A command philosophy

  • Published
  • By Anthony O. Dillard
  • 42nd Communications Flight director
Command, in its simplest form, is the successful management of people, resources, equipment and processes. The commander's job is to ensure the mission is accomplished but at the same time, ensure his greatest asset, the people, are taken care of.

The commander must articulate his vision for the squadron and communicate with subordinates in such a way that the message isn't lost during transmission. It is crucial from the first day for the commander to set the tone of the organization which subsequently leads to the genesis of the unit's culture that it will eventually be known for.

The organization reflects its leadership. Additionally, where applicable, the commander must create the organizational structure wherein the team can be the most productive and operate without fear or constraint. Although it's a good management practice for a commander to remain humble, there should never be a point of ambiguity with respect to who's in charge and performance expectations.

Policies, standards, and parameters are introduced at the beginning without deviation. Set the standard and expect nothing less! Commanders' priorities must include the Mission, Accountability and Personnel (MAP).

Effective communication must take place at all levels in the organization. Everything is handled through the appropriate chain of command and coordination process. However, the commander should promote an open door policy where employees feel comfortable to discuss professional business and personal matters.

Commanders must create a safe and healthy environment that promotes excellence according to published standards whereas mediocrity is totally unacceptable. Employees are encouraged to think, plan and execute where mistakes are identified and corrected but tolerated. Employees must be empowered to take the initiative and make decisions that fall within their area of expertise without being micromanaged.

Successful commanders must fully grasp the concept of delegation as this leads to the opportunity for the team to learn and lead. Mentoring and feedback sessions must occur on a regular basis such that goals and objectives are clear between commander and subordinates.

Employees should be praised in public and reprimanded in private. Although a cumbersome task at hand, commanders must discipline when needed but each moment should be used as a teaching and learning experience.

The team approach is the proven road to victory where success is shared by all and not just by one or a select few. Command is never about the commander but about the team. The commander must lead from the front and not the rear. In order to build respect, loyalty, and trust, employees must see the commander operating in the leadership capacity.

There must be constant and meaningful interaction between the commander and the team. The commander must be accessible, available, and adapt a management style of walking around and not management via email.

The team spirit leads to the feeling of family where nurturing and growth take place. The team should get to know each other, treat each other in a respectful way, and embrace diversity. Commanders must promote the concept of a balanced life. There must be time for career or professional growth, physical activity, spiritual growth, family, and time for self. Commanders must be compassionate, caring, competent, and courageous.

It is the commander's responsibility to ensure that the team is adequately trained to perform the current mission and deliberately developed to accept additional challenges and leadership responsibilities. Commanders should be growing leaders to do their jobs and in their absence, the squadron should be able to execute.

Making decisions and conflict resolution are pertinent for the commander's toolbox and must be exercised in a way that is advantageous for the whole. Since the commander is held accountable for the squadron, setting priorities and time management must be on-going activities that lead to results.

Leadership is about character and such character exudes itself during mission execution as the commander builds his legacy daily through interactions at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels of management. Leaders must create an environment that breeds excellence at all levels and provide the tools necessary for success.