Thursday, September 13, 2012

COMMENTARY>>Is your name on the mailbox?

By Chief Master Sgt. Gregory McNeil
19th Medical Group superintendent

Have you ever wondered why some organizations seem to function better than others? I’ve thought about this many times and there are numerous reasons why some organizations are more successful than others. One thing that makes an organization successful are unit members who take pride and ownership within their work centers. These individuals have clearly put their “name on the mailbox”, and are engaged not only in conquering daily challenges, but focusing on making their work centers better than they were when they arrived.

I currently rent my house. There is nothing wrong with being a renter, but often times you can drive through a neighborhood and have a good idea of which houses are rental properties and which houses are being lived in by their owners by how they appear from curbside. In some cases, you can tell by how the property is being taken care of; has the lawn been mowed or is there trash in the yard? If the yard hasn’t been kept up, obviously there’s no pride or ownership there. Those mailboxes are only being used to collect the daily junk mail received there. Are you a renter at work just using your mailbox to collect junk mail, or are you taking pride and ownership in your work centers? Are you dedicated to making your work centers better than they were when you arrived? Since we in the military frequently move, our time can be short term and it can become very easy to fall into the “renter” mentality. Those folks tell themselves the next person can deal with the problems, instead of fixing them ourselves.

What about when you’re deployed? Do you take pride and ownership in theater? This mentality can be even more detrimental because the stakes are so much higher. Times can be tough when you’re away from home station, and with all of the rotations coming in and out of the AOR, it can be easy to let complacency take over. Would you want to fly on an aircraft the maintainer did not take pride and ownership of? How about our security forces protecting the base perimeter or our personnel performing TCN duty? A lack of pride and ownership in any of these areas can certainly degrade our ability to get the mission done.

There isn’t a job in the Air Force that someone isn’t depending upon you to do, and to do well. We have an enemy that will wait us out until a “renter” shows up and for them to become complacent. The results of this can be catastrophic and it is imperative that we have our names on the mailbox around the globe twenty-four seven. I challenge you…take pride and ownership, because your actions reach farther than you think!

It’s always easy to place your name on the mailbox when things are going well. But, do you as a leader have your name on the mailbox when things go wrong? At times you may see someone not taking responsibility for things that go off-track and that is simply wrong. When something derails take ownership! Figure out why it went wrong and find a solution! That’s ownership and having your name on the mailbox. If you as a leader don’t take ownership during the tough times, you certainly cannot expect anybody on your team to.

You never know the extent to which your actions will affect a fellow Airman or the mission. No matter what your task, or where you go, take pride and ownership in everything you do. Avoid the temptation to collect junk mail. Instead, take the opportunity to make positive and decisive changes. With our ops tempo and challenges we can’t afford anything less. Challenging times are the truest test of leadership, and ownership during difficult circumstances is the key to building cohesive teams. We are the dominate Air Force in the world and we didn’t get that way without having our name solidly on the mailbox. Team Little Rock is a highly successful organization and that is a direct result of the pride and ownership each one of you delivers in everything you do. Thanks for your service!

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