Celebrate Your Leadership

  • Published
  • By Col. Leslie Dixon
  • 341st Medical Group commander
Over the last couple of years, we've been challenged greatly as an organization. History shows that when such challenges come, leaders must be prepared to lead. Hard work will be required and leaders must deliver.

I love the Airmen's Creed and our core values. They remind us of what is and should be at our center, the foundation of our leadership. Today's environment demands that leaders lead; they must direct and stay the course. We cannot afford pseudo, almost, fair-weather leaders. There is no place for this in our Air Force. Our Airmen and our nation deserve and expect more.

Recently a senior leader, while visiting our base, echoed a sentiment that has been said over and over again, 'It is easy to lead when times are easy, it is much harder to lead effectively when times are hard.' Over the past two years, we have gone where no one has gone before (I know it sounds a little "treky"). Yet, we have done just that. We have dove deep, turned programs and procedures upside down and demanded much of our Airmen. In the end we have survived, and even thrived, through the highest nuclear ops tempo in decades.

We all should be proud! It has taken initiative, motivation, long hours of often tedious tasks and inventive spirits all on the backs of Airmen who understood what was asked of them and engaged. And there to guide the way was a leader, one who believed that it would take everything we had to give to build the trust of a nation and truly reinvigorate the nuclear enterprise.

It may have been the non-commissioned officer who made sure that the young cop was fully prepared with gear in tow to post to the field. Or the maintenance troop who checked and double checked the tech order before proceeding, just following standards. It could have been the Tech. Sgt. who ran staff assistance visit after staff assistance visit to ensure our Personnel Reliability Program was perfect. Some would say it was the young operator on yet another check ride, just to make sure that he was always ready.

It's possible that it was the young Capt. Doc who said, "I'm the right guy to be the lead competent medical authority," and took our medical program to a new level. And yes, there were the chiefs and squadron commanders who swarmed the fields with face-to-face engagement. In my view they were all leaders, making the tough calls, facing the long hours to see more of the same the next day. Yet they knew and understood that what they were called to do doesn't happen often in one's career, a time when one can truly be part of history.

I often look back at the times over the past months when I've had to ask more of my medics. I could see how tired and frustrated they were, and they had good reason. After all, they had worked to the bone giving up time with their family and friends for months on end; when weekends were like week days. I'm sure this was the same across other groups throughout the wing. Often I would tell them that it is hard to pave the way for others to follow, when you must develop and execute guidance at the same time. The reward must be in knowing that, because you've led the way, you've made the journey much easier for others to follow.

What we achieved as a wing could not have been accomplished by hard work alone, but through the leadership of great Airmen who seized an opportunity and took the road to victory. Remember we all have the opportunity to be leaders. Do not underestimate the power of true leadership.