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From the Chief: Characteristics serve as indicators of success or failure of unit leadership

Chief Master Sgt. Jackson A. Winsett

Chief Master Sgt. Jackson A. Winsett

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Have you ever thought about how we could measure the effectiveness of our leadership or whether our approaches to leadership produce the desired results? I believe there are four characteristics of a unit that are accurate indicators of the success or failure of leadership. They are discipline, morale, esprit de corps and efficiency.

DISCIPLINE: This is the greatest single factor in military action. Discipline distinguishes a military force from a mob. It may be defined as the use of authority and obedience to gain order in united action. This kind of discipline is not the same kind used to describe corrective training and punishment. This discipline implies full and voluntary acceptance. It applies equally to the commander as well as the basic airman.

Discipline not only compels you to obey, it also compels you to direct or lead your people. To you, discipline should mean the assumption of responsibility, the exercise of initiative and the issuance of instructions — directing and leading.

More than anything else, this discipline consists of those invisible bonds formed by faith in the cause, trust in our leaders, confidence in our own ability and that of our comrades, and knowledge that our individual effort is working with the efforts of many others toward victory.

MORALE: This characteristic is often confused with esprit de corps. In order to understand the factors from which high morale stems, one must approach this characteristic from the point of view of the individual. Like courage, morale is a state of mind, a mixture of emotion and reason.

With high morale, all members of a group will work or fight and, if needed, will give their last half-ounce of effort. For individuals to feel and act like that, their morale must have certain foundations or things on which it is solidly and firmly based. It has been said that the great underlying force from which high morale stems is confidence —confidence in the future, and confidence in the organization, the methods, the commanders and the senior enlisted leaders, which provides the necessary mental foundation for high morale.

ESPRIT DE CORPS: Esprit de corps is group morale. Unit spirit is the magic substance that brings a military organization to life. Although quite intangible, esprit de corps is powerful enough to make two otherwise identical units as different as night and day in terms of their performance. This spirit stems largely from the pride and confidence shared by members of the unit that they belong to the best organization in the world.

I believe three factors contribute to esprit de corps: the belief that the organization is different from other units in some favorable respect, that the unit is famous for something and that the unit is effective.

I also believe that esprit de corps begins with the first sergeant. The “shirt” sets the tone and is the first person one should meet upon being assigned to a new organization. The “shirt” must have a sincere belief in the organization and confidence in its people and capacity.

EFFICIENCY: This characteristic can be defined as the ability to accomplish successfully an assigned task in the shortest possible time with the minimum expenditure of means and with the least possible confusion. Efficiency in a command is built by sound training and effective administration. It is enhanced by good discipline, high morale and esprit de corps.

Take a look around. Is your organization disciplined? Does it have high morale? Do you sense esprit de corps? Does the organization efficiently handle the mission? If not, you have the responsibility to fix that now! Everyone wants to be associated with a winner, and you can make that happen, for you are a leader.