Year of Leadership: Service before self

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Michael Koss
  • 341st Logistics Readiness Squadron Acting First Sergeant
We have all heard and repeated the Air Force's core values, "Integrity First, Excellence in All We Do, Service Before Self," more times than we can count. In fact, this wing has just experienced the latter, during a grueling, 15-day Nuclear Surety and Operational Readiness Inspection -- this on the heels of months of preparation including the "Thirty Days of Nuclear Focus" late in the summer. 

Gen. Ronald R. Fogleman, in the fall 1995 Air Power Journal said, "As members of the joint team, we Airmen are part of a unique profession that is founded on the premise of service before self. We are not engaged in just another job; we are practitioners of the profession of arms. We are entrusted with the security of our nation, the protection of its citizens and the preservation of its way of life. In this capacity, we serve as guardians of America's future. By its very nature, this responsibility requires us to place the needs of our service and our country before personal concerns." 

The mission of the 341st Missile Wing demands we place mission needs before our own; nothing less is acceptable in the nuclear business. However, this does not mean we have to sacrifice ourselves or our career goals in the process. When we are accomplishing our day-to-day mission, it is imperative we integrate the Air Force's core values into our routine. 

As leaders, we must set the example for our subordinates ("the service"), take the time to talk to them and explain the importance of seeing a task through while maintaining strict adherence to technical orders or Air Force instructions. We must get involved in our Airman's lives, ask them what they are planning on the upcoming, big four-day weekend; ensuring they have thought through the details like who's driving, what's the weather going to be like, etc. By getting involved with our subordinate's, we are placing the needs of the service before our own needs. The 341st MW benefits from our Airman emulating the examples we set and the Air Force benefit's throughout those Airman's careers. 

Service before self does not mean we always have to miss those all-important family events. Birthdays, dance recitals, soccer games will be missed from time to time but every once in awhile it comes time to place the family's needs up there in line with the needs of the Air Force. The service still benefits from this.Wwhen members take time away from work to spend with family and friends, they are able to relax and rejuvenate to better meet the demands of the mission. 

Twentieth Air Force Command Chief Master Sergeant Tammy Elliot, while speaking at the recent irman Leadership School graduation said, "Do not let the core value of 'service before self' be an excuse for you to miss family events. 

During this Year of Leadership, let's set aside just a little bit of time to remind ourselves the importance of setting the example for our subordinates and incorporating the Air Force core values into our day-to-day lives.