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NEWS | Jan. 26, 2010

Leaving a Legacy

By Senior Master Sgt. Andrea Falcher 89th Operations Support Squadron superintendent

To be effective leaders, we should set standards that will help us in making moral decisions and imparting the necessary tools for leaving a legacy to our future Airmen.

Inherent in our military culture are core values. Let's look at them as if looking at the structure of a house: When building a house, you must have a solid foundation. The first core value, "Integrity First," is our foundation.

According to the Air Force's enlisted force structure, integrity is a character trait, a "moral compass" and the basis for trust. This means that we must do what is right even when no one is watching. We must be able to say what we mean and mean what we say. We must have the courage to be honest, even during difficult situations. We must be willing to make unpopular decisions for the sake of the mission. Integrity also demands us to be responsible, accountable and fair.

All too often we expect our Airmen to act a certain way, but then we don't adhere to those same standards. Integrity must be the hallmark of our duty as enlisted leaders.

Our second core value is the framework of the house, which rests on the foundation.

"Service Before Self" tells us that our professional duties take precedence over personal desires. Airmen practice this every day. No other profession requires you to give your life for the benefit of others. Most Airmen who've joined the military after 9/11 truly understand this concept, but sometimes we must be reminded of it when we start to complain about work details or filling in when someone is deployed.

We must also have discipline and respect for each other. We must exercise control over our Airmen, but also over ourselves. We must correct bad behavior as soon as it occurs. We must show our folks that we value them and their contributions, and we put their needs before our own. By doing so, not only do we develop productive teams, but we teach them by the best way possible: leading by example.

Last, but not least, is the roof of the house. It finishes the structure and holds the building together - "Excellence In All We Do."

"Excellence In All We Do" directs us to develop a passion for continuous improvement. We must require excellence from our subordinates and ourselves. To do this, we must first ensure our folks have essential equipment and supplies. We must constantly be engaged in their lives and provide the necessary feedback for them to perform effectively.  We must work together by developing relationships of mutual respect. We must view everyone as equally important. This ensures we have a common goal and promotes an environment of trust and commitment. Next, we must be committed to personal excellence - seeking PME, education and professional development opportunities. We must stay in physical and mental shape. We must be committed to excellence both internally and externally. We must prepare our self physically and mentally.

Now, why is this important to us as leaders? We must lead and manage teams to accomplish the mission. To do this, we must be active, visible leaders and promote a culture of flexible Airmen that adapt to our ever-changing missions.

We must be honest and have courage to make the hard decisions. We must exceed the standards and expectations charged upon us and serve as role models. We must treat each other fairly and with respect. As leaders we must live and breathe the core values as well as instill them in our subordinates. By doing so, we build the foundation of our future leaders and leave a continued legacy of integrity, service and excellence.