Friday, February 6, 2009

View From The Top>>Servant leadership

By Col. Gregory S. Otey
19th Airlift Wing commander

January was a time of change for Team Little Rock. On Jan. 20th our nation's military welcomed a new Commander in Chief in President Barack Obama. Eight days later, I took command of the 19th Airlift Wing and Little Rock Air Force Base.

I haven't always been a commander and not that long ago, I stood where you are today. Anytime there is a change in leadership, it's common for every echelon of command to place a temporary hold on making certain changes or decisions.

This is many times justified by saying "Let's wait to see what the new guy wants." A change of command often times brings about a change in direction, but no one should be left wondering what "the new guy" wants.

What I want from you is simple. I want each of you to place the mission first; take care of people always; and demand 19th Airlift Wing excellence always! It's just that simple. I believe strongly in servant leadership. This approach emphasizes each leader's role as a steward of the resources -- human, financial, and otherwise -- provided to them by their organization. Servant leadership allows each of us to serve others while we stay focused on achieving great results based on the Air Force's Core Values.

Being a servant leader calls for selflessness. Selflessness may mean that a leader must make an unpopular decision because the leader feels it's in the best interests of those they serve. An example that comes to mind is that of a politician who champions an unpopular policy when they believe it's in the best interests of the country.

Servant leaders are devoted to serving the needs of the organization's members. This means they focus on meeting the needs of those they lead; developing employees to bring out the best in them; coaching others to encourage self-expression; facilitating personal growth in everyone who works for them; and listening and helping build a sense of community.

To be an effective servant leader you must apply all of these facets, but the one I'm most honed in on now is maintaining and expanding a sense of community and teamwork. This sense of community extends beyond the base gates. It's vital that we continue to strengthen the great ties with our central Arkansas neighbors.

I have been careful not to set any goals for the wing yet because I believe it is important to take time to observe how the mission is accomplished, see what is working and why, and then see what can be improved upon. Then I will work with the great team of leaders here to create goals based on what is necessary to take us to that next level.

We have a great history of providing unrivaled Combat Airlift for America always. If each of us acts as a responsible steward for our resources, remains loyal to those we serve and continues to place the mission first, there will be no need to wait for a new set of goals. The 19th Airlift Wing Black Knights and Team Little Rock have worked hard to earn their distinction as the home of C-130 Combat Airlift. That shouldn't - and I believe won't - change based on whose name is at the top of our organizational chart. Combat Airlift!


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