What’s your leadership philosophy?

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Michael Baker
  • 52nd Force Support Squadron Airman Leadership School
I'm sure we can all point out a few of our leadership's obvious strengths and maybe even some of their less-obvious weaknesses.

But with every changeover, I ask myself what really makes them tick? What motivates them? What are their intentions? What are their goals? Why are they here?

The answer usually comes after a few months of recognizing through their actions and words exactly what they expect from everyone. What's the purpose of waiting? Wouldn't it be so much easier if you could see, read or hear something that explained or answered all of these questions in the beginning? Something that told you what you were about to get yourself into. If you're like me, than the answer is a resounding yes.

The truth is that there are a lot of individuals in leadership positions who do not clearly define their leadership philosophy or what it is they want from their subordinates. Well how do we fix this? What can we do other than complain about their ineffective style of leadership and how confusing they can be?

The answer is we can break the chain.

We can ensure we have a clear leadership philosophy so our subordinates don't go through the same confusion we experienced. A philosophy that clearly states our values, priorities, vision and even an action plan will impart some sort of idea on what we want to accomplish while we are in this position. Establishing a leadership philosophy is beneficial to everyone, including you. Not only will it clear up what your subordinates need to know, it will help you recognize and build upon your own ideas and values. And if maintained and continuously refined, it will show you the development you've gone through over the years and how you've progressed.

When most people think about a leadership philosophy, they think of individuals with rank and titles: manager, superintendant, commander or even president. Granted, these individuals usually do a great job at making sure they are completely understood on what they expect to achieve. But why shouldn't that same mindset extend to the supervisors of work centers, team leaders, shift supervisors or even crew leads?

I often hear people say things like, "When I make master sergeant, I'm going to do this," or "When I'm in charge of the work center, I'm going to do that." Where does it say that you have to be a certain rank or hold a certain position before you begin to emulate the things other great leaders did? Why not do it now? They made it to where they are because they practiced the good examples of other great leaders.

Maybe some of you feel like you don't have a good example in front of you. Well, even a bad example is a good example on why to do it the right way. We should be learning from good leaders as well as the bad; and we can all start now.

I encourage everyone to establish a leadership philosophy. It doesn't matter what your rank or position is. Something that most of us don't understand is that we are already in a position of leadership. We all have someone in our life that looks to us for guidance; whether it's family back home, a peer in your office, a child who you coach or even a work center full of subordinates. Give them the full effect of what a true leader can be. Don't cheat them, and don't cheat yourself.

I heard a man once say, "A true professional is one who is professional at everything he does." Be a professional leader! I officially challenge all of you to develop, maintain and refine your own personal leadership philosophy.

Will you take the challenge?