by Chief Master Sgt. David J. Martin
Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe/Air Forces Africa
2/28/2013 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- Recently,
I had the distinct pleasure of being on the Headquarters U.S. Air
Forces in Europe/Air Forces Africa Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the
One of the questions asked by a board member was, "If you were in my
seat and had to ask the nominees one question, what would you ask and
why?" One senior NCO replied, "I would ask each nominee, 'What are you
doing to develop your Airmen, junior NCOs and officers?'" The senior NCO
continued, "I think we have failed as a senior NCO corps to take every
opportunity to look in the eyes of our fellow Airmen and ask them how
they are doing and what we can do to help develop them."
What courage! I agree with the sentiment and I would like to make a call
to leadership because of it. I challenge every Airman and civilian to
be the leader their Airmen deserve. A great place to start is with
Imagine the amount of courage it took for that master sergeant to look
at four major command chief master sergeants and say, "Chiefs, you need
to be chiefs."
That very statement made me conduct a self evaluation of my performance
as a leader/servant. I had to ask myself several difficult questions: Do
I know the people I work with? Do I know the names of their spouses and
how many children they have? Do I know what they hope to gain from this
assignment and what they want to give to this assignment and the Air
Force? Have I given them every opportunity to excel or do I accept
mediocrity as their norm? Am I willing to throw it all on the line when
they tried their best and came up short? Am I willing to jump in front
of the onslaught before it gets to my co-workers? Do I have a mantra
that goes something like this, "All the success we enjoy in our shop is
because of the hard work my co-workers do and all the failure is because
of my poor management skill?"
This is not a call for perfection, but it is a call for leadership that
looks beyond everyone's imperfections and works to improve everyone.
Leadership doesn't start when you become a chief master sergeant,
colonel or SES, and it doesn't stop because you promote to these higher
grades. Leadership starts right now, where you are, regardless of your
grade or position.
You can start to answer this call to leadership by conducting your own
self evaluation. After that, do the performance feedback you owe your
personnel, lead your unit in physical fitness by exercising regularly,
sit in with a few co-workers as they process conflict resolution, care
to champion an idea someone has to affect positive change, and so on.
Have the courage to ask the people you work with how they are doing and
have the courage to listen to them.
Finally, strive from this point forward to be a leader and servant!