To be a good leader, be a good servant

  • Published
  • By Col. Prince Gilliard
  • 81st Training Group commander
Lead by example. Trench leadership. Servant leadership. I am sure everyone has heard at least one of these leadership descriptions, but what do they mean and more importantly, how do you put them in place? Everyone wants to be the quarterback running the show, but sometimes that is not what is required. Knowing our role and playing the correct role is even more important to ensure that we don't lose sight of what makes us effective. 

Robert Greenleaf said, "Good leaders must first become good servants." A servant is defined as someone who serves another, providing help in some manner. This ties in very closely to our core value of "Service Before Self" and with one of the tenants of our 81st Training Wing's vision of "Renew the Community." 

Gen. Colin Powell, a respected leader, said, "Every person who has been successful has got to turn around, and through the allocation of their time, their treasure, their training, their wisdom or their wealth, give something back to somebody who is in need." 

Volunteering and being a servant to the community are fertile soil for leadership to grow. Airmen should set expectations to not only to fulfill their duty, but to become active participants in their community and serve as ambassadors for the Air Force. 

Military servant leadership is summed up concisely by one of Gen. George Patton's standing orders while commanding the Third Army during World War II: "Officers are responsible not only for the conduct of their men in battle, but also for their health and contentment when not fighting. An officer must be the last man to take shelter from fire, and the first to move forward." 

General Patton makes it clear that effective leaders must be willing to endure what they ask of their subordinates. Strapping on the mantle of service is a key requirement of leading Airmen. When your Airmen are properly cared for, their morale grows not because of your inspiring words, but from your inspiring actions. 

Leadership is centered beyond our day job. You can be involved in booster clubs, Top III, Rising VI, or the company grade officers council. Your church can also provide many opportunities to serve. Sunday school, youth and outreach programs are constantly in need of those willing to serve and eventually lead. 

On the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina has opened a multitude of opportunities to serve including Habitat for Humanity, the Red Cross, or just helping your neighbor clean up. 

Be a good leader by being a good servant; we are seen as such by the community we serve. This is our duty.