Thursday, July 12, 2012

Who are we?

Story by Chief Warrant Officer 2 Barry Long
J-9 Joint and Family Services Directorate
Georgia Department of Defense

Who are we?

This is a question we seldom ask of ourselves, either as organizations or as individuals. In fact, it is very unlikely that we observe reality when we ask this about ourselves. It is an impartial lens we need so that we may view others without bias, and an impartial mirror we need so that we can truly see our own faults. We can take this question from the highest echelons to the lowest, or look up from the bottom.

We struggle constantly to defeat the self-aggrandizing assessments of ourselves or our organizations, and we struggle to defeat the tendency to measure others by our perceptions of good, bad, right and wrong, instead of viewing the world from the perspectives of our units, commands, staffs, etc.  Leaders often shed only the best light on their organizations in order to avoid media issues, and view personnel who do not meet their individualized ideals as disposable.  

So, how do we judge our people and our organization through a lens that is clear of our own personal motivations, and how do we clean up the mess while maintaining a “good face” to the public?

We begin by teaching leaders at the lowest level how to assess their people by the true ethical, moral values and mission-driven standards proposed by our organization, and not by personal biases. Then we teach leaders at the top what it is like to be at the lowest levels of our organization by placing them in close contact with members of those lowest groups without biasing their view. It is important not to place them in contact with special selectees, or “planted” personnel.

We must have the fortitude to open our organization to our leadership, and the high level leaders must have the fortitude to:

1. Avoid snap judgments about any group.
2. Train with the troops at the lowest level, and not just observe.
3. Avoid possible plants and place themselves at close proximity with every Soldier.
4. Enforce the principle of forbidding leaders to take out any repercussions on any level of Soldier or leader who points out our organizations’ faults, and never allowing leaders to restrict the speech/actions of their troops in the view of higher leadership. We want personnel to feel free to speak. If we do our jobs as leaders, we have nothing to fear.
5. Evaluate faults fairly, and reward successes heavily.

Who are we? As the Georgia National Guard, we are a portion of the greatest Armed Forces in the entire world. As the Ga. Department of Defense, we are a part of the Ga. State Government and we support the defense of Georgia and the Ga. Government efforts to protect our population against hostile environments, storms, terrorist attacks, etc.

We have several sets of overlapping creeds, ethos and sets of values, each of which places us under a binding of honor, integrity, courage and service to others.
We have a history which dates back over 375 years to the creation of militia units to defend the colonies (principally, the first militia unit organized in the Massachusetts Bay Colony). The Army Guard also dates history in line with the Army’s age of 237 years, while the Air Guard also claims history from the Air Force (Aeronautical Division, US Signal Corps, 1907) at 105 years. Our history is very rich and developed, and we rarely teach it fully to our members.

We are not a broken organization. We are an organization with an incredible history, and a family with awesome diversity and a devout following of heroes.

Keep and renew the faith in our Georgia National Guard. Teach your Soldiers our history. Invite your leadership to train with you. Look closely at the creed, values, ethos, and most importantly, the honor of our organization, and learn to live by the definitions of these, not your own perceptions. Renew your faith in family, team, state, and country. Never forget the countless generations of members, leaders, and heroes who got you here, and their diversity of size, shape, color, and talent.

Don’t disregard those who are not like you, as they were made that way and they make our family and organization better for it. Diversity, in every way, improves us. The one who isn’t like you may have the answers you would never divine from a circumstance, and will certainly have skills you will never attain. Use these tools and our rich history to improve the Guard, your unit, and yourself.

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