Be a smart agent of change

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Stephen Steiner
  • 5th Space Launch Squadron commander
During a recent Air Staff Call, former Secretary of the Air Force Michael Wynne urged the crowd to be "agents of change." Specifically he challenged action officers, senior NCOs and mid-grade civilians to pass on their strategic perspective when they leave Headquarters for new bases and wings. He noted those of us at wing level often don't fully understand the rationale behind the tough calls our Air Force leaders have made. Getting that slant from Airmen who have been in the thick of these decisions will make us more open to the changes being asked of us.

The message is a timely one - appreciating strategic vision is critical. But knowing where you want to go and why you need to get there is ultimately meaningless if you can't translate that into action. This is the "how to get there" piece where we in the 45th Space Wing need to assume roles as change agents.

To take up this mantle, we need to be smart - we need to be experts in our fields. Whether you work in the medical, personnel, civil engineering or launch mission assurance arenas you need to be expert at your job. Gen. Stephen Lorenz, commander, Air Education and Training Command, calls this "Those Who Do Their Homework Win," and it is the third of his thirteen points of leadership.

Why is this so important? It seems self evident - we all need to accomplish our jobs day in day out. But in the context of making changes to how we accomplish the mission it has added emphasis because it provides confidence and creativity. For instance, if you understand your job inside and out, you will have the confidence to firmly push back on suggested changes you know don't make sense. The flip side is you will be able to offer creative alternatives that do.

Like it or not change is part of our Air Force landscape. Every time the price of a barrel of oil increases by $10, the budget rises by $610 million per year. That effect ripples down the line. In the end, we can let change happen to us or we can shape it - the smarter we are in our jobs, the better our chances of shaping it the best possible way.

We belong to the best equipped, trained and manned Air Force in the world. Ensuring that remains constant requires us all to be smart agents of change.