October 01, 2011

Developing Leaders: A Tapestry for Success

Colonel Sharon A. Shaffer

Across the service, we represent a broad range of diverse missions, family situations, ethnicities, faiths, races and educational backgrounds. Yet, together, this rich tapestry forms the world’s finest Air Force, drawn from the best talent that America has to offer.

—Michael B. Donley, Secretary of the Air Force

I recently learned a valuable lesson in leadership. My team and I were working on an important office project when I realized I needed to augment the group with another member. As I sifted through the candidates, my natural tendencies had me leaning toward (and selecting) an officer who had a great performance record and who volunteered for every project in sight. There was another great candidate, however. She too had a great performance record, but she was not a particularly expressive or outgoing person. It wasn’t until later as I reflected upon my decision I realized that I missed an opportunity that day in my responsibilities as a leader. The officer I didn’t choose would probably have performed just as well as the officer I did select. In fact, I thought to myself, she probably has similar goals, like the officer I selected, to progress and ultimately become a leader in The Judge Advocate General’s Corps. Perhaps all she needed was someone to draw her out of her shell, take a chance on her, and give her the opportunity to succeed.

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