Character: one’s moral compass

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Blake Brewer
  • 45th Medical Support Squadron commander
Character is the foundation of successful leadership. The Air Force Academy defines character as one's moral compass, and the sum of those qualities of moral excellence, which compel a person to do the right thing despite pressure or temptations to the contrary. If you allow your character to be compromised, you will never be able to stand strong in your future. The flaws in your character now will only be amplified under the great pressure of supervision, command, and combat.

So it is important to build and keep your character. There are some basic fundamentals to help develop your character: trustworthiness, responsibility, respect, and fair-mindedness. Trustworthiness is one of the major foundations of a person's character. A person must be honest; don't deceive, cheat or steal. Reliability and loyalty also help assemble trustworthiness. A person needs to be reliable and dependable to those above and below him or her on the chain of command. Simply stated, do what you are expected to do.

Responsibility and respect are two other fundamentals to help form your character. As mentioned earlier, reliability means you must do everything you are expected to do. Responsibility builds onto reliability in the fact that you need to consider the consequences and be accountable for your choices in action. A leader must take responsibility for their subordinate's decisions. In simple words, give the praise but take the blame. This basically comes down to respect. Treat others with respect and follow the golden rule, treat others as you would want to be treated. While working with people, ensure you are peaceful when dealing with anger, disagreements and insults. This will show and gain much respect.

It is imperative to show fair treatment to all people. Display empathy by being sensitive to the feelings, values, interests, and wellbeing of others. Fairness also means playing by the rules and not taking advantage of others. Your character in the Air Force will follow you after you PCS, retire or separate. To reach excellence you must first be a leader of good character. These four foundations will help build your character but simply, if one lives by the Air Force Core Values, Integrity First, Service Before Self and Excellence in All We Do, your character will be built and maintained for a lifetime.