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Leadership starts with service to organization

Servant leadership is key for Rainier Wing

Col. Sean Pierce, who took command of the 446th Airlift Wing in January, believes in being a servant leader. Photo credit: U.S. Air Force Reserve

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January marked a change of pace for the Rainier Wing. We rang in the New Year and said goodbye to an incredibly instrumental wing commander, Col. Scott McLaughlin, who transitioned to become the Fourth Air Force director of staff.

During the change of command ceremony, where I became the 25th commander of the 446th Airlift Wing, I spoke about my command philosophy. Being a leader starts first with serving your organization.

It is through servant leadership that I want to empower members of the Rainier Wing to accomplish our mission. This leadership concept isn't just relevant for a Reserve wing; it is applicable to many different types of organizations.

As the leader of your organization, you set the stage for success or failure. The most effective leaders do not seek power, wealth, or fame; they seek to make a difference in the lives of others. Servant leadership enables others to lead and strengthens an organization by strengthening the people within that organization.

Servant leadership is about authentically leading and developing one's subordinates as well as oneself.

It's about the Air Force's core value of service before self and placing unit needs above your individual needs. It's about striving for excellence and to mentor others so the entire organization thrives. It's about integrity and doing what is right all the time.

Being proactive about addressing shortfalls and issues is going to ensure our ability to meet future challenges. As a servant leader, I will do my best to employ the foresight to ensure members of our wing are a part of the decision-making process.

Having commitment to the growth of our officer and enlisted corps will also ensure we are postured to groom the next generation of leaders.

Starting out as a helicopter flight leader with the California Army National Guard taught me a lot of things about leadership. So did a lot of the mentors I've had along the way. True leadership starts with knowing your organization at every level and making sure people have a voice and the confidence in themselves to use it.

The challenges and changes the military as a whole are experiencing will push leaders to switch into high gear to be able to flex to meet operational requirements. Making a difference in the lives of others through effective leadership will encourage military members and future leaders to meet these challenges head on.

As the reserve component at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, our Reserve citizen airmen work to manage full-time civilian careers while ensuring they're ready to deploy when called upon. The key component to leading a part-time force is going to be ensuring they've got the resources needed to plan out support to worldwide operational missions. To accomplish this, stability and predictability are necessary.

The Air Force Reserve is now increasingly relied on for steady state readiness -- from flying airlift channel, firefighting, aerial spray and hurricane hunter missions, to providing highly-skilled medical and aeromedical personnel.

Our role as a strategic force held in "reserve" evolved into an operational Reserve force. That's certainly descriptive of the Rainier Wing, as we support Operation Deep Freeze National Science Foundation research, providing continuity and expertise in one of the most austere environments in the world.

There is no doubt that 2018 will bring us many demanding situations. As leaders, it's on us to make decisions to take care of our people. Employing servant leadership is just one leadership tactic, but it's one that I take to heart and will remain committed to throughout my career.

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