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Empower your people

  • Published
  • By Col. Timothy Zadalis
  • 43rd Airlift Wing commander
As leaders and supervisors, it's our job to empower our people and create an atmosphere where Airmen feel comfortable offering ideas and changes. I always challenge all my Airmen, from the most junior to the most senior, to make a difference. 

When you get to a duty station you should take time to get to know your office and your job. Then you should look at all your processes and procedures, and see if you can make something better or easier...see if you can make a difference. 

At the end of the tour, ask yourself if you made a difference. If you did, then you're probably looking back saying it was a great base and a great organization. If not, then you probably have a sour attitude toward the base and the organization, and maybe you need to start considering another career. 

Making a difference begins with an idea, and the only bad idea is the one you keep to yourself. For example, at a recent wing standup meeting someone asked why there were so many of the same slides every week from one of the groups, and the answer was that it's always been that way. The answer to a question of why we do something shouldn't be, because that's the way we've always done it. We've saved almost 20 minutes in the meeting just by removing unneeded slides. 

The Air Force is downsizing by more than 40,000 people over the next few years. None of us can afford to do things the same as we've been doing them. We have to learn to work smarter and leaner than in years past, as is evident in our Smart Operations initiative. Pope is leading the way for Air Mobility Command in Smart Operations for the 21st Century. It's all part of making a difference in your organization and bringing forth your ideas for change. 

Another great example of making a difference is last weekend's Pope Floats event at the Pope Club pool. That was a fantastic idea. The Pope Floats started with a suggestion and Services took it from there. More than 200 enjoyed the evening of fun, free food, door prizes and fun. 

Changes are always taking place at Pope, whether it's all of us learning to work smarter with Smart Operations or Manchester Gate reopening or Woodland Park getting renovated. Pope is about to receive about $50,000 from North Carolina's Morale Fund, which is distributed among military bases in the state for renovations. Along with ongoing renovations at Woodland Park, some of the money will go toward putting down a rubberized base under the playground equipment. We all owe the State of North Carolina a lot of thanks for allowing us to provide better facilities for everyone. 

On a final note, I want to thank all the Airmen who supported the Joint Forcible Entry Exercise this week. It was my first, and it was amazing to see how the exercise tested capabilities as we work with our sister services. The exercise has come a long ways from the "Purple Dragons" I remember as a lieutenant. 

Keep safe, and be there for your wingman.