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The Rhetoric and Reality of Command: A Leadership Analysis

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Air War College Air University Maxwell AFB United States

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The prevailing perception of squadron command tends to highlight the classical view of the commanders role as a leader. When people envision the day theyll take command, their thoughts often drift to how they will implement their vision, inspiring their people to successfully accomplish the mission. This timeless picture of the commander as the heroic leader is continually reinforced through an endless collection of leadership literature. Air Force Doctrine Document AFDD 1-1, Leadership and Force Development drives the commanders focus by identifying mission and people as the fundamental elements of leadership The leaders primary responsibility is to motivate and direct people to carry out the units mission successfully.2 While almost no one would argue against these ideals of leadership, another aspect of command is often ignored. In executing these responsibilities there is a significant administrative burden with which the commander must contend. Much is due to the myriad of commanders programs and stovepipe functional initiatives that continually add to the commanders plate. While all organizations need administrative processes, it seems intuitive there is an impact on the commanders ability to serve as a leader.

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