***image1***When I think about leadership and organizational success, trains come to mind as a useful analogy. Just as all of a train’s components are essential and must work in concert with one another for it to reach its final destination, all Airmen play an important and integral role in helping the Air Force achieve its objectives.
Let me explain. To begin a journey we must first have an understanding of where we came from and where we wish to go — just like a train. In the Air Force, we rely on commanders to help us build a vision for the future. But this is only the start.
To reach any goal, we must take the first step. While this may seem obvious and rather simplistic, how many of us can truly dedicate our time to concentrate on only one objective? More often than not, there are 500 other competing interests for our time often making it difficult to focus on any one task.
And yet if you were to look around you would find our Airmen doing the impossible everyday. Even in the midst of budget cuts, longer deployments and increased responsibilities placed on our younger Airmen, they continue to rise to the challenge and exceed our expectations daily. Then why do I speak of vision and goals in an environment where our Airmen achieve so much?
To help you understand the importance of establishing a vision, I must refer back to the train analogy. Each Airmen, NCO, officer and civilian represents an engine of sorts. Each one of us can move the train down the track, albeit some individuals by virtue of their rank and/or position may have more pull, we all nevertheless contribute to our Air Force mission. The importance of a unifying goal allows us to focus our efforts and pull in the same direction in order to achieve a common shared goal. If we allow other competing interests to dictate our priorities, we might find we are slowing our progress or worse pulling our unit in different directions.
Take for example the upcoming Operational Readiness Inspection facing the 435 ABW next year. With it still one year away, it’s easy to justify setting it aside to address the more immediate tasks that are facing us daily. But an ORI is more than just an inspection, it is an assessment on our ability to deploy and to go to war-a task we can ill afford to get wrong in light of today’s global environment.
My challenge to you then is identify the overarching goal your team, section or squadron will champion and take the first step to achieve it. It may be to receive an Excellent on the ORI or improve a process by 5 percent. But whatever the goal commit to the vision, find out how you can help move our train forward, then jump on board and enjoy the ride.