Humble, credible, approachable

  • Published
  • By Col. Michael Burke
  • 21st Medical Group commander
Fellow Knights, as I write this commentary the Waldo Canyon Fire rages on and has been for six days. I know I speak for all of us when I say that my heart goes out to all who have lost so much as a result of this tragedy and relay a resounding 'thanks' to those working to extinguish the blaze and assist those in need.

The most obvious thing for me to write about is the incredible teamwork, resolute Wingmanship and community partnership I've observed from all of you as we've charged the fire and contingency response head-on. But, I have a sneaking suspicion that our Lead Knight, Col. Chris Crawford, will have some words to say on that and think it best to not steal his thunder. Especially since we medics performed a rock-ectomy recently from his anterior landscape (i.e. stole his spirit rock)! As such, I'll shift gears and quickly share with you three of my favorite attributes of leaders, followers and everyone in between.

This week, I lost a great friend around here to retirement. I think you all knew her and will always remember her - Col. Kim Conner, our previous mission support group commander. Without doubt, she had an amazing impact on the installation, in the community, but most importantly on our people. Thinking about the fun, challenges and successes we shared over this past year, it was apparent to me that she subscribed to three fundamental leadership attributes that I have always appreciated in those around me...humility, credibility and approachability. Maybe that's why I liked her so much. These attributes are certainly not new to any of us yet are fundamental to all of us, regardless of rank or position, and are a cornerstone upon which we should develop our leadership ethos. Best wishes and Godspeed to you Kim.

I'm also a big fan of Gen. Colin Powell for his insightful yet pragmatic approach. We all seem to have our favorite quotes, here's one of mine from him: "Leadership is solving problems. The day Soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership." You don't have to chew on this for long to catch his indirect reflection on credibility and approachability...humility is unstated but understood.

Please be Humble. No matter how good you are at what you do, stay grounded -- don't let it go to your head. There is no room for boasters, blowhards or bigmouths in the Profession of Arms.

Please be Credible. Strive to be an expert in your duties and everything you endeavor. Become the subject-matter expert that people seek out. Don't just know your 'stuff,' understand what makes it tick. Think deeply, be intuitive, 'feel the force Luke!'

Please be Approachable. Always be confident and not arrogant...if you're credible and humble, people will find you to be approachable. Take the time to know your people by name, listen and be engaging...don't be judgmental or critical (unless you're on the IG of course). Oh, and smile.

So whether you're fresh out of basic training, you pilot mega-million dollar satellites, defend our perimeter or perform life-saving thoracic surgeries, do so with these attributes in mind. Be Humble, Credible and Approachable and your Airmen will keep bringing you their problems and know that you care.