Motivational leadership

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Troy VanBemmelen
  • 394th Combat Training Squadron commander
What motivates us? We go to work to do our jobs and we all expect the work we do will have an impact, the satisfaction of what we've done matters and it truly does. 

The definition of "what matters or motivates us" is different for each individual. For some it's money, others working a trade craft and still others it's pleasing superiors. 

There are literally hundreds of things that motivate us; there are more than can be addressed. One of the toughest parts of motivation is the willingness of the individual to work through the times in the job or mission that, at times, makes you feel like your work isn't ever good enough. 

This isn't your fault, mistakes happen; training wasn't fully accomplished or was incomplete; or corrective instruction wasn't given or even lack of guidance wasn't available to what was expected. 

We are not all perfect, we rely consistently on the professionals who have "been there, done that," personally experienced the same situations or had the training that you might not have had yet. 

We do not all start out as experts and therefore we have to crawl, walk and run throughout our entire career and eventually you will become that supervisor that provides the lessons, mentoring and guidance to keep the ones below you motivated and make you feel you are doing what we expected you to do and more. 

The fortunate thing with our jobs back here in the rear - from an organize, train and equip perspective - is there generally isn't the motivation of the enemy out there to inflict harm on you directly. 

The world is a changing place and the enemy truly has the capability to affect us here or anywhere and not necessarily when or where we expect it. 

But don't let your guard down simply because you are at home station, because every action has the potential to injure someone or break something as consequences of unmotivated attitudes. 

We can't afford to allow this to happen. The cost of doing business has gone up and the work force backfills continue to get less and less. 

The snowball effect of the poison pill in the work place has to be filtered and cut to save the well-being of those trying to keep the right sense/attitude in the work place. 

There is a balance/link between correction, discipline and motivation and it generally comes in the form we don't always understand. 

The criticality/time sensitive nature of situations causes leadership to be very directive at times. This is not to say we do not appreciate the work that is being done, but rather with the time we have to take action and dismiss with the pleasantries to accomplish the mission. 

At the end of the situation/mission, there is generally time to explain/congratulate/reflect on lessons learned. We don't need to add to that cost in money or personnel do to something we have definite control over/impact on from the motivation side of the house. 

It is up to everyone from the top all the way to the bottom. The tricky part for leaders is to find those little, yes, little things to keep our people going through some of the daily grind. It is the small compliments about these daily grind things that show the individuals/people what you are doing is being noticed. 

It comes in many forms - from time off awards, to promotion, more money, bonuses, a thank you or even the satisfaction of the outcome of the mission. 

I don't know how many times I have personally seen a crew chief bust his butt to simply get a training mission off on scheduled time due to some unforeseen malfunction and the crew chief's motivation to work through the malfunction with his knowledge/expertise to make that on-time take off happen and him knowing that he aided/solved the issue safely is a good sense of job satisfaction and self motivation. 

I wish I could be in more places all of the time to make sure I could pass on more compliments. This isn't always the case and it is important to be motivated within yourself and have satisfaction with what you do, because without it we will never get the mission done. 

My personal opinion is that we have the best motivation available to us already and that is why we joined the military. The one that keeps our way of life the way it is today. 

Do not rest on those laurels; it takes all of us to be mentally prepared to come to work and the motivation to do it. Our daily mission is to continue to provide a capability to protect our nation when we are called 24 /7.