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Respect, Connect, Correct: A Simple Mantra for Squadron Strength

Lt. Col. Bryan Foley, 85th Flying Training Squadron commander, goes over his montra for squadron strength. "In any high-performing organization, especially one dedicated to instruction or training, personal relationships and technical credibility form cornerstones to success," Foley said. "At every unit all-call, and upon meeting any new squadron member, I emphasize a three word mantra aimed to focus efforts on building credibility and strengthening relationships – Respect, Connect, Correct."

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --

In any high-performing organization, especially one dedicated to instruction or training, personal relationships and technical credibility form cornerstones to success. At every unit all-call, and upon meeting any new squadron member, I emphasize a three word mantra aimed to focus efforts on building credibility and strengthening relationships – Respect, Connect, Correct. I hope that each member of my unit drives to foster a culture of mutual respect, strong interconnectedness, and a dedication to technical expertise, both individually and as an organization.  These three verbs, “Respect, Connect, Correct,” provide an action plan to strengthen the squadron and achieve the Air Force’s Core Values of “Integrity First, Service before Self and Excellence in All We Do.”

Respect

Mutual respect is part of the foundation for a well-functioning organization. At a minimum, I expect that every member of the squadron uphold a no-tolerance standard for discrimination, harassment and hazing. Instructors and support personnel must develop professional relationships with students and trainees based on interpersonal respect. The old adage that “people won’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care” rings especially true in training organizations. Furthermore, respect for one another’s ideas, beliefs and time permits innovation and efficiency, enabling members to explore new processes and methods free from repercussion or ridicule. Mutual respect is a partner virtue of Integrity, each are paramount for a relationship based on trust, and without them credibility is lost.

Connect

Positive squadron interconnectedness amongst members and families is a tell-tale sign of a healthy unit. Both on and off-duty relationships foster enthusiasm and trust, which drive improved work performance. In the 85th Flying Training Squadron, we encourage all forms of communication—virtual engagement and social interaction—among unit members, family and friends, to connect each other beyond basic workplace relationships. Interconnectedness further builds mutual respect and makes placing “Service before Self” more meaningful and less obligatory. It is important to actively seek opportunities to promote connectedness within the entire squadron. Genuine interconnectedness inculcates a desire to help others, as well as fosters morale and a sense of community among squadron members and families. 

Correct

The pursuit of excellence begins in the technical competence, and has two primary facets:  1) Unit members must seek strong foundational job knowledge. 2) Members must be willing to give and accept constructive feedback. A drive to be correct, a willingness to correct others, and an openness to be corrected builds both technical credibility and establishes strong unit relationships. In a training squadron, instructor’s technical expertise and knowledge of instructions and procedures serve as a basis for all training. When an instructor strives to be correct and willingly accepts feedback, it sets a positive example for trainees and provides the foundation for instructor credibility. While it is impossible to attain perfection, dedication to technical competency is the first step to achieving excellence in all we do. 

“Respect, Connect, Correct” is not a complex mantra, but it is one that establishes the actions I find most foundational to unit health and performance. Furthermore, the words reflect the core values of our service and provide actionable pursuits focused on the unit or tactical level. Founded in the core values, these three words drive actions that foster credibility and community, which are essential in a training organization.