Creating accountable Airmen through leadership

  • Published
  • By Michael W. Wynne
  • Secretary of the Air Force
An Airman from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., just exemplified how innovative and interactive leadership enables our Airmen with the knowledge required to help our Air Force achieve the goals I laid out previously. 

Tired of changing street lights in the middle of the night, a civil engineer Airman recently determined that replacing current high-pressure sodium arc lights with LED lights could achieve the same effect, but also save man hours and money. 

Not only was he enabled by his job knowledge that LED bulbs are more energy efficient and last 11 versus two years, he was also cognizant of the over-arching AFSO 21 goals to save energy and be more efficient. 

But what drove this Airman to re-assess how he did his job in accordance with the bigger picture, and introduce an idea that may possibly save millions of dollars Air Force-wide? The answer - Leadership. 

Whether deploying in combat or executing day-to-day missions, Airmen must understand how each decision they make or task they complete ties into our Air Force goals. To make that connection, leaders at every level must both understand the goals and communicate them to their people. 

Every day our Airmen hold themselves accountable to the highest standards of safety, quality, and procedures. But when leadership communicates the Air Force goals to their people, our Airmen are enabled with the knowledge to perform their tasks and better support the Air Force mission. 

These goals must flow down from the top to every Reserve, Guard and Regular Air Force Airman around the world. It is especially important for our NCOs and frontline supervisors, the backbone of our Air Force, who are leading every day. 

All leaders must set measurable objectives that focus efforts to achieve our goals. They must also cultivate supervisory relationships that encourage Airmen to exchange ideas and honest feedback up and down the chain of command. 

This mission-oriented open dialogue fosters increased satisfaction and meaning when Airmen understand the value and relation of their efforts towards the greater Air Force mission. 

As we defend our great Nation in the rapidly changing strategic environment, I need every Airman to learn, embrace, and practice the communication and objective-based leadership that delivers a spirit of innovation and an ethic of accountability-just like the command chain leading our civil engineer Airman at Vandenberg AFB.