Organizational success requires each of us to jump on board

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Resti Andin
  • 42nd Security Forces Squadron commander
When I think about leadership and organizational success, trains come to mind as a useful analogy. Just as all of a train's components are essential and must work in concert with one another for it to reach its final destination, all Airmen play an important and integral role in helping the Air Force reach its objectives.

Let me explain. In order to begin a journey, we must first have an understanding of where we came from and where we wish to go - just like a train. In the Air Force, we rely on commanders to help us build a vision for the future. But this is only the start of a long journey.

Achieving any goal begins with taking the first step. While this may seem obvious and rather simplistic, how many of us can truly dedicate our time to focus on only one objective. More often than not, there are 500 other competing interests for our time often making it difficult to focus on any one goal.

And yet, if you were to look around, you would find our Airmen doing the impossible everyday. Even in the midst of manpower cuts, longer deployments and asking our younger Airmen to take on greater leadership roles, our people continue to rise to the challenge and exceed our expectations daily. Then why do I speak of vision and goals in an environment where our Airmen achieve so much?

To help you understand the importance of establishing a vision, I must refer back to the train analogy. Each airmen, NCO, officer and civilian, represents a train engine of sorts. You could even take the comparison one step further and say each flight, squadron, wing and even headquarters can perform a similar role.

Regardless where you stand, each one of us can move the train down the track, albeit some individuals by virtue of their rank and/or position may have more pull, we all nevertheless contribute to our Air Force mission. The importance of a unifying goal allows us to focus our efforts and pull in the same direction in order to achieve a common shared goal. If we allow other competing interests to dictate our priorities, we might find we are slowing our progress, or worse, pulling our unit in different directions.

Take for example the upcoming Operational Readiness Inspection facing the 908th Airlift Wing. While it is still several months away, it's easy to set it aside and focus on the more immediate competing tasks. We may even find ourselves saying that's the responsibility of another person or another organization.

Have you ever heard anyone say, "The 908th, well that's not our wing;" or "The SNCO Academy, that's a Gunter issue."

The truth is an ORI is more than just an inspection. It is an assessment of the collective team's ability to deploy and go to war; supporting Air University is not someone else's responsibility. It's all of our duties to support the professional development of all Airmen, whether that's offering a warm welcome when our people come through the gate, providing first class instruction to our students or ensuring the health, safety and support for our Maxwell-Gunter team. You are an integral element to our success.

My challenge to you then is to understand where you sit on that train. Know where it is your unit is trying to go; help us move it forward; jump on board and enjoy the ride.