An IG view on leadership

  • Published
  • By Col. Bradley S. Denison
  • Eglin Inspector General
Throughout my 28 years of active duty service, I have had all types of assignments with varying degrees of responsibility.

Of these jobs, the most exciting and most rewarding job was definitely being a squadron commander, leading some of the finest men and women in the entire Air Force. Learning how to lead and take care of people and learning to work as part of a team are fundamental tenets of success. I attribute much of my success to following the "4Cs": commitment, competence, candor and courage.

As a new major, I had the honor to work for Lt. Gen. Kenneth Wykle (USA). At the time he was the Deputy Commander for U.S. Transportation Command and the senior Army Transportation Corps Officer. He was an inspiring leader and it was he who first taught me the 4Cs. Together these four words are synergistic, force multipliers ... of great significance.

If you remember nothing else from this article remember those four words! The acceptance and adherence to these fundamental values will lead to a rewarding and successful job as a commander, director, first sergeant, superintendent, or for that matter, to a successful life and career.

Commitment ... is dedication to your profession and to proudly serve this great nation of ours. Loyalty, believing in what you are doing and supporting your Air Force mission to the maximum extent. Patriotism and esprit-de-corps are elements of commitment; so, too, is persistence in solving problems and resolving issues or misunderstandings. Do you have the commitment to ensure your immunizations are up to date; your will is in order; and your emergency data card contains correct information? If you do, then you can walk tall and be proud of your commitment.

Competence is striving to be technically and tactically competent in all that you do. Know your job; be the best and never accept mediocrity. Competent leaders are confident leaders. Competence requires/demands discipline. Set and enforce tough standards, realistic standards for yourself ... but standards that cause you to stretch. You must know and adhere to current Operating Instructions to be successful. Discipline means proper customs, courtesy and appearance. You must always serve as competent role models and promote the development of others.

Candor is is being honest, truthful and forthright in what you say; and do. You have an ethical responsibility to demonstrate integrity to your organization and people. Do not compromise your integrity for anything or anyone. Once compromised you can never get your integrity back. By teaching and mentoring, you must help others who rely on and look up to you to understand the nature of ethical considerations in their work and social activities. If you think you have a better and smarter way of doing something, bring it to the attention of your boss. AFSO21 is key to the future of our Air Force -- so accept it and understand how to utilize its power.

Courage is going beyond physical courage in the face of danger. You must develop the moral courage to state your convictions and to do what is right. When you are in charge, there is no one to lean on ... you must decide. As a leader, you must accept responsibility for your actions. Have the courage to admit mistakes, learn and move on. Make tough decisions, but ensure you have all the facts and weighed both sides of the issue when making your final decision.

Values make us what we are ... as Airmen, civilians, leaders, as an institution and as a nation. Our actions are inseparable from these four fundamental values.

Now some of you may have been asking yourselves...what does leadership have to do with the IG? Well, my belief is leadership within a particular unit is at the center of almost everything that comes our way. So the challenge is for each of you to incorporate these 4Cs and use them in your daily activities. By becoming a better leader, you improve the sum total of the entire unit and make a positive impact for others to witness.