Commentary Search

Self discipline key leadership quality

  • Published
  • By Col. Brian Pinkston
  • 927th Aerospace Medical Squadron commander
Good leadership begins with good Airmanship. The best leaders who I have seen succeed have found significance in their lives and have shown self-discipline.

In my opinion, their self-discipline drove a pattern of behavior which was fueled by the significance they found in their lives.

One person who has balanced these traits is a retired Air Force colonel who now helps people to overcome addiction by utilizing his skills as a psychiatrist in his local community. He is an avid pilot and always seems to maintain a passion for life. Dr. Weiss and his mentor, Dr. Jones, came up with what they call their secret for success in careers. People will want to work for leaders and promote them if the leader does the follwing:

● Get up
● Clean up
● Suit up
● Show up
● Step up
● Shut up
● Do your job
● Don't whine
● Appreciate the situation
● Contribute to a solution

Although this recipe seems simple enough, not everyone can manage all of the components consistently. Those who can balance will do much better than those who can't. If you don't already, try living by these rules for a day or two and see how people respond to you.

Being a successful leader assumes that you mostly have the first eight steps down. However, appreciating a situation and contributing to a solution are somewhat harder.
Sometimes being successful at this is seeing the bigger picture - in our case - that Air Force leadership is trying to improve upon the entire force when they make rules.

Sometimes it's seeing a Wingman in need and giving when you have a little extra. Sometimes it's keeping your head in a seemingly impossible situation, realizing that there will be another day and patience is the best course of action. Good leaders are always trying to improve these skills not only in themselves, but also in others. They also seek mentorship of others who have been successful in similar situations.

Finding significance can be harder than any of the rest. However, significance is the force that drives a good leader over the years. Many people find significance in having a family or helping others. Some find it through their life's work. The key component is that it drives you to continue to improve yourself and sustains you in hard times.

As the Air Force shapes itself to meet the demands of a tough budget and other world issues, every Airman must strive to improve his or her leadership skills. Whether or not you know it, every act of compassion, every small act of leadership and every demonstration of self-discipline is watched by your fellow Airman and your community at large. Maintaining a desire for individual success and community success will keep the Air Force strong through the coming years. Thanks for all you do to keep us strong!