Challenging Times Require Collaboration

  • Published
  • By Col. Robin L. Schultze
  • 92nd Medical Group commander
The challenges Team Fairchild and our country have faced during this calendar year have at times brought us to our knees, either because of the sheer weight of what has happened, or in supplication and prayer. At times, we don't know how we are going to make it through because the challenges seem too daunting. The current national crisis feels like adding insult to injury.

How are we to find the strength to survive these challenges and even find success? Each of us handles challenges in our own way, some effective and some ineffective. The key to survival and success, at least in my mind, is leadership. We have formal leaders on this base such as our wing commander, group commanders, and squadron commanders. We also have leaders of all ranks and positions, from our most junior Airmen to our most senior flight NCOs and officers. And as leaders, we are all teammates.

John Maxwell, author of many works on leadership, says that the quality most needed among teammates during the pressure of difficult challenges is collaboration. We must work together to get through this. But being collaborative is not always easy, and it may require us to change in four distinct areas.

We must change our perception. We must see our teammates as collaborators and not as competitors. We are all in the same boat, and while our individual, squadron, or group challenges may not be identical, they are similar enough in nature that we need to realize we cannot compete with each other.

We must also examine our attitude. As teammates, we must support each other and not suspect others of undermining behavior. If we trust each other, we are more likely to create collaborative relationships.

We need to shift our focus. We must concentrate on the team and not ourselves. This is a relay race, not a single event, and if we focus on the team, we will be able to successfully pass the baton when necessary.

And finally, we must produce results. We can create great victories through multiplication...collaboration. Collaboration harnesses and releases the skills of individuals as well as everyone on the team.

Do I think Team Fairchild has a long journey to become collaborators? Absolutely not! We have already survived so much this year that I know we are already a collaborative team. Is there room for improvement? Always! We can always get better, we can always learn something new, and we can always sharpen our processes. And I know that is possible because when we are all in the same boat, goodness is shared among teammates.