership is gumption (initiative, aggressiveness, resourcefulness). Leadership is passion (I call this a love for the game).

I in-processed a new airman basic into our squadron a few weeks back and when I told him I expected him to be a leader, he looked at me somewhat confused. But only for a moment.

This Airman was 24 years old and moving into our dorms. He was a mature Airman with some life skills behind him. He had a passion within him for coming into our Air Force and to wear the cloth of our nation. He came in with a secured job and was headed into that job, so he had gumption and attitude. He was ready to be a leader to other Airmen both on the job and in the dorms.

So I explained to him that leadership isn't always about rank. Sometimes just leadership by example is the strongest. Our actions lead when words don't.

We all know that in the military anyone can take a test and eventually make rank after senior airman. However, does that mean that person is a leader? Not always. Some are. Some succeed because they are destined to; however, most succeed because they are determined to.

One way that I found to improve my leadership characteristics was by one, taking professional development courses whenever possible (gumption!) and two, doing my own feedback on myself every so often (checking my own attitude).

First, write down what you feel are your three strongest leadership characteristics and then what you feel you can do to make them stronger. Then, write down your three weakest leadership characteristics and how those weaknesses affect the person and/or team that you lead.

Then do something with it!

Leadership is a choice ... not a position.