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Leadership and overcoming obstacles

  • Published
  • By Jacqueline Falkner
  • 507th Air Refueling Wing Director of Psychological Health

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. - Being in my position, I have witnessed some absolutely wonderful scenes of Airmanship and unity. Unfortunately, I've also witnessed some awful scenes of when leadership, supervisors and Airmen had little to no concern for their jobs or others. I often ask myself why this is.

I remember being deployed and meeting Retired U.S. Army Gen. Colin Powell, the former secretary of state. Powell said, “Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.”

I will never forget that. I’ve written it down and made it my mantra to help people when they need it. I do my best to be a leader, even if it makes waves and causes rifts.

All commanders should work hard to mentor, develop and hold subordinate supervisors accountable. Improving flight leadership capabilities results in better supervisors, which results in Airmen feeling valued and cared for, so they will ultimately perform better and hopefully continue to serve. 

Building strong units starts with leadership. If they are already strong, we can work to make them even better. No leader wants to be defined as a toxic leader, but some get caught up in the drive towards mission objectives and they forget about the people.

Like all Airmen, I have dealt with my share of obstacles, both personally and professionally. So I understand many are scared that I’m going to ruin their jobs or careers, but that is not my goal. I am here to provide assistance to members of our wing, in hopes of solving problems before they become unmanageable.

In the past year, I have helped more than 30 Airmen find resources and programs that enabled them to take care of their families so they can focus on their daily jobs. I talk to Airmen, spouses and families to try to help them with stress, anxiety and other issues; whether it’s through a referral to a counselor or a budgeting class. I am in the community more than you know.

It is an honor to be able to see everyone working together, whether they’re in uniform or a civilian. I appreciate the members of our wing for their sacrifice and commitment to excellence, integrity and service. If you need assistance, contact me anytime at 734-6347.