Leadership skills are timeless

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Teresa Skojac
  • Commander, 45th Aeromedical Dental Squadron
My son, Cadet Joseph Skojac, recently returned from USAF ROTC training. During his "debrief", we discussed his misadventures. When he told me about his experience as Squadron Standardization Officer and how he was responsible for standardizing the Camelbacks, it reminded me of one of the core leadership principles: we are responsible for and take credit for the actions of others.

That is one of the core principles of leadership. Whether it is an NCO motivating their Airmen to complete training or a cadet ensuring the Camelbacks are standard, leaders must find the right tool for the right situation to get 'r' done.

Fortunately, the opportunities to fill that tool box abound. As members of the greatest Air Force in the world, we are given many opportunities to learn leadership. For instance our Professional Military Education is packed with leadership principles and historical examples.

There are also other leadership training opportunities like executive skills courses and civilian management courses. There is a recommended reading list and of course, the living breathing examples of leaders that fill our personal military history. Sometimes we learn how NOT to do something but it is nonetheless an important lesson.

From these resources we gain our tools, but the true art of leadership comes from knowing which tool to use in which situation--when to be directive, when to point the way and let them figure out how to get there, when to have hands on and when to watch and wait.

Correct application brings desired results, as demonstrated by the 45 MDG with the recent Health Services Inspection. It was brilliant leadership that enabled the MDG to capture the highest HSI rating in over four years.

Under Col. (Ret.) Florence Valley, the MDG has been in preparation for this evaluation for at least 18 months, scrutinizing our processes, looking for ways to improve, checking ourselves against the standards. During that time she demonstrated great skill in knowing when to be directive and when to watch and wait. During that time, I have been filling my tool box -learning to be a leader.