Who is on your team?

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Ched Beam
  • 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Safety Office
"Individual commitment to a group effort -- that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work," said Vince Lombardi, the National Football League Hall of Fame coach for the Green Bay Packers and Washington Redskins.

Today, Airmen are deployed worldwide and many units are stretched thin, We have more on our "to do" list than we seemingly have people to accomplish them. We're all impacted by the high operations tempo. Teamwork not only enables commanders, supervisors and wingmen alike to accomplish the mission, but also it is a necessity.

You may have heard the expression, "A chain is only as strong as its weakest link," but have you truly pondered what the word team means to you and how it impacts you?

A successful team depends on everyone -- you, your peers, sound leadership and your family.

A team begins with solid teammates -- your peers and co-workers.

"No kidding," you may reply. One of my first lasting lessons in teamwork came as a high school sophomore. Our freshman football team had completed the previous season with a dismal 0-6 record. We had only scored one touchdown all year. We were plagued by injuries, players quitting the team and just plain lack of teamwork. I still remember the words our high school coach told us on day No. 1 the next year.

"You will give 100 percent in practice and on each and every down in games," he said. "And we will win one game this year!"

That year, there were no superstars, just teamwork. With nearly the same players from the previous year, our sophomore team finished with a conference championship and a 9-1 record. Our only loss was by less than a touchdown to a team with much more raw talent and size than us.

Teamwork -- every player counts and everyone is needed to make a difference.

Another factor of a great team is visible and inspiring leadership that molds the team. How do you ensure that everyone "plays" and works as a team when you have a group of superstars and outstanding performers?

From 1997 to 1999, I was a mid-level captain in a very talent-rich squadron. No less than 13 individuals from that squadron became a squadron commander to date and still counting. Many of those young Airmen are now master sergeants and above. A true Air Force leader and C-130 Hercules warrior, the squadron commander found a place for everyone. He motivated, inspired and ensured all were working toward the same goal.

Most Airmen think about their loved ones each time an anniversary, birthday or holiday approaches, which brings me to my third and final point of what makes a good team.

Last fall, my wife departed for a trip to France. I stayed home to play "Mr. Mom" for 11 days and attempted to work normal hours and juggle the children's school, soccer, gymnastics, scouting and everything else. I quickly realized that without my best teammate, just staying afloat with the daily routine was difficult. Your family team is not only your spouse and children, but also extends to mom, dad, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins and the list goes on.

As more and more Airmen throughout the Air Force transition from the typical four-month deployment cycle to a six- to 12-month rotation or longer, everyone should allot themselves time to support one another and keep in touch with their family and friends, even if it is only a phone call every now and then. Make sure you take the time during this deployment to stay in contact with loved ones through letters, phone calls and e-mail.

Time is short and it's crucial that teams develop and bond quickly. You don't want to look back 20 years from now, after your Air Force career is finished, and say to yourself, "I wish I would have done things differently as a leader or supervisor, or I wish I would have spent more time with my family."

Who is on your team?