[March 9, 2019] All great leaders in human history have lived by a set of principles that focused their efforts and pushed them beyond what any normal person would go. Their principles will use different words but what they mean is the same thing; leadership in action. It should then come as no surprise that the famous U.S. Army Tuskegee airmen of World War II had their own as well.
The Tuskegee airmen lived by six guiding principles. The U.S. Department of Defense provided an interview with one of these airmen. In it, airman Frank Macon shared his memories and briefly talks about these principles. It is worth listening to in full (see link, 3:35 minute video).
Here are the six principles the Red Tails lived by:
- Aim High
- Believe in yourself
- Use your brain
- Be ready to go
- Never Quit
- Expect to win
Those of us who study leadership will immediately recognize these as a common theme of this blog and consistent with leadership literature. Getting a leader to discuss their own philosophy of leadership may not be easy but they will always discuss these same ideas that the Tuskegee airmen used. Why? Simple, because these principles work.
Several years ago, I had the honor of being at a Tuskegee Airman Chapter meeting at McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey.1 I sat at a table with three of these retired airmen and listened to them explain the difficulties of war and their exploits on the ground with beautiful women. Nothing that they told me involved hardship because of prejudice or discrimination.
Their positive attitude was remarkable because in American society today it is expected that a person identifies with some victim group. To use their own words, these men were not victims, they were warriors. And they were warriors from the strongest nation on Earth. They were proud of it.