Inspiring is leading
By Master Sgt. Chad Fry, 23d Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
/ Published October 21, 2015
MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
Through every speech and in every article written on leadership most likely somewhere you will see or hear that to lead people you have to inspire them. There are many ways to inspire people, just like everyone's take on leadership provides a different perspective. Airmen have a natural desire to perform the duties charged upon them to the best of their ability, all while ensuring the Air Force does not fail at the mission.
However to accomplish this, Airmen need to be inspired, and this takes an inspirational leader. Getting Airmen to do something because they want to do it versus because they were told to do it might be the greatest feat a leader will ever accomplish.
Inspiring those you lead requires three things. Firstly, leaders must figure out why Airmen are inspired to perform and lead in the environment. Secondly, leaders must figure out what drives those they lead to desire the outcomes they produce. Lastly, leaders must overcome any obstacles in the way.
So why are you inspired? This is a deep self-reflection moment in which you figure out what makes you wake up every day to perform the high-level of operation that the Air Force asks of you. Some of these reasons might be a family history of military service, your own family, service to your nation, or simply learning and honing a set of skills to become an outstanding American citizen in a different career one day. When you understand why you serve, understanding your Airmen will come much easier and you can then lead in a manner in which your drive is the foundation of your actions.
Next, you have to figure out why your Airmen do the same. Their reasons aren't so different than yours, but you have to figure that out. Get intrusive into their lives; know their hobbies, family, likes and dislikes, background and absolutely anything they want to share with you. From there you know exactly why they are here and it becomes easier to direct their focus on the mission.
A leader will clearly see that when they lead with "people first" that the mission will complete itself and you will never go wrong. Struggles will arise and they must be faced head on or will breed a work place culture that is undesirable. Know there will be some that will be very difficult to inspire, however never give up on them because all others are watching. Furthermore, never sacrifice discipline of those you lead because you believe it puts in question your character. Airmen will appreciate you holding them to a standard and if not, all the others you lead will be further inspired. Finally, the quickest way to fail is not being able to reserve your personal opinion with respect to your Airmen and their issues.
The diversity our Airmen possess makes our Air Force an exciting place to lead and subsequently produces our great successes. Inspiring leadership is a tough task of self-sacrifice without reward, being with Airmen at their worst hour and supporting them at their best and never overlooking the smallest of issues. If you know why you serve, that makes it easier to understand your Airmen and then being able to inspire them is a second-nature task.
Relentlessly, inspire those you lead in a deliberate effort to develop them as the next generation of leaders. Our Air Force must be successful now and into the future as we maintain high states of readiness and deploy more and more with less resources. The answer to all of this is Airmen, and they need inspiring leaders.