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Lead by example; maintain high standards

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Kelly Roth
  • 6th Communications Squadron commander
While I've never been known as an inspirational speaker, I believe actions speak louder than words. I've outlined a few key guiding principles that have directed my actions over the years. Lead by example, empower your people, exceed the standards, and take care of your people.
For those of you who are in leadership positions and those working to become strong leaders, you need to lead by example by maintaining the highest moral and ethical standards. Have the courage to do the right thing even when it's not popular. Be competent in your field and always be a mentor to your subordinates. You are our Airmens' advocates and must not only care for them, but also their families' welfare.

The Air Force core competencies cannot be just a bumper sticker; you must believe in them and make them a part of your daily life. You should expect and demand your subordinates do the same. Don't lead from behind a desk, get out and talk to your folks as much as possible. With a face-to-face conversation, you can garner more information and ensure understanding of what you are trying to convey then with an email.

Empower others to take initiative. Young leaders must be given the opportunity to think on their own, establish a plan and execute it. We must foster an environment where Airmen are challenged and mistakes are learned from. Although responsibility cannot be delegated, authority can, give your Airmen the opportunity to lead. We must ensure our Airmen understand the standards and are supervised and mentored so that the learning experience is a positive one.

If you think meeting the standard is good enough, then you need to rethink your profession. You must always strive to exceed the standard in everything you do and expect nothing less from your fellow Airmen.

Take care of your people. Provide them with leadership and mentorship. Ensure they have the resources and training necessary to effectively and efficiently do their job. Ensure they are given and take time off to recharge their batteries and be with family and friends. Finally, ensure they are recognized if deserving.

No matter if you are in-garrison or deployed, every job is important and ensures our success in protecting this country. Every day we must strive to do our best. I leave you with a quote by Douglas McArthur that has guided me over my career:

"A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent."