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Unity of Three Equals Success

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Joe Lindsey
  • 43rd Services Squadron Commander

As I was deciding on what topic to address in this commentary, it was important for me to come up with something that was relevant, yet simple. The proverbial light bulb came on as I was responding to a question asked recently by a staff writer of The Carolina Flyer. The paper was highlighting me for winning a major command-level award. The staff writer asked, "What do I try to strive for in my work environment?" My answer was "I strive to motivate team members to leave things a little better than they found them."

"Leaving things better" means putting the organization and its people in an improved position to meet the needs of customers. This happens only when the leader, subordinate and customer fulfill each other's expectations. If we don't know and meet what's expected, we won't get the desired outcome and will fail. Based on my experience, I'm going to present three important things each member of the trinity expects. 

Leaders expect subordinates to do their jobs, work together and take chances.

Do Your Job
The primary reason why you're part of an organization is to do a job. It's your duty to perform. When subordinates are not performing, I often remind them of the Air Force core value "Integrity first." It covers several moral traits --one of them being responsibility. "No person of integrity is irresponsible; a person of true integrity acknowledges his or her duties and acts accordingly."

Work Together
It takes teamwork to accomplish the mission. A couple of important points about teamwork: (1) Speak positively about each other and about your organization; (2) Help each other develop and grow both professionally and personally through mentoring and inclusion into sub-organizational groups; and (3) Take pride in each other's victories.

Take Chances
If you don't shoot, you can't score. You have to take chances. We have to strike a balance between accountability and being afraid to take a chance for the better. It's important to try new approaches to improve key processes and stay relevant in this changing environment. Strive to develop a climate that rewards creativity, but NOT one that compromises safety or encourages unnecessary risk. 

Subordinates expect leaders to have a clearly defined vision, consider them as insiders and recognize their efforts.

Have a Clearly Defined Vision
Your vision should paint a picture of the future state, clarify the direction of the organization and help members understand why and how to support the organization. If members understand what's expected and what the organization is trying to accomplish, it becomes possible to make important decisions at lower levels--creating a climate in which results and progress continually occur.

Consider Subordinates as Insiders
Communication is a prerequisite to good leadership. Unless it is detrimental to an organization, share information. The results will be inclusion and less rumors; thereby, making everyone feel significant. Subordinates feel significant when leaders take time to talk with them, listen and value their opinions.

Recognize Their Efforts
Despite what anyone tells you, people like to be recognized for their hard work. Leaders need to understand recognition does a couple of things. First, it keeps the force motivated. Secondly, it shows your appreciation. 

Customers expect service providers (leaders and subordinates) to display enthusiasm, pay attention and be competent.

Display Enthusiasm
Provide service with a smile. Customers should sense you're happy to be serving them. Remember, customers aren't inconveniences; they're the reason an organization exists.
Pay Attention
When customers are at the counter, your desk, or in your office, they expect to be priority number one. Things you should do include making and keeping eye contact; acknowledging you understand their requirement and not looking at your watch.

Be Competent
You must be able to service the customer effectively and efficiently -- doing things right, the first time. In other words, can you accomplish the task you in which you were hired?
The information I presented is certainly not new to most of us. However, it serves as a reminder to all of us--our organizations' reason for being is to meet the needs of our customers. We can only do this if we know what all the players expect.