Year of Leadership: On my best day . . .

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Lloyd Buzzell
  • 341st Missile Wing Director of Staff
On my best day, I say the right thing, do the right thing and stop the wrong thing from happening -- even when others will not. On my best day, I speak up and question things that, in my gut, I feel are wrong or against our core values. On my best day, I step up and challenge the reason behind the action being taken when I don't believe in it.

When people can freely challenge what they don't think is morally or ethically correct, they have created an atmosphere that keeps their organization focused on the right objectives. Our organization, the Air Force, builds this climate to be the normal behavior among our members. Our core values are its foundation.

If we have built the right climate and atmosphere in our unit, there will be no problems.
Even our youngest Airmen can recount a tale of someone who acted morally or ethically against our core values. When you are prepared to step up and question a situation that doesn't seem right -- even if you are the only voice against it -- you display character. If you can look into the mirror and face yourself after standing by your decisions, you have done well. Your character withstood the test and I guarantee you, others will stand by your side. If not, I wouldn't want to be in an organization that doesn't create belief in values that treat others fairly and whose members aren't honest with each other. In our Air Force, we have vowed to follow those values that hold us to a higher standard than our civilian counterparts.

Regardless of rank or position, every Airman is a leader in our Air Force. Some day, some where, you will be directly challenged by this character conundrum, if you haven't been already. Remember -- we are Airmen 24/7!

Whenever you feel something is morally or ethically wrong, you need to stop and ask your supervisor, shop chief, senior NCO or commander to explain why you must do it that way. If they can't give you a solid reason, than you must decide how you should handle it. This is when your character is tested in our organization. This is when our organization needs you.

Twelve years ago, I thought I would be fired because I took a stand during an IG inspection preparation. If I didn't get fired for taking this stand, I decided to resign from my position and suffer the consequences. However, after presenting my challenges to my supervisor, he changed his mind and we handled the situation in a different manner. I kept my job and it merely reinforced my commitment to be even better prepared the next time. 

Don't let me mislead you -- it took everything in me, to include a sleepless night, to gain the courage to confront my supervisor. However in doing so, it was like a weight being lifted off my shoulders.

Most of the time, situations are not that dramatic. They can be handled with a gentle reminder that what is happening is not morally or ethically correct. Once a person voices his or her concerns, other people will normally stand by them and stop the unacceptable behavior. That's what Wingmen do for each other.

This applies when you are both on duty and off. Remember again -- we are Airmen 24/7!

The key here is to think ahead about these potential situations and have the character to stop what is happening when you come across them, knowing they are morally or ethically wrong. You will, sooner or later, be put in one of those situations.

Our moral and ethical actions, and reactions, formulate our character.

On my best day, I do the right thing. I encourage you to anticipate being challenged to do the same and be ready when you are also called upon to do so.