10 lessons in leadership

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Anthony Bickerton
  • 726th Air Mobility Squadron
As a superintendent I have many important roles and responsibilities, but none are more critical than the development of future leaders.

When it comes to that task, I rely on the timeless words of Col. James Moschgat, a former 12th Operations Group commander. His advice is as priceless today as it was back I first read it several years ago. I would like to share with you what he referred to as his 10 Lessons in Leadership:

1. Be cautious of labels. Labels you place on people define your relationship with them and your opinion of them. A statement like "he is just an Airman" could limit their potential for growth. Likewise, don't tolerate "I can't do that I am only a lieutenant." You should inspire your protégés and colleagues to meet challenges head on not sit back on the sidelines and wait. 

2. Everyone deserves respect. Just because an individual is an "Airman" or "lieutenant" does not diminish their contributions to the unit or mean they do not deserve respect. Everyone is a hardworking member of the team and should be a treated as such. 

3. Courtesy makes a difference. Be courteous to those around you. Military customs and common courtesies help bond a cohesive team. Heartfelt greetings, expressed appreciation and acknowledgments can often change demeanor in people. 

4. Take time to know your people. Life in the military can be hectic. Always take time to get to know the people you work with. You never know, one of them might be a hero in the making. 

5. Anyone can be a hero. Don't sell your people short; anyone of them might be the person that rises to the occasion when duty calls. It is easy to turn to your proven performers when there is a problem, but don't ignore the rest of the team. Today's rookie could be tomorrow's superstar. 

6. Leaders should be humble. Most celebrated, respected leaders are often too busy tackling the next issue. They don't have time to gloat and celebrate their successes. They look at their success as "just doing their job." 

7. Life won't always hand you what you think you deserve. People in the military work hard; don't you think they and deserve recognition for their efforts? Sometimes you have to persevere even though accolades do not always come your way. Perhaps you did not win that quarterly or annual award even though you thought you deserved to win. Pursue excellence no matter what you do and soon your chance to shine will come. 

8. No job is beneath a leader. Never think that any job is beneath your dignity. Don't be afraid to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. The junior grade personnel will take notice and have greater respect for you later. 

9. Pursue excellence. No matter what task life hands you, do it to the best of your ability. Dr. Martin Luther King said it best, "If life makes you street sweeper, be the best street sweeper you can be." Model this philosophy and make your unit the best one on the installation. 

10. Life is a leadership laboratory. We often look to some school or professional military education class to teach us about leadership, when in fact life is a leadership laboratory. People you meet everyday will teach you enduring lessons if you just take the time to stop, look and listen. I have spent countless hours studying leadership in PME classes but some of the best lessons I have learned are from the people I have met throughout my career. I have observed the traits and characteristics of effective leadership and have also seen ones to avoid. Don't miss your opportunity to learn from those around you.