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Take ownership in your squadron family

393rd Bomb Squadron (U.S. Air Force graphic)

393rd Bomb Squadron (U.S. Air Force graphic)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. --

Commanders often describe their squadrons as a family. What does that mean to you? Think about the dynamics in your own family. What are the challenges? What makes it special? Family means different things to different people.

For some, family means being a member of a group whose members have each other’s backs, on or off duty. The group’s members are personally invested in the unit and its leadership would fall on his or her sword on an Airman’s behalf.

The squadron is the most important organization in the Air Force. It’s where we, as a military, win or lose.

Recently, I read an article in Forbes magazine that really hit home for me. The article’s goal was to explain why family-owned corporations tend to be more successful than others. Think of Walmart, Ford Motor Company and Campbell Soup Company. According to the article, one of the reasons was employees are allowed to take ownership in the company. Just like family members take ownership of their families, I would like Airmen to take ownership and help guide their squadrons.

When I took command of the 393d Bomb Squadron Tigers last year, I remember telling my wife that I wanted everyone to want to come to work. I wanted them to be an integral part of helping me vector our squadron in the direction I thought it needed to go. I had no doubt they would get the mission done, but I wanted them to enjoy being in the squadron and a member of our Tiger family.

You’ve probably heard the phrase “the door swings both ways.” We all have established chains of command but, based on what I’ve seen in my short career as a squadron commander, great ideas only sometimes start at the top. Airmen should be aggressive in pushing good ideas to their leadership. I love it when the folks who I work with come into my office and say, “Hey Boss, I’ve got a great idea …” Then, I do what I think every good commander should do: provide top cover and get out of the way. That’s my job. Yours is to take the initiative and help shape your squadron. Take ownership in your squadron family. Set the tone and look out for the members of your squadron like you would for your own family.

Striking the desired balance with respect to squadron involvement is a two-way street. It’s up to the individual Airman to take advantage of the climate his or her squadron commander creates and get involved. As the fictional sports agent Jerry McGuire famously said, “Help me help you.”

Supporting each other, hanging out after work, volunteering together and taking advantage of a climate where ideas can be easily communicated are all essential to morale and a healthy squadron family.

What really makes a squadron family special is when each individual pitches in. Just like in most families, each individual makes his or her own unique contribution. It’s not just doing the job itself; it’s about all the intangibles an individual can bring to the squadron to make it better.

Build your squadron, take care of each other and, above all, don’t let your family down. TIGER … TIGER … TIGER.