A cut above all others

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Sabina C. Garrett
  • 71st Medical Support Squadron commander
One of my fellow squadron commanders recently wrote an outstanding article on the importance of being both a strong leader and follower. He was right on the mark.

The traits of leadership and followership are gained through training, experience and lessons learned as we encounter both success and failure in our lives. It is so exciting to see the engrained passion in our military leaders as they strive toward a set purpose that offers a clear compelling reason for duty.

I am convinced that our Airmen of today joined the military for these same reasons. They seek to make a difference and to gain education and training for a distinct purpose in life. I truly believe that we must nurture the growth of Airmen from the start to adequately prep them for the role of both leader and follower.

As I meet with each new Airman that joins my squadron, I am in awe at the talent and dedication that continues to walk through my door. They come from varied backgrounds, heritages, and beliefs but yet share one key commonality -- an engrained sense of Integrity, Service, and Excellence. These Airmen embrace our Core Values and bring strength in diversity to meet the growing mission needs of the Air Force.

In my one-on-one sessions, I clearly lay out expectations for adherence to Air Force standards, striving for growth in technical job knowledge and challenge them to step to the front as a leader. That opportunity frequently presents at squadron fitness sessions and in the duty section. Sometimes it occurs when walking down the hall and given an unexpected opening for a mentoring moment with a fellow Airman.

Leadership growth takes effort on the part of each Airman. They must stand strong for what is right, which is not always easy, but is always a necessity. I tell each Airman that they are indeed "a cut above all others" and with that comes the responsibility to present a proud image of the Air Force, no matter when or where. As I look at my Airmen, their bright eyes respond back accepting this challenge without a word.

Leadership is highly valued and we must nurture and inspire our tech-savvy Airmen with a balance of education, training and solid real life experience to develop skills such as judgment, decision making and problem solving to bring out the embedded leader within.

My challenge to you is that we must be responsive to growing our Air Force leaders of tomorrow. Without doubt, our Airmen are "a cut above all others" and prove it each and every day.