Respect, loyalty key leader ingredients

  • Published
  • By Maj. Nathan E. Myers
  • 55th Maintenance Operations Squadron commander
Respect and loyalty - most pursue them, some earn and gain them by chance, while successful leaders give and receive them one person and one issue at a time.

These two traits are fundamental concepts of leadership that often occur without a lot of deliberate action. These two concepts, however, can have significant impact on both mission success and leadership style.

I've spent most of my 13 years in aircraft maintenance on the flight line working with incredible senior noncommissioned officers, driven Airmen and top-notch operators who put their lives on the line daily. I have yet to meet a successful person who has not employed respect and loyalty to get the mission done.

In its most simple form, respect is the willingness to show appreciation, admiration or consideration. Respect can be shown in many forms and at different levels. For example, gaining a clear understanding of Air Force heritage and traditions represents one level of respect, while dedication to your unit's mission, your specific job and finally respect for yourself are other levels of respect.

A successful application of respect may involve simply honoring the military tradition of saluting or wearing your uniform properly. Respect may also be seen in performing a task on time, in a supervisor honoring his subordinate by submitting them for a quarterly or annual award, or in having a conversation with the bagger at the commissary.

In each case, it took a person who appreciated another person for their efforts and responsibilities. The point is, it's important to appreciate the unique experiences each of us brings to a task and how simple respect and a little interest can bring out the best in a person. Author Mark A. Clement captured this point when writing, "Leaders who win the respect of others are the ones who deliver more than they promise, not the ones who promise more than they can deliver."

Of equal importance in leadership is employing the concept of loyalty. Loyalty is being steadfast in allegiance - faithful to a person, ideal or custom. To be clear, loyalty does not mean blind obedience, but rather an honest, sincere dedication to a person, organization and/or task. Refraining from talking behind your boss' back, despite a poor decision, is an example of loyalty.

Charles T. Jones, an American motivational author, put it best when he wrote, "Loyalty is something you give regardless of what you get back and in giving loyalty, you're getting more loyalty; and out of loyalty flow other great qualities."

I urge you to take a moment and think about your current relationships and interactions with people in your life and ask a couple of questions: Do I treat others as I want to be treated? Do I listen to what a person is saying or only to what I want to hear? How strong is my loyalty to the most important people in my life - family, friends and co-workers? How do I demonstrate this loyalty (talk is cheap)? Continually ask and answer these basic questions and before you realize it, your co-workers, supervisors and subordinates will respond and appreciate your genuine thoughtfulness and dedication. Use these tools of respect and loyalty in your leadership approach and you will not only successfully motivate people to accomplish the mission but you will distinguish yourself as a person with greater maturity and a true leader in the world's most powerful Air Force.