Lombardi coached with words to live by

Lt. Col. Gregory Rosenmerkel
435th Civil Engineer Squadron commander

***image1***As a lifelong and shareholding Green Bay Packer fan, much of my reading on leadership and success revolves around the writing of Vince Lombardi, my role-model of those things from my youth. Members of the 435th Civil Engineer Squadron are not new to my use of his immortal words.

One of my favorites is, “Lead-ership is not just one quality, but rather a blend of many qualities; and while no one individual possesses all of the needed talents that go into leadership, each man can develop a combination to make him a leader.”

It’s with those words in mind, the fact that we can always be better leaders, that I write this primarily directed at the youngest leaders in our Air Force, and the subject of this article is something you can improve starting today.

Something I’ve noticed throughout my career is a reluctance of young NCOs and officers to take the steps necessary to correct behavior at the lowest level, letting problems continue and escalate until they need to be addressed by more senior leaders.

I was guilty of that myself as a young officer, leaving corrective actions to more senior people, especially when they weren’t in my chain of command. It’s tough, especially for new staff sergeants, who a short time ago were on equal footing with the Airmen around them and lieutenants who are basically the same age as the Airmen they are charged to lead.

What I’ve told NCOs and officers is that if you want to take care of people, don’t worry about being the bad guy. It’s far easier on you and your people if you fix problems before they appear on the scope of the first sergeant and commander.

On the subject, coach Lombardi said, “There are occasions when being tough and hard immediately is the easiest and kindest way in the long run.”

Said more simply, if you want to be the nice guy, discipline your troops.

Here’s another gem. “There is only one kind of discipline; perfect discipline. If I do not enforce and motivate discipline, then I am potentially a failure in my job.”

Your unit, your flight and your people are a reflection of you. What may seem like minor issues compared with the tremendous mission we accomplish here at Ramstein, are measures of our success. Show me a troop in a sloppy uniform, and I’ll show you a troop who does sloppy work. Not always true, but I’ve found it to be more correct than not.

I ask that you start today to be the nice guy – by enforcing standards. It will result in Airmen you can be proud of and give you more pride in your success as a leader and your unit.

One final challenge from the coach, “Work and sacrifice, perseverance, competitive drive, selflessness, and respect for authority are the price that each one must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.”