Are you a leader?

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- As military members, we hear the words "leader" and "leadership" almost daily. Think of the last time you read an enlisted or officer performance report, or decoration and didn't see these words. Yet, as often as we hear the words "leadership" and "leader", it is very possible that their meaning can become watered down or lost in the high operations tempo we experience daily as Airmen.

Leadership is important. Leadership is vital. But how do we master it? How do we lead? True leadership is quiet and meaningful. It is instilled, not through clamoring speeches or aggressive styles, but through example.

About 5 months ago a few members of our squadron had an idea that would save time, money and energy. Without pomp or circumstance, they identified and evaluated their plan and implemented a test. What they did will save countless time and money, both very precious commodities in our Air Force today. They are leaders and their efforts will make a difference. We can all learn from their example.

Another case in point--energy savings, the new hot topic in the Air Force, Department of Defense and local community. Through tried and tested means, conserving energy has made huge positive impacts in reducing already overly stressed fiscal budgets and lessened our "footprint" on the environment.  

Brad King, the base energy manager, in conjunction with wing leadership, has developed a strategic energy plan on how we can achieve our federally mandated energy conservation goals. 

But our success can not solely rest on his shoulders or even on our senior leaders. Whether or not Vandenberg successfully reduces our energy consumption in alignment with federal mandates will ultimately depend on all of us and the example we set. Tomorrow or later today, when you see a light on in a vacant room, will you turn it off? Will you leave your radio on when you go to lunch? Will you run the air conditioner or open a window? When we seek and find these opportunities to lead by example, we showcase our Vandenberg culture of excellence. A culture that we all must help cultivate through positive action and example.

Whether discussing energy conservation efforts or not drinking and driving, if you're going to lead, remember to lead by example. Remember, it is not our rank that defines us as leaders but our actions. It is not in our speeches that we will motivate, as much as our day-to-day practices and actions.

Recently, Dr. Jeffery Zink spoke to Team Vandenberg about ethics and his first question to us all was "where are the leaders?"  By the end of the hour we all raised our hand high. Dr. Zink has gone home but his question still resonates loudly...is your hand still held high? Don't "chunk" a single opportunity...LEAD.