Do common things uncommonly well

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Rich Parsons
  • 52nd Civil Engineer Squadron
In my years of service, I have found some common traits of great importance to me, not only as a person, but as an Airman and a leader.

Character, charisma and commitment are traits that we should embody, and all of these common traits, if displayed uncommonly well, can increase the likelihood of successful leadership.

Character can make or break a person, not to mention leadership ability. Character is the peculiar quality or the sum of qualities by which a person or a thing is distinguished from others. On one end of the character spectrum, there are qualities that one would want to follow or emulate, and on the other end, there are qualities that would not benefit anyone. If a person fails to exhibit the proper character traits, it is unlikely they will be an effective leader. There are some misguided folks who might still follow this type of leader, but they soon find out they made a mistake.

Character is something developed over time, based on a person's values and beliefs, as well as the people who serve in influential roles throughout that person's life. Values are typically learned either from family, friends or life experiences. Just as a person can have a change of values as they progress through life, so, too, can their character change, perhaps by way of a solid, mentoring relationship. So, strive to keep your character on the "follow or emulate" side of the spectrum. While character is one of the common things great leaders should exhibit uncommonly well, the same can be said for charisma.

Charisma is a leadership trait complimentary to character. Charisma is a personal magic of leadership arousing loyalty or enthusiasm. It can also be described with words like allure, appeal or "oomph." Whether you opt to use the word "oomph," enthusiasm, charisma or some other word, the choice is yours. After all, it is not the word that is important, rather the action that is taken by the individual.

Charisma must be genuine and matched to your personality. If it's seen as shallow or fake, then you will likely not achieve the results you are hoping for. You may even push people away. Be natural in your ways, let folks get to know you and they will know when you are charged to do something -- even if it has less "oomph" than others. Although this might not seem like a common trait for some, it is important you make your own "magic of leadership." Do this uncommonly well, and you can inspire others with your enthusiasm, and in-turn receive unexpected loyalty. Equipped with an uncommonly-solid character and infectious charisma, you are prepared to take on leadership with an unwavering commitment.

The last common trait leaders should exhibit is commitment. Commitment means a strong belief in something; enthusiasm for something and a determination to work hard at it; or a duty or responsibility. There are a few buzz words in the definition that stand out. I like belief, because it ties back to the first trait -- character. It is the strong belief in something that is likely to cause a person, and in our context, a leader, to act a certain way. Hopefully your beliefs are in line with what most would consider an uncommonly good character. The word enthusiasm relates well with the common leadership trait, charisma. That brings me to the last buzz word -- responsibility. A true leader should take responsibility for leading Airmen. As a leader, I guarantee you will be held responsible for those who you are charged to lead.

Be a leader who does the common things uncommonly well. Be a leader with revered qualities that will allow your character to speak volumes without a single spoken word. Strive to be a leader that Airmen are eager to follow, because you have a natural "magic" leadership quality, which can only come from genuine charisma. Embrace the fact that being a leader is an important aspect of your career, and make the commitment needed to be the best leader and supervisor possible. There are many other qualities and traits I could have focused on, but for me, the leadership traits of character, charisma and commitment are three common things leaders should be able to do uncommonly well.