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What every Airman deserves

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- I recently got the opportunity to attend a graduation at the Senior NCO Academy where Gen. Kevin Chilton, commander of Strategic Command, spoke on one of his leading philosophies of leadership. He gave credit to one of his early commanders who demonstrated this philosophy and humbly admitted that though he emulated this leader, he was still trying to master this philosophy.

What General Chilton espoused was that he did not believe any Airman got up in the morning, looked themselves in the mirror and decided that they wanted to mess up today and because of this, he felt every Airman deserved the benefit of the doubt.

He explained that if this commander asked him to do something that he did not succeed at, he did not assume that he was incompetent or malicious, but rather that the commander had not been clear in his direction, taking responsibility himself for the breach. Then the commander would bring him in for clarification.

If again, he did not deliver, the general again did not assume that he was disrespectful or lazy, but rather that he as the commander had not adequately supplied this Airman with the materials, time or resources need to complete the task.

Again, as the commander, he took responsibility. If he still did not produce the desired results, the general figured there must be more to the story and would explore what was going on in this person's personal life that could be distracting them from the mission. Was it a sick child, financial difficulties, problems with a spouse or parent?

Again, he did not assume the worst of the Airman but felt that there must be something else that was contributing to his failure.

It is not difficult to see that this philosophy of leadership is time consuming and for that reason, many may not chose to adopt it.

However, at the core of this philosophy is the premise that we, as commanders should always take care of our Airmen, mentoring them, resourcing them properly and looking out for their best interest. When we do that, we take care of the mission.