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NEWS | Aug. 4, 2014

Leading with Lumber

By Maj. David Faggard 1st Combat Camera Squadron commander

When a new commander assumes command, Airmen may ask what the new commander's leadership style is like.

The principles below are my personal leadership philosophy, which I relate to the basics of building a home.

I believe leading is somewhat like carpentry. Through a carpenter's skill, he creates a home from interdependent materials. Similarly, a leader shapes followers, apprentices, leaders and master craftsmen.

First, a solid structure begins below the foundation, at the bedrock. The bedrock is the base on which everything rests; success is likely determined at this point. Air Force Instruction 1-1, Air Force Standards, provides a great starting point.

Although quite simple, I believe the Air Force core values, Integrity, Service and Excellence, outlined in AFI 1-1, transcend all Air Force specialties and personal backgrounds to provide a firm, solid footing. From this basic assumption, I believe Airmen want a place of worth, doing their best while contributing to something bigger than oneself. These core values provide a solid-base layer on which to build; it also helps us think twice before doing or saying something. It's the leaders' responsibility to motivate, mentor and train Airmen to ensure they understand how they support Air Force mission accomplishment and overall national security.

Second, carpenters must build a strong foundation-of-balance on solid bedrock. The success of this foundation stems from the balance of the materials used; a good source of grade-A materials is provided in the Air Force's four pillars of Comprehensive Airmen Fitness: mental, physical, social and spiritual strength. The materials of CAF are important, but success personally comes from the balance of them collectively, because without each of them, the structure would not be whole.

In addition to the CAF pillars, my foundation includes family and inner reflection. I believe balance cannot occur without balance in family. Life is finite as is our time in this Air Force; family makes our time on earth purposeful and enjoyable. Nurture, cultivate and love time with family.
To be balanced you need inner-reflection. Time must be set aside to self-develop and self-critique. In order to lead people, you must lead yourself. This final component is often the hardest and requires much devotion.

Finally, eight personal-pillars guide me after I balance my foundation on secure bedrock. These pillars help me make an impact on those I meet. First, lead by setting high personal standards for success; others will follow and emulate. Second, do not be afraid to change yourself in order to change the organization. Third, dream big, dream bold, and dream often. Fourth, inspire greatness in others from finding it within yourself. Inspirational times motivate others and they often motivate me. Fifth, train, teach and mentor everyone, including yourself. Sixth, it's ok to say no sometimes, especially in lean times; however, it's often easier trying to get to say yes. Seventh, do what you love. Eight, have fun.

I believe leading people is similar to how a carpenter creates a house. Similar to a house, strong ground provides a solid footing for leaders, and in my case the bedrock is AFI 1-1, Air Force Standards. A solid foundational balance, as outlined in the Air Force's approach to Comprehensive Airman Fitness provides me a sturdy base to lead. Eight pillars offer my personal direction.

Finally, a house's worth is evident by the carpenter's skill, learned from interactions over a lifetime.