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  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Patrick Smith
  • 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Anti-Terrorism
Webster's dictionary defines Leadership as the quality of character and personality giving a person the ability to gain the confidence of and lead others. On any given day you can Google "leadership" and find hundreds to millions of results that define the term leadership. But what does leadership mean to you?

Each of us has different perspectives on what leadership is and what it means to be a leader. Figures like Patton, Churchill, Thatcher, King, and Powell are all powerful people that come to mind, but what makes them leaders? We all were raised with a different set of values and ideals that ultimately define what we as individuals view as leadership.

"The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born-that there is a genetic factor to leadership. That's nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born," said Warren Bennis, author and American scholar on the subject of leadership.

We are bombarded with ideals of leadership throughout our Air Force lives - from daily duties to supervisor's feedback and EPR/OPR's. The Air Force core values are supposed to be a foundation of leadership however; natural talent and charisma play a large factor in how a person is perceived by those who would follow. Having the ability to make the difficult decision and stand by it is a staple of being a leader. Many times as a leader you will be called upon to make the tough decision and convince those under you it is the correct one. Being popular for giving people what they want rather than what the mission needs is not being a leader. Having the fortitude to make the tough decision, stand by it, defend it and convince others to follow in suite takes a true leader.

It is the responsibility of every Air Force member to evaluate the decisions they make to ensure they are the correct ones. This alludes to the correct use of available resources, manpower, money, professional treatment and development of our fellow Airmen. Setting the example by exceeding standards also sets leaders apart from those who "just get by." It takes dedication and the willingness to sacrifice to be a person that others want to emulate. The decisions we make impact not only ourselves, but the greatest military this world has ever known. It is our professional duty to strive to be the individual example that others want to be like. When we choose to follow someone it is because we believe in them, the decisions they make, the example they set. Have you ever had a supervisor or a mentor that you remember saying, I want to be like that? So my question now becomes- what is stopping you from being the leader you want to be?

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."--John Quincy Adams