Developing, maintaining a sustained culture of excellence

  • Published
  • By Col. John Taylor
  • 39th Maintenance Group commander
We all want to be a part of a great unit but what is it that sets a great unit apart from a good unit? In my experience, morale is better. 

People get a lot more job satisfaction and enjoy participating in unit activities. Team members are more productive. Those privileged to be part of a great organization will tell you it's not easy or commonplace. 

It takes a lot for a unit or workcenter to rise to the "great" level and it's hard to stay there. What traits help a unit to rise to that level? There are many, but I believe the most important trait you see in great units is trust - trust at all levels. 

First, the people in the unit need to trust in their supervision and leadership and know they are doing what's best for the organization and the people. Without this, there is no way for a unit to succeed. This trust goes both ways - the leadership also needs to trust and empower their people to get the mission done and to do the right thing. 

Lt. Col. Kenneth Speidel, 39th Maintenance Squadron, recently wrote an article describing how he entrusted his people to come up with a new traveling fitness trophy, and the results so greatly exceeded his expectations that Airman Ironman has now become the beloved 39th Maintenance Squadron mascot. What a great testament to trusting and empowering your people! 

People in great units also have trust in their co-workers. They trust that they'll support one another in their day-to-day tasks, sharing information and helping out where needed. Many organizations are already minimally manned, and when someone is deployed or away for a length of time great units always rally and are able to get the mission done. 

People in great units are great wingmen, on and off duty. Of particular importance in industrial areas, they trust their co-workers are properly following technical order procedures and Air Force Instructions guidance. Our wing's outstanding safety record demonstrates that trust and reflects our use of operational risk management procedures to safely get the job done. 

Finally, people in great units trust themselves. They know they have been given the right tools and training to succeed, and if they need support they know where to go to find it. They follow the "Culture of Responsible Choices" tenants, making sure they stay within their limits on and off duty and encourage others to do the same. 

I have no doubt the 39th Air Base Wing is a great unit! We have been tested hard over the past year, and the tempo has not slowed down. But through it all we have stuck together as a team and have been incredibly successful in every challenge. 

I firmly believe we have been able to develop and maintain a sustained culture of excellence. It is hard to do! It is a testament to the dedication we each have to our mission, our organization and to each other. It is a testament to the trust between the members of our great team, who without a doubt are our greatest asset. It is a testament to you!