Command philosophy: professionalism, mission, balance

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Bradley Glenister
  • 434th Flying Training Squadron

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – Professionalism, Mission, and Balance are key components of my command philosophy. These are components that I feel are crucial for mission success, the health of the force, longevity, personal satisfaction, and personal drive. As Airmen, we devote a significant amount of time and dedication to the mission, working long hours, generally much more than what is expected in corporate America, often investing more than 60 to 80 hours a week. The squadron is the heart of the Air Force, and as such, the work horse. With long hours and days accomplishing the mission, the sacrifices made by being away from family and friends can be challenging, which is why professionalism, mission, and balance are critical to the success of any squadron or organization. 


The mission, as part of my command philosophy, is the easiest to explain so I will lead with that. The mission is the squadron's, group's or wing's purpose, its goal, its critical aspects, where failure could have significant national security implications. The mission is what we each train for, our military purpose, the reason we went to technical school, the reason the US government invested millions of dollars into us, and is why we train and apply our skillsets each and every day. Our mission here at Laughlin is no fail just like many other missions around the Air Force.


Professionalism is one of the glues that binds units together and provides the atmosphere necessary to be effective in mission execution. Think about how unprofessional behavior like harassment, hazing, and slander can have negative impacts on the health of the force, desire for longevity, and personal satisfaction. In a high performing organization like the US Air Force, lack of professionalism will rot units from the inside. Letting it fester can lead to systemic failures in retention, productivity, quality of life, job satisfaction, and ability to execute the mission. 


Professionalism is one of the reasons that the military is more respected then most other jobs or organizations. I spent most of my career in Air Force Special Operations Command and Special Operators are often referred to as “Quiet Professionals.” Special Operators generally have a get it done attitude when it comes to mission accomplishment. They do what is necessary to accomplish the mission, they do it professionally, and quietly. Mission completion and successful accomplishment is the satisfaction that creates the drive. When individuals act and remain professional, things tends to fall into place. Harassment, hazing, assaults, discrimination, bullying, toxic leadership/attitudes, and unprofessional relationships are not tolerated in a professional environment, and when unprofessional behavior occurs, it significantly degrades a unit’s ability to operate. Being professional is being inclusive, not exclusive. If people strive to be and act professional, these detractors are minimized. When unprofessional behavior occurs, it causes individuals to feel ostracized and creates unit division. The Air Force Core Values of integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do epitomizes professionalism and what we should all strive for. 


To be an effective leader you must be and act professional. We are Airmen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We should be professional on and off duty and incorporate professionalism into all aspects of our lives. We each are empowered to train and mold the next generation of Airmen, it is imperative we do this right, set the right culture, attitude, and example. It starts with professionalism. If people are not acting professionally in your unit, make changes. Demand and maintain high standards in all areas. Set the example, if you do not act professionally, how can you expect your followers to act and be professional? Lead by example!   


Balance, the last component of my command philosophy, can often be at odds with mission execution. To run a successful unit, organization, or squadron, it takes more than just mission focus, execution, and professionalism. For each of us to be successful, we need balance in our life, balance at work, balance at home, balance with family, and internal balance (physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, etc). Without personal and professional balance, the mission will suffer. As military members we generally work long hours to include deployments and temporary duty. Long hours away from home, friends, and family, takes its toll. Take the time when you can to invest in yourself, your family, and your friends, because at times you will find it difficult to do. People want to have the ability to have dinner with their families, go to ball games with their kids, and be involved in their families’ lives.  We often spend more waking hours with our coworkers then our spouses and loved ones. If you become burned out at work due to the operations tempo, you may become resentful, productivity may fall, and retention may become a factor. Finding that balance is key. 


Professionalism should be the foundation for how each of us act, interact, and behave. The Air Force core values, Integrity first, Service before self, and Excellence in all we do, is all about professionalism and being that professional we each strive to be. Mission is our core goal, and in the military it often comes with national security impacts, and without balance in all aspects of our lives, nothing can be sustained.