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S.T.A.R.T at the Beginning

  • Published
  • By Col. Dennis Beatty
  • 6th Medical Group commander

Five Definitive Leadership Principles for Success:
In 1995, when I was a senior captain, the Honorable Sheila E. Widnall, Secretary of the Air Force and General Ronald R. Fogleman, Air Force Chief of Staff, approved the core values for the United States Air Force; Integrity first, Service before self and Excellence in all we do. Sixteenth Air Force Chief of Staff, General Michael E. Ryan described the core values as "setting the common standard for conduct across the Air Force. These values inspire the trust which provides the unbreakable bond that unifies the force. 

We must practice them ourselves and expect no less from those with whom we serve." These are enduring in nature and are embedded in the culture of the United States Air Force. 

In addition to core values, it is common for us to follow certain leadership principles, whether from military leaders and instructors or from the civilian community, government or industry. I also hold to a set of leadership principles. They were neither developed by myself or during my time here at MacDill. Rather their origin goes back to the 45th Space Wing at Patrick AFB, FL back in 2002. 

At that time, the wing commander was preparing the wing for an upcoming Operational Readiness Inspection, not unlike the on-going preparation here at the 6th Air Mobility Wing for the Unit Compliance Inspection in August. He gathered his wing leadership together for a weekend retreat to discuss key aspects of the preparation. What they came away with were the S-T-A-R-T leadership principles. 

Whether it was these principles or the intense efforts of this wing commander and every member of the wing, the result was an unprecedented "Outstanding" score from the ORI inspectors. The remainder of this article describes the five simple S-T-A-R-T leadership principles: Synchronize, Trust, Accountability, Recognize and Tenacity. 

SYNCHRONIZE: the first START leadership principle and possibly the most important is all about communication and coordination. Communication is important in all of its forms; written, verbal and electronic. The key aspects of effective communication are completeness, accuracy, and timeliness. 

TRUST: no one person can accomplish the entire mission on their own. I personally have to place great trust in each of the 6th Medical Group Airmen, civilians and contractors to meet our mission. To effectively accomplish the mission, I have to trust that each person within the unit is performing their duties at the top level of their skill sets. Trust must exist up and down the entire chain of command. 

ACCOUNTABILITY: With trust comes accountability. Just like trust, accountability must be maintained up and down the entire chain of command. One of my favorite quotes comes from my group superintendent, Chief Master Sgt. Lewis Singleton, "It's about Leadership, not Like-Me-Ship." Holding individuals accountable for getting the job is the most difficult of the START leadership principles and equally crucial to mission success.
RECOGNITION: While accountability may be the most difficult to execute, recognizing individuals for superior mission accomplishment may very well be the most fun and rewarding, especially from a command position. Recognition can take many forms including medals, time-off awards, quarterly and annual awards, PME awards, letters of recognition, commander's coin presentations, etc. 

TENACITY: The final and my favorite START leadership principle is tenacity. I have run into few leaders that emulate perfectly each of the five START leadership principles however, many have been extremely successful by excelling in others to overcome weaknesses. To successfully accomplish the mission we must all be persistent. I often equate this leadership principle with ceaseless efforts and energy to get the job done. 

The 6 AMW's vision is to be the Best Wing in the Air Force. Aug 3 through 10, we have the opportunity to show how outstanding we are. Each of you will have the opportunity to employ the S-T-A-R-T leadership principles described above in the final preparation for the Unit Compliance Inspection and during the week the inspectors are here at MacDill, whether its fine tuning documentation, ensuring family care plans are complete and accurate or working together as a team, tenaciously executing checklists successfully during an Emergency Management exercise. The outcome will have nothing to do with luck, so I won't wish the best for you - it has everything to do with Leadership and with that I expect the very best.