The Leadership Triads

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BLUF – A synchronized strategy of leadership is more effective than individual efforts.

For the traditional squadron, most are familiar with the Leadership Triad: Commander, Superintendent, First Sergeant.

  • Commander – Both formal and informal leader at all times. Responsible for effective operation of assigned mission, health and welfare of people, and resource management.
  • Superintendent – Senior advisor on all enlisted subject areas. Responsible for ensuring proper growth of assigned enlisted force and provides career counsel.
  • First Sergeant – Senior advisor on all disciplinary issues. Coordinates with base support agencies to provide required and optional services for any personnel issues that may adversely effect the mission.

The Leadership Triad can have additional members such as the Director of Operations or Civilian Deputy/Director, but in general these three positions a serve as the core of leadership of the squadron. Additional roles and responsibilities such as awards or board presidents can be applied as well. Regardless, the Leadership Triad serves as a small council to the Commander to make informed decisions for the squadron. If formed correctly, open dialogue is welcomed and expected from all three positions so that all angles can be considered prior to decision. Time may not always support that desire, of which the Commander still remains responsible to take action. Most, if not all, decisions that are unique in nature have enough time time be double-checked for clarity. As time goes on, both common and repetitive actions will reduce the amount of council necessary for actions to be taken any of the three positions. Time can be saved once trust and understanding is built within the Leadership Triad, thus making everyone more efficient.

Another triad to be aware of is the Command Triad: Responsibility, Authority, and Accountability. These traits are unique to the Commander and should also be deliberately considered in everyday action. Overview:

  • Responsibility – whether you like it or not, the actions of everyone under your command is your responsibility. That means both on and off duty. You are responsible for delivering effects to support your commander’s priorities and your mission partner’s dependencies on what your team provides. If your team is unable to organically provide the effect, you are expected to work within your functional community to obtain the effect. If someone under your command commits a crime or engages in behavior not commensurate with military service, you must take the appropriate action to preserve good order and discipline. Your responsibility is to take action that is consistent with your values and those of the profession of arms. These are not always clean and distinct answers, but you must make the decision regardless.
  • Authority – As commander on G-series orders, you have the unique ability to control the destiny of the career for everyone under your command. Everyone. Choices you make will stand as official record of performance, either good or bad, that will effect the member’s career. Each signature you apply and every verbal order spoken will either restrict or extend one’s career. You will also serve as official authority for all fiscal responsibilities, to include budget decisions and equipment account reconciliations. All of these responsibilities contain decisions that can be made under sound council should you allow them. Resource and enlisted advisors can provide you invaluable insight…but in the end your decision is the final authority.
  • Accountability – The most empowering trait you have the ability to enforce within your team is to hold everyone accountable to their position and performance. As mentioned in my leadership philosophy #AlphabetAerobics, everyone has dual roles within the squadron: their rank and their assigned duties. Your job is ensure everyone pulls their own weight accordingly. This applies to supervisors and subordinates, meaning feedback (both constructive and positive) must be consistently applied so that no one is surprised when evaluations are presented. By enforcing accountability, you promote an environment where every team position is important and everyone must move in the same direction. When someone is out of sync, there should be no question who must correct the movement.

Both the Leadership and Command Triads can be effectively used to lead your squadron to success. The underlying theme amongst the two Triads is that the Commander is not alone. He or she has decision authority alone, but does not have to make these decisions in isolation. Sound experience and energy is available to the Commander and should not be wasted. When both of these Triads are deliberately shaped and applied effectively, everyone within the squadron will benefit.

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