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Great leaders build teams, inspire others

Col. Michael Blowers

Col. Michael Blowers

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – We’ve all probably heard the old adage: There’s no “I” in team.

A good leader follows it, but a great leader will get the entire team into this mentality and build them up by fostering leadership in the workplace. Every Airman is truly an asset to the team and brings value by working together.

If you want to get your unit on track for success and help mold future leaders, you have to build your team up to its full potential. To encourage leadership in the workplace and become the best role model you can be for your team, follow these six tips:

  • First, be a mentor. We all had someone we looked up to. Regardless of who your role model was, they all have one thing in common: They helped you grow into the person you are today and led you in the right direction.

Mentoring Airmen helps build your workforce into future leaders. Without a strong workforce and solid foundation, your unit can quickly crumble.

To be an all-star mentor and foster leadership within your workplace, you need to: (1) listen to your Airmen, (2) check in with them on a regular basis, (3) allow Airmen to learn from their mistakes and (4) delegate tasks to foster growth.

  • Second, recognize accomplishments. If you want to lead a productive team and grow your Airmen into leaders, you have to show them you care and appreciate their accomplishments. If you’re not taking the time to recognize Airmen for their hard work, there’s no better time than the present.
  • Third, invest in your team. You can’t expect your team members to grow into leaders if you don’t invest the time and energy into them in the first place. If you want to unleash your team’s full potential, you have to invest in them.

To help Airmen expand their skill sets, consider things such as executive coaching, conferences and workshops. Investing in your team is a win-win for everyone. Airmen are able to improve and expand their skills, and your unit becomes more knowledgeable as a whole.

  • Fourth, offer consistent and constructive feedback. If you want to grow Airmen into leaders, you have to not only provide consistent feedback, but also constructive feedback.

Being a leader and mentor also means receiving constructive feedback from your team. As a mentor and leader with the goal of creating prospective leaders, you should set aside time to meet with your team regularly and share feedback both ways.

  • Fifth, build a positive work environment. For a workplace to be successful, it needs to be open, trusting and fun. Positive workplaces can improve productivity and morale, as well as give Airmen a workplace where they can shine, feel at home and share innovative ideas.
  • Lastly, know when to ask questions. You wouldn’t be the person you are today if you didn’t make a few mistakes along the way.

You aren’t always going to have all the answers — and that’s OK. Part of fostering leadership is admitting when you don’t have the answer and seeking help when you need it.

Don’t know the answer? Ask your team. You don’t have to know it all to be a great leader.

You have a huge wealth of information in your Airmen, so don’t let it go untapped. When seeking help from your team, you benefit by getting the answers you need and learning something new. Plus, it gives Airmen the opportunity to showcase their knowledge and skills.

In closing, I leave you with this leadership quote from Simon Sinek: “The true value of a leader is not measured by the work they do, but by the work they inspire others to do.”