Do common things uncommonly well

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Rich Parsons
  • 366th Training Sq/Det 6 Superintendent
In my years of service, I have found some common traits to be of great importance to me, not only as a person, but as an Airman and a leader. I will share with you how character, charisma and commitment are traits that we should embody. All of these common traits, if displayed uncommonly well, can increase the likelihood of successful leadership.

"Character" is a trait that I feel can make or break a person, not to mention leadership ability. Webster's 1913 Dictionary, defines character as "the peculiar quality, or the sum of qualities, by which a person or a thing is distinguished from others..." On one end of the character spectrum there are qualities that one would want to follow or emulate, and on the other there are qualities that would not benefit anyone if they followed. If a person fails to exhibit the proper character traits, it is unlikely that they will be an effective leader. There are some misguided folks that might still follow this type of leader, but they soon find out that they made a mistake.

I personally feel that character is something that is developed over time, based on the values and beliefs that a person holds true, as well as the people that serve in influential roles throughout life. Values are typically learned either from family, friends or life-experience. I also feel that just as a person can have a change of values as they progress through life, so too can their character change, perhaps by way of a solid mentoring relationship. So, strive to keep your character on the "follow or emulate" side of the spectrum. While character is one of the common things that great leaders should exhibit uncommonly well, the same can be said for charisma.

Charisma is a leadership trait that I feel is a complimentary to character. Merriam-Webster's Dictionary defines it as "a personal magic of leadership arousing special popular loyalty or enthusiasm." It can also be described with words like allure, appeal or "oomph". Whether you opt to use the word oomph, enthusiasm, charisma, or some other word, the choice is yours. After all, it is not the word that is important, rather the action that is taken by the individual.

An important thing to keep in mind about charisma is that it has to be genuine and matched to your personality. If it is seen as shallow or fake, then you will likely not achieve the results that you are hoping for, and will likely push people away. My advice is to be natural in your ways, let folks get to know you, and they will know when you are charged to do something...even if it has less "oomph" than others. Although this might not seem like a common trait for some, it is important that you make your own "magic of leadership." Do this uncommonly well, and you can inspire others with your enthusiasm, and in-turn receive an unexpected loyalty. Equipped with an uncommonly solid character and infectious charisma, you are prepped to take on leadership with an unwavering commitment.

The last common trait that leaders should exhibit is commitment. According to McMillan's Online Dictionary, committment is defined as "a strong belief in something; enthusiasm for something and a determination to work hard at it; a duty or responsibility." There are a few buzz words in the definition that stand out to me. I like belief because it ties back into the first trait: character. It is the strong belief in something that is likely to cause a person, and in our context, a leader, to act a certain way. Hopefully your beliefs are in line with what most would consider an uncommonly good character. The word enthusiasm relates well with the common leadership trait, charisma. That brings me to the last buzz word that stood out from the definition--responsibility. A true leader should take responsibility for leading Airmen. As a leader, I guarantee you that you will be held responsible for those that you are charged to lead!

I encourage you to be a leader that does the common things, uncommonly well. Be a leader with revered qualities that will allow your character to speak volumes, without a single word being spoken. Strive to be a leader that Airmen are eager to follow because you have a natural "magic" leadership quality, which can only come from genuine charisma. Embrace the fact that being a leader is an important aspect of your career, and make the commitment needed to be the best leader and supervisor possible. There are many other qualities and traits that I could have focused on, but for me, the leadership traits of character, charisma and commitment are three common things that leaders should be able to do uncommonly well.