A short, effective list

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Jeffrey Griner
  • 71st Medical Group superintendent
I have attended many luncheons, banquets and graduations in my 27 years of service and at most there was a guest speaker. They touched one way or another on their "list." Their lists for the most part dealt with traits of a good leader or a good follower.

Some dealt specifically with what it takes to be a good supervisor. Some of the lists were so long I cannot recall them now. My list is very short -- only three words that will make every Airman a better Airman -- responsibility, expertise and initiative.

We as Airmen have to be responsible, responsible for our own actions as well as the actions of those in our charge. If something goes wrong, take responsibility. Don't make excuses. Anyone can make a mistake -- just learn from it so you don't repeat it. Remember, a mistake is one thing, breaking the law is quite another.

Right now the Air Force is going through a cultural change in its physical fitness program and the change is significant. It is your responsibility to know how the new program will affect you and to make sure that you are prepared. Know your minimum standards and train so you can meet the four minimum requirements to obtain an overall passing score. To do less is shirking your responsibility.

Everyone is a Wingman; therefore we are responsible for those around us. We must act to keep fellow Airmen from taking the wrong path or making a stupid decision that could haunt them for the rest of their lives and careers. We have to be responsible for what we do and sometimes what we don't do. Be a good Wingman.

Webster's Dictionary defines "expert" as "having a high degree of skill or knowledge of a particular subject." I am always looking for the expert -- the one who knows their business and can communicate it clearly.

Each of us should strive to be that expert, the go-to-guy, the one that people seek out to get the right answer. It is more than just completing your required training. It is going above and beyond to learn all that you can about what you do. Know the Air Force Instruction(s) or directives that drive what you do.
Be the expert in your specialty. Everything you do should demonstrate your expert knowledge and ability. Perform at the highest level you are capable of don't settle for just getting it done.

Whenever I have the opportunity to speak to a group of promotees I always remind them that they have been selected for promotion, not on their past accomplishments, but on their potential to serve in the next higher grade.
I suspect that along the way these folks have taken the initiative, they have acted without prompting or direction. They have demonstrated that they have the expertise to know what needs to be done and how to it. Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Take the initiative and show that you have the expertise and ability.

Responsibility, expertise, initiative -- three traits I think have an overarching reach to many of the traits identified as successful attributes of a great leader. How you choose to perform in your daily duties will definitely have an impact on how others perceive you. Will you be perceived as a professional, the go-to-person, as one who is responsible for their actions, as one who is willing to step outside their comfort zone?

If so, you will set yourself apart, you will demonstrate the potential to lead and to serve at the next higher grade. You will be a better Airman.