Individual and TEAM Leadership Principles

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Kevin Williams
  • 55th Operations Support Squadron commander
Former U.S. President and Army Chief of Staff, General Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, "You do not lead by hitting people over the head - that's assault, not leadership." While specific leadership techniques are situationally dependent, personnel respond much better if they are empowered and do not feel threatened.

My basic leadership philosophy was molded during early childhood, that being the Golden Rule - treat others as you would like to be treated. I truly believe if you treat all subordinates with respect, they will respond in kind. There will be trying times, but nothing that justifies disrespect in any situation. Discipline may be required, but ideally as the last resort.

Leadership starts at the top; Set the example! Whether it is mission performance, work ethic, physical fitness or personal conduct, all leaders must strive to achieve excellence in every element of their personal and professional lives. Nobody is perfect, we all make mistakes, but one must make every effort to do the right thing at all times. Superiors, subordinates and peers can see through fake attempts. Some people are good at covering up messes, but sooner or later, the smell becomes overpowering.

There have been a number of different buzzwords used recently that equate to overall balance in our lives. Whether the specific strategies discussed during the latest Resiliency Stand Down and Wingman Days or the Comprehensive Airman's Fitness program, we all need to define our own framework for balance. Personally, I have utilized the following three pillars of individual leadership - Personal, Professional, and Physical - as my framework:
  • Personal - involves mental well-being, including spiritual health and quality of family life

  • Professional - the commitment to the mission; Determination and diligence are key traits

  • Physical - health, stamina and outward appearance

Successful organizational leadership is based on teamwork, not one-way leadership. We've all heard the acronym TEAM - Together Everyone Achieves More. Instead, here's a twist - TEAM concept for leadership:
  • Target Set: first, identify your priorities. Your foundation must be the true warfighting mission, then adjust focus accordingly. Communicate this to all levels, making sure it gets there. 

  • Everyone is Important: all members are essential to mission success; try to find what motivates each individual at all levels of your organization. Evaluate talents, and match to tasks or conduct further training. Take the time to get around to respective work areas and learn specifics on personal lives and interests.

  • Accountability: integrity in all situations, ensure leadership at all levels follow. Ensure leaders set the tone and walk in step; respect opinions and experience.

  • Motivation: rally unit support to work as a team to conduct the warfighting mission. Ensure everyone understands your unit is a family, and engage in morale-building activities outside of the workplace. Earn respect through cohesiveness and success, not blind authority. Positive attitudes are contagious!

These are just a couple leadership tools that have assisted me in my constant quest for improvement and success. Individually or organizationally, we all need to constantly look for ways to achieve leadership excellence while striving for balance in all aspects of our lives.