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NEWS | Dec. 6, 2017

Compliance vs. Commitment

By Master Sgt. David C. Drennon 11th Aerospace Medicine Squadron

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- In an environment that is saturated with crisis management situations, our actions and/or behaviors are driven not only by personal experience but are guided by clearly established institutional standards. In addition to these standards that vector our behavior, we are each shaped by our own personal values; principles that often times carry an immense price tag. These inferences are often times the attributing factor when it comes to our performance and whether we meet, exceed or fail to achieve the desired expectations. 

Webster defines compliance as the action or fact of complying with a wish or command. In contrast, commitment is characterized as a state or quality of being dedicated to a cause and/or activity. In continuing to peel back the layers, being dedicated is a state of devotion to a task or purpose; having single-minded loyalty or integrity.  

Although these definitions are relatively easy to understand, they can often times be quite difficult to fully learn and/or execute in our behavior. In regards to compliance verses commitment from subordinates and/or peers, one must be willing to project the desired behaviors and expectations in reference to their own performance.

First; lead by example. Verbally expressing and/or projecting standards can be quite easy, but it’s often times the things we do and don’t do that set the example for others to follow. Complying with a set of objective rules and/or instructions can prove to be quite elementary, and the difference in simply meeting standards and exceeding them comes down to one’s degree of commitment.

A common challenge many units face every day is the “care factor” or in this case, the degree of commitment from personnel. Not every job is necessarily glamorous, but each and every job serves to support a much bigger picture. 

Developing a strategic mindset is crucial in the development of one’s overall level of commitment. This requires a healthy level of engagement from both formal and informal leaders within the unit. Working diligently to develop genuine understanding from all personnel, and their specific role within the unit.  

According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, we all have a natural desire to belong. In fact, many of us joined the military to join something much larger than ourselves. Considering this, why do certain members of our family stop caring, or have their level of commitment questioned? 

There are obviously several factors that can directly affect this attribute. Leveraging the term “shareholder” suggests that each and every member of your team must own a figurative percentage of the organization. Our country and its values are under constant threat. It’s imperative that our Airmen fully understand compliance, but possess a healthy level of commitment, as it’s through this commitment that we spark innovation and creativity—generating sustainable solutions that traditionally may have been overlooked because of someone’s rank or position.  

Every moment of every day has to be that of opportunity; challenge your Airmen and value their opinions.  Crafting solutions as a team, and soliciting inputs from all ranks within the unit can and will foster the shareholder mentality. 

Every unit across our amazing organization is saturated with immense talent. We all have a personal obligation to develop healthy relationships with our fellow Airman. Compliance is relatively easy, but I challenge every Airman to explore the untapped potential in our brothers and sisters. As a mentor once told me, “Don’t be afraid of falling on your face…you may fail, but you fail falling forward.” 

In the hustle and bustle of our lives, we often times forget this instrumental fact; every Airman volunteered to join, to defend this county against all enemies, foreign and domestic…they want to be here. Get to know your fellow Airmen, and actively listen to them. You may not only discover the key to optimum performance, but project a caring attitude.