Dignity & Respect
By Mr. Al Strait, Wing Staff Agencies, 21st Space Wing
/ Published February 27, 2018
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colorado -- Ask anyone in the workplace what treatment they want most from their employer and coworkers and they will undoubtedly say they have a desire to be treated with dignity and respect. This is why one of Col. Todd Moore, 21st Space Wing commander’s priorities is “promoting a culture of dignity and respect”.
Some may think priorities are just another pretty list of words to fill space on a wall, but they’re much more than a list. There are so many aspects to promoting a culture of dignity and respect it can be mind boggling. Dignity and respect apply to being a leader, mentor, neighbor, boss, employee or simply a good person.
Admittedly, treating others with dignity and respect can be easier said than done, especially when you’re operating in stressful environments and under short suspense’s, etc. Nevertheless, this is our standard and we must strive to treat each other with the utmost of respect and dignity.
In respect to being a leader, there are many styles of leadership – transformational, servant, autocratic, laissez-faire, democratic bureaucratic, charismatic, situational and the list goes on. As a leader you may move back and forth with a leadership style based on the situation you are facing. Each leadership style has its pros and cons and some styles are a better fit for each leaders’ personality and organization.
Regardless of your leadership style, we owe it to our employees to show them the proper respect and dignity. My father taught me a long time ago – treat people how you want to be treated. As a leader I have made mistakes in a host of leadership situations which included both delivering a message and how I received the message. Did I have to make some midcourse corrections? Absolutely. Was it easy to make those midcourse corrections? Not really, as I had to change my approach, but by changing it was a win-win for everyone.
If we review our job descriptions we will not find a requirement to be disrespectful, belittling, demeaning, rude, or to put it in simple words, “be a butt head” to your team members. This creates a toxic work environment that no one wants to be a part of. I encourage anyone who is in this type of work environment to raise the issue to their supervisor. If your supervisor is the issue then let them know in a professional manner you are going to the next level of supervision. You may be thinking okay, if I do that my immediate supervisor may retaliate and take this out on me. This is reprisal and that is why we have First Sergeants, the Wing Inspector General, open door time with many of the commanders and other venues for your voice to be heard. We have numerous outlets for us to be heard. If you feel like you have tried these venues and nothing works – try again. Sometimes change is difficult, but keep after it.
Just as a leader is responsible to show respect and dignity, employees also have that responsibility. In some situations we may have a supervisor with a conflicting leadership style. However, we still have a responsibility to be supportive, show respect and work towards mission success.
The way we communicate with one another can go a long way to ensure we promote a culture of dignity and respect. In order to avoid needless, insensitive, and unmeant disrespect, both the sender and receiver of the conversation need to consider the experience, attitudes, skills or perceptions of those individual they are engaging. Both parties should ask themselves, are we attentive, are we open to the message or do we have preconceived notions that prevent us from receiving or delivering the true meaning of the message. For good communication to take place both the sender and receiver must open up to each other and work for the success of the mission.
In closing, showing respect and dignity should not be that hard. It is common sense and we should each challenge ourselves to do a self-assessment on how we treat all people, from our family members to our coworkers and bosses. If the self-assessment suggests some changes are required, then let’s take charge and make the change. Maybe it is as simple as a license plate I see on base which simply says, “BPOLITE.”