Passion and professionalism define great leaders

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Mike Garrou
  • 4th Civil Engineer Squadron
Like many of you, I attended last months's promotion ceremony to support the wing's newest promotees. We watched as the youngest Airmen to the oldest NCO's were promoted to the next grade. We saw the newest NCO's embrace the American flag symbolizing their commitment to the cause. We heard the NCO Charge, Sr. NCO Charge and Chief Clark's charge to the two newest chiefs. These charges set the roadmap for NCO's to be effective supervisors and leaders.

After listening to the charges and the script, I thought about what would make a great leader, what would I tell someone if asked to name two attributes a leader possesses.
The two I think about when I think of great leaders are passion and professionalism.

Great leaders are great professionals; they understand how important it is to be a cut above the rest. They educate themselves to be the best, most knowledgeable leader; they train and practice so they can be the best in their profession.

There is a TV commercial describing the difference between amateurs and professionals. Amateurs practice to get it right, professionals practice so they don't get it wrong. In our profession, the profession of arms, we can't afford to get it wrong; the American people depend on us to get it right.

Like good leaders, a professional's actions never bring discredit upon themselves, their organization or the profession they serve. Their behavior is always above reproach.

On or off duty, our actions must also be above reproach. We've all seen examples in our wing when a breakdown of professional behavior resulted in drunk driving, assault or drug use. These actions bring discredit on the Air Force, the 4th Fighter Wing and every Airman who serves honorably.

Our behavior is a reflection of what you stand for, as professionals. Never bring discredit on yourself, on your unit, and your service.

The second attribute good leaders possess is passion. Call it desire, drive, motivation or as the wing commander says "that fire in your belly"; passion makes us alive. We are the most technically advanced Air Force in the world, but without passion we are dead from the neck down.

What keeps you going when the going is tough, when you're separated from family and friends? It has to be more than a paycheck or benefits. Your passion to serve our great nation, your love of country or desire to protect your family and the men and women next to you will keep you going when it gets hard. There are times when you will dislike your job but remember to be more than your vocation.

I challenge leaders at all levels to keep that passion burning and let your professional light shine where ever you go and in everything you do.