When a Leader’s Job is Done

When a leader’s job is done, her time is up, and she moves on – the job is only done if the followers she’s developed and cared for are better off because she was there. Far too often leaders concern themselves with the next promotion or self-preservation and forget it is their sole responsibility to ready their replacements. I knew back when I led my high school track & cross country teams, it was my duty to train the younger runners so they could carry the baton after I graduated. I carried this mindset with me during my 20 years as an Air Force leader. Every endeavor I pursued was to teach others how to be better, do better and know better – how to be a servant leader who deliberately developed their fellow Airmen.

Today I offered to help a new Airmen from my squadron who was lost on base. When I asked her if we had met before, she smiled and said we had not met, but she heard I was a kind leader who taught a lot of great things. She followed up with how excited she was to learn those things from her supervisor. That’s the ultimate compliment – to know my Airmen we’re taking what I taught them and sharing the lessons with new Defenders! They are passing the baton!

I am so proud of the Security Forces Airmen I have been blessed to lead these past three years. They’ve taught me so much about what drives and motivates them. We’ve faced challenges together head on, I have put my stripes to use for what is right, made tough calls, made house calls, I have coached them, guided them, sat with them, treated them with dignity and most importantly believed in them and all they can achieve. Today I am confident they will continue take up the baton and lead with dignity, purpose, kindness and humility. They will protect the force day in and day out – they are already training their replacements and making this retiring Operations Superintendent proud to have been a tiny part of their leadership journey. My job here is done on Active Duty in a few short weeks and I will miss seeing and mentoring them every day, but I’m fully confident in their readiness to take on challenges, lead well, and train their replacements. One day when their job is done may they reflect on the journey that led them and appreciate all those they led and cared for.

Love & Leadership,

Erin

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