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Tough But Fair…

By Chief Master Sgt. Russell Thomas 2nd Medical Group superintendent

What does it mean to be tough but fair, and why is this so important? Tough, but fair means to uphold and enforce standards without being biased.

Allow me to illustrate my point. I had to repeat the first grade because I missed too many school days playing hooky. My mother was very upset and used some tactics on me that the Special Forces are still using today; let's just say she "spanked" me. I laugh at this now, but back then I didn't see the humor in this.

She was tough on me, very tough. My mother told me that I better not ever fail at anything else in my life.

She could have allowed the teacher to promote me to the second grade, instead she held me accountable for my actions. She could have blamed the teacher or the school system for my failure, but she didn't. She placed 100 percent of the blame on me. Letting me off the hook, could have set me up for failure in the future.

She made sure I repeated the first grade and was absolutely unbiased. She didn't think it was fair for me to go to the second grade when I didn't meet the standard.

This valuable lesson my mother taught me was to pursue excellence. She was tough but fair and this is why I'm a Chief Master Sgt. in the Air Force today.

Like our parents, commanders, first sergeants and supervisors are tough on us because they want us to be the absolute best we can be. They also know that fairness is the counter-balance to toughness.

When something is easy, we often do not apply ourselves, but when something is tough, we deliver outstanding results.

Toughness also improves morale by inspiring you to be a better performer which leads to accolades, awards and even promotions. Knowing your personnel will be your gauge of how and when to be tough. Just remember to be fair.

Fairness is even more motivating. When you know the playing field is even and rewards are given on merit instead of favoritism, you are more likely to work and compete harder when you know the standards and have a fair chance to maximize your potential.

Morale is directly proportional to productivity. Low morale equals low productivity, therefore working on maintaining high morale by enforcing standards will lead to increased productivity.

The most critical aspect of our character is having integrity and the moral courage to do the right things all the time, which is what tough but fair is all about.