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COMMENTARY: Clear is the color of leadership

RAF MILDENHALL, England -- Be transparent. Define a clear direction to mission accomplishment and be dedicated to assigned personnel.

These traits are essential to a leader's success.

The approach and personal leadership traits you choose to implement culminate in a unique style of leadership that will set the tone and ultimately determine your organization's successes - or failures.

Transparency is an essential and vital element in effective leadership. A clear agenda must be communicated to all assigned personnel within a squadron, flight, section or detail.

A leader must not have a hidden agenda when guiding subordinates and forging the way to accomplish the mission. Under stressful times, the hidden agenda may rise to the surface and potentially erode trust within the unit or throughout an organization. "Pressure will burst a pipe" is what my grandma used to say - one's real motive will be revealed under pressure. Hopefully, the motives exposed are identical to the original agenda communicated prior to the storm.

Unequivocally, having a clear direction with defined expectations is another key element to set an attainable target. Establishing and reaching a set goal is a quantifiable measurement of success. For instance, processing five people through a mobility line every 60 minutes during an 8-hour shift equals 40 people per shift. This data point can be used to determine if the team met the leader's expectations equaling success or to identify constraints preventing the team from reaching the goal.

A challenge for each leader is to set clear expectations for your team of professionals. No one reports to work looking forward to falling short or yielding negative results.

Dedication to all your assigned personnel is servant leadership. This is a pretty tall order and a huge risk to assume. The goal is not to disappoint a single Airman due to lack of effort.

At the end of my tenure as a commander, I pray that I have met my Airmen's expectations as a leader. I have found that dedication to subordinates improves attitudes in the work place; in turn, a positive attitude improves the quality of work. When leaders are loyal and dedicated to their assigned personnel, the assigned personnel are dedicated to accomplish the mission. On the surface, this seems like a very basic formula usually leading to success - it is. Within thousands of professional development and self-help books written, these basic traits are often a common thread.

Transparent leaders clearly define team goals, set realistic expectations while remaining dedicated to their team and this ultimately fosters a successful environment.