Sequestration? Time for Leaders to Lead

SELFRIDGE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mich. -- OK, so we've driven off that fiscal cliff and triggered Sequestration. Now what?

Many of us who work for the government are asking ourselves that very question. The answer is not an easy one to put into words, but I will try.

It will not be business as usual, no matter what you want to think. There will be changes to many of our lives. Many of us are impacted financially, others in different ways, but we will all recognize that it is not business as usual. But the leaders who are reading this will decide to do something that helps. They will lead.

So what is a leader? According to Harry S. Truman, "A leader is a man who has the ability to get other people to do what they don't want to do, and like it." Over the past year, we have faced the struggle of keeping our A-10 Thunderbolt II's here at Selfridge, along with the men and women who support them. We have leaders at all levels in our unit who played a part in the outcome. We have leaders who fought the battle and won. We have leaders who convinced their workers that the planes would be staying put and they should, too. We have leaders who saw the best in others and pushed them to be their best. We have leaders up and down the chain of command who did what they had to do.

Men and women of all ranks can be leaders. I have known many good leaders throughout my life, too many to mention. The one thing they all had in common was that they listened. Books on leadership that I read say that this is one of the most important aspects of a leader. It doesn't mean they are weak, but that they want to have as much information as possible before taking an action. Even though the adage, "the squeaky wheel gets the grease" often demonstrates that people who are vocal can get things done, it is often the people who are sitting back and listening that get recognition in the end.

Another trait that leaders demonstrate is they have set goals. Do you have a goal? What are you doing to move yourself closer to it? Having a goal allows you to focus energy towards achieving it.

I think our goals as a unit have to evolve, at least for the short term. We have to focus on doing everything we can with the resources we have available. We have to do it safely. And we have to understand that we will get through this together.

So, getting back to my first question, what now? The leaders in our unit, at all levels, will see this as an opportunity to demonstrate their ability to lead. If you work with people, you have the opportunity to lead. If you are reading this, you have an opportunity to lead. So figure out how you can help lead, and do it.