STRIPES: a vision of leadership

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Marcus Snoddy
  • 425th Air Base Group superintendent
When I first assumed my responsibilities as the 425th Air Base Group superintendent, I wondered what would be the best way to introduce myself to the enlisted men and women of the group. After some considerable thought, and a few deftly placed prayers, it finally struck me. The best way I could introduce myself to the exceptional Airmen assigned to the group was to share with them my personal leadership philosophy.

As a student at the United States army sergeants major academy one of my toughest assignments was to develop my own leadership philosophy. It was tough because as an enlisted Airman I'd never been asked to state or share the beliefs and ideals that made me a leader. As my instructor, Australian warrant officer Mark Kelljgren, described the assignment to our class he highlighted two very important pieces of information: It didn't have to be some "earth shattering" or overly complex dissertation and it had to be yours and not something you'd read about or "borrowed" from one of your classmates.

He emphasized the last point by telling us that we needed to write something that we truly believed in. If we didn't, then the first time we found ourselves in a challenging situation or character-defining moment, the fallacies of our philosophy would immediately present themselves to those we were tasked to lead. So with these points firmly embedded in my mind, I began to work on the assignment.

At first I wasn't sure what to write. I didn't really know how to describe my "tenets" of leadership, because I'd never had to lay them out for others to see before. However, after some considerable thought on the things or issues I'd championed throughout my career, a pattern began to emerge. Regardless of the issue, each time I got involved in a situation or took it upon myself to "share" my thoughts with my fellow Airmen, the central theme always fell into one of these areas: standards, teamwork, respect, integrity, professionalism, excellence and selfless service. Based on this new insight I hurriedly crafted my philosophy and shared it with my instructor.

Since graduating from the sergeants major academy, I've reviewed and tweaked my philosophy just a little. In fact, during a recent assignment I came across an acronym that clearly expressed my philosophy that I adopted it and adapted it to me. That acronym was "STRIPES" and here's how I use it in my personal leadership philosophy:

Model the behavior you expect from your people by ensuring your stripes are always properly aligned!

S - Standards: know them, follow them, and enforce them!
T - Teamwork: critical to taking care of Airmen and achieving the mission
R - Respect: is a two-way street; give it and you will receive it.
I - Integrity and honesty: the foundation for all my actions...earns the trust of my fellow airmen
P - Professionalism: is paramount to building and maintaining successful relationships!
E - Excellence: is the rule, not the exception; 100 percent commitment in all endeavors
S - Selfless service: whom do you serve? why do you serve?

As the 425 ABG superintendent I make it a point to meet with all newly assigned enlisted airmen within 30 days of their arrival. During our meeting I share my leadership philosophy with them then ask them to hold me accountable for what I say. I ask them to hold me accountable not because I'm incapable of mirroring my beliefs, but because I want them to know I value their feedback, and I am always willing to improve myself as both a leader and a person.