An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

NEWS | April 25, 2008

Leadership lessons ... Just look around

By Maj. Paul Filicek Presidential Logistics Squadron Operations Officer

I thought I would be awed and humbled by Air Force One and our mission, the prospect of airlifting the President of the United States on time, every time, without fail. Doing so in a 231-foot aircraft that is spotless to the last inch inside and out, with hundreds of complex systems all working to perfection - and being responsible for it - should awe and humble anyone. In a unit experiencing its largest influx of new personnel in its history combined with a slew of retirements that would alarm the calmest of leaders, the ping meter should be off the charts! 

But, I am not awed by Air Force One and our mission. Instead, I am awed by the leadership surrounding me that makes it all happen! Leadership seeps from the pores of everyone, humbles me to the very core, and starts at the top and continues to the bottom. My bosses are the best I've ever had, period. My Chief is twice as smart and twice as experienced as me, and taller too. Master Sgt. Mark Cantrell, our first sergeant, already ranks as the finest person I've known. But this article is not an "ode to the PAG." 

My point is this: the leadership in this unit is far more awe-inspiring and humbling than the jets or the mission could be. What truly inspires is not so much the list of people I just mentioned, it is more the list of people I did not - the NCOs, civilians, and contractors who comprise most of who we are. That list extends to the entire Team Andrews family.
I came to Andrews thinking I was already an accomplished leader. I was wrong. I learn new leadership lessons every day, and I learn many of them from NCOs and civilians. From Staff Sgt. Meyer in the 316th Comptroller Squadron, who stopped all other work to help someone in need on the spot, to Ms. McFadden in the 316th Mission Support Squadron, who worked extremely hard to process a civilian position hire action in near-record time ... without ever losing her smile. From Master Sgt. Mosley and Lt. Col. Forest who stepped forward to aid us in our darkest time, to the young Marines who catch Marine One on the ramp during every Presidential launch. Think about those Marines for a moment. On every launch, one of them comes to the ramp - alone - as a representative of their entire service to the President of the United States. Their youngest people, trusted completely. Leadership. 

Leadership is not rank dependent. We all know that. It is as much about actions, deeds, and examples as it is authority and management skills. Management skills are necessary when tasks are complex, but leadership is always necessary. We are too short of people with too great a mission to forget that everyone needs to be a leader. And in my short experience at Andrews, I see leadership everywhere. 

If you're a young Airman or NCO, seize your opportunities to lead. The example is often as important as the deed. If you're a supervisor, train and prepare your young professionals to lead, then trust them to do so. In almost every case, they will surprise you with their aptitude, skill, and dedication. Let them own their part, and you too will be awed and humbled!