Commentary: The ABCDs of leadership open path to success

Col. Sirena Morris
Commander
88th Mission Support Group
Caption
Col. Sirena Morris Commander 88th Mission Support Group

I recently joined Team Wright-Patt when I took command of the 88th Mission Support Group. It’s my fourth time taking the command flag and fifth in a command position.

I believe command is an absolute privilege — it’s not a right; it’s not promised, and every day is a test to continue to earn that privilege.

The rank on one’s shoulders alone does not qualify them to command. It is character, commitment to our core values and service to others that truly qualifies one for leadership opportunities.

As I prepared for group command, I reflected on what I believe, value and executed in my previous commands. I always try to establish what I call my A’s, B’s, C’s and D’s of leadership:

Accountability

Accountability is integral to good order and discipline. In addition, one should be accountable to self, ensuring they take care of themselves (physically, mentally and spiritually). Accountability is commitment.

Accessibility

A leader needs to be accessible, at all levels. You can’t effectively lead if you don’t know and understand the challenges of those you serve. You can’t effectively serve if those in your command do not have access to you or there are disruptions to your ability to engage.

Authenticity

People will know when you are being fake or not genuine (your true self). As we ascend in leadership positions (and rank), there is inclination to change or become what we feel is “expected.”

I am personally reminded that who I am got me to where I am. People will appreciate that you are genuine and understand you better when you are yourself, which further enhances confidence to lead others.

Brilliance in the Basics

Being brilliant in the basics is understanding and mastering the basics of a job or task and doing it with proficiency before trying to do it better, improving it or moving onto something more desirable. It is adherence to your basic fundamentals that win wars.

I appreciate innovation and believe it is important for change and growth, but over the years, I have witnessed that too much focus has been placed on innovation at the cost of mastering the basics.

Back in the Box

Often, we spread ourselves and units thin by committing to or doing too much. It is important to focus on what is required to execute our mission effectively and then start putting “things” back in the box.

I’ve observed units that spend more time executing actions that were not their primary mission at the expense of their primary mission, which often resulted in negative impacts on morale, manpower and mission accomplishment — this is not always a popular course of action.

Compassion

Leading with compassion is truly caring about people and considering it when making leadership decisions.

Being compassionate includes, but is not limited to: consideration, understanding, kindness, caring and concern. It’s never to be confused with enabling bad behavior or excusing breaks from our core values.

Common sense

I have witnessed success in certain environments by simply exercising common sense and reasoning.

There have been incidents where I would know little about a subject or problem but could get to a proper solution — through common-sense reasoning.

It was through these incidents that common sense became fundamental to my leadership and decision-making. Most of the time when I make any decision, I ask myself, “Does this make sense?”

Communication

Simply, communicating with the team, both up and down, enables buy-in, understanding and success — and hopefully, if done effectively, eliminates waste of effort and misunderstandings. In particular, it’s communicating and sharing information.

They say “information is power.” However, I believe information hoarded is weakness — information shared is power.

Diversity and inclusion

Inclusion is fundamental in ensuring we benefit from all our differences. Being inclusive drives diversity, diversity not just in race, gender and ethnicity, but also in thought, experiences and communication. I truly believe everyone has something to offer.

Development

Lastly, we seek development, which includes training, encouraging, mentoring and inspiring. It is a leader’s responsibility to ensure proper training is provided.

We are responsible for developing those leaders who will lead the next generation, at all levels. Not every leader will be a commander, but every leader will have influence.

It has been and will continue being an honor to serve, and the opportunity to command is a privilege — one that cannot be taken lightly. Through the tenets laid out above, I pray my efforts will continue to bear fruit and encourage a generation before and after me.

Lead and serve well.