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Lead & follow with compassion, concern and competence

Chief Master Sgt. Derek Crowder 60th Air Mobility Wing command chief

Chief Master Sgt. Derek Crowder 60th Air Mobility Wing command chief

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Actions speak louder than words, a statement many of us have heard throughout our lifetime.  Have you ever thought about what it means?  Your words as well as your actions as a leader and follower illustrate to others the type of person you are. 

As a leader and follower over the years I have learned to use three questions as my guiding principles.  They are:  Can I trust you? Are you committed?  And do you care about me?  I try to ensure not only my words but my actions answer one or more of these questions to those I lead and follow. 

Trust is an essential human attribute and virtue, being both trusting and trustworthy.  Building trust requires constant and authentic communication and every action communicates something to your subordinates about who you are.  There is the age old argument about trust, is it earned or given.  I offer, it must be given.  In order for others to trust you, you have to give them your trust from the beginning. 

There are three C’s you can focus on to help build a trusting relationship.  The first C is, compassion.  Simply showing concern for others by taking time to slow down and listen to not only their words but their emotions, fears and concerns.  The second C is, competence.  Always work to be a technical expert in both your primary duty as well as in leadership and followership.  The third and final C is, consistency.  Have a consistent reaction to situations, the same tomorrow as you did today and yesterday.    

Commitment means different things to people at different stages throughout their life.  As a child you are committed to doing what your parents tell you, they are your parents and you want to obey them.  As you get older, maybe a bit more rebellious, say as a teenager, you may not be as committed to listening to your parents as you once were.  As an adult, commitment takes on a new meaning for each of us. 

In the Profession of Arms commitment is not a phase, it is an obligation and responsibility and one that should not be taken lightly.   Are you committed to serving others, those both superior and subordinate to you?  Each and every one of us is a valued member of this team and we owe it to each other to provide a level of commitment which communicates that we want what is best for the organization and those who serve it.  We must display commitment by setting and maintaining standards, we must ensure the resources and training needed to accomplish the mission are provided  and we must be committed to their overall well-being.

There will be times when our subordinates fail, allow them to fail.  We must allow them to fail forward, learn from their mistake and remain committed to providing them with what they need to learn and move past it.  We shouldn’t allow a lack of commitment on our part to be the reason someone fails, when this happens, we all fail.

Everyone has a desire to be cared for.  Regardless of the position you hold within the organization you can care for others simply by being engaged.  Being engaged is an emotional commitment to the organization, the members within this organization and the goals of both—both personal and professional.  Do not underestimate the value of a personal connection with those you work with, whether superior or subordinate.  Caring for individuals shows them you are concerned with their welfare, you are invested in them and want to see them succeed.  Every individual within the unit has unique talents and interests and good leaders know how to uncover them with engagement.  Everyone has a story about who they are, where they come from, as well as who and what in their past helped shape them into the individual they are today. Take time to learn the stories of those around you, share your story as well, they need to know you as a person, not just a leader or follower, and strive to learn as much about someone you can.  Doing so helps foster a relationship built on trust. Each of us must work to create a culture within our organization built on trust, commitment, and care.  If each of us focus on answering these three questions with our words and our actions, there are no bounds to what we can achieve together.