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NEWS | Nov. 25, 2013

Situational leadership

By Col. Albert Miller 437th Airlift Wing deputy commander

Perhaps now, more than ever, the need for situational leadership is paramount.

Adversity has come in the form of a significantly reduced budget, civilian furloughs and government shutdown. We continually confront the enormous problems of preventing suicide and ending sexual assault in our Air Force. All of these challenges must be overcome while maintaining a high operations tempo with limited resources. It has been frustrating, it has been painful and, unfortunately, it will likely continue for the foreseeable future.

In these trying times, the success or failure of our organizations is hinged on situational leadership. Situational leadership is the theory there is no one leadership style that works best for every situation. Instead, leaders must customize their approach to match the people they lead and the task or challenge they face. Each of us tends to favor a particular leadership style, however, we can, and should, adopt other styles when the situation dictates.

No doubt, the challenges we face today will require difficult decisions, a lot of patience and resilience. An effective leader is one who understands each of these challenges is unique, and then adapts his or her leadership style to arrive at the optimum solution. For example, the leadership approach used to confront the problem of suicide is very different from the approach used to end sexual assault. Suicide prevention requires compassionate leadership, while matters of discipline likely require a much sterner approach.

Situational leadership applies to all of Team Charleston, not just to those in formal leadership positions. Today's challenges require innovation to prevail, and often those closest to the problem will have the best solution. Leaders, both formal and informal, must craft solutions to meet the needs of our people and our Air Force. This requires critical thought and innovation on the part of everyone.

The past year has been stressful for JB Charleston. We have endured a lot, managed numerous shortfalls and still we have achieved mission success. In the face of adversity, your resolve was unwavering and your attitude was inspiring. I am immensely proud of our team. Thank you!