Commentary

May 17, 2012

They are ALL your Airmen!

Commentary by Master Sgt. Brian Potvin
Air Force Command and Control Integration Center

Commentary by Master Sgt. Brian Potvin

Air Force Command and Control Integration Center

LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. — How many times have you heard someone say, “That senior airman’s not wearing his hat in the parking lot.” Or “That tech sergeant just ran inside because reveille is about to sound.”? I bet at some point, a comment was made similar to, “I wonder who his supervisor is?” Or maybe, “Master Sgt. Smith is his boss. I’ll let him know what I saw.”

There is an attitude prevalent in the profession of arms that we’re only responsible for the Airmen whose performance reports we write. As we earn more and more stripes on our sleeves, or have those gold or silver leaves pinned onto our uniforms, some think that gives us more privileges.

Well, in some ways, that’s true. But what we need to keep in mind as we move up through the ranks is the idea that our sphere of influence grows along with the chevrons on our sleeves. Our responsibilities really do grow exponentially with each promotion.

What we need is an attitude shift. We need our leaders to adopt the attitude of the servant leader. A servant leader is one who, according to Robert K. Greenleaf, is one who has a “natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first.” Greenleaf continues to say that the person who becomes a servant first “makes sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served.”

Additionally, the Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership has identified 10 characteristics of a successful servant leader. Those are:

Listening – Servant leaders need to develop the capability to effectively listen to their people, especially to their nonverbal communication. By employing effective listening techniques, we can be more in tune to what our people are going through or need to get the job done.

Empathy – This doesn’t mean pity. It means we must strive to understand the perspective our people are coming from. This will help us to better understand them, and will also provide for more effective motivation methods.

Healing – Obviously, this doesn’t mean healing in the medical sense. It means being well versed in conflict management techniques, and encouraging and supporting the personal development of each and every person under our charge.

Awareness – The servant leader must have a firm grasp on the overall mission of the organization, so that efforts can be more integrated into what the goals of the unit are.

Persuasion – We should not be using our power to coerce those under us to do their jobs. We will be more effective by striving to teach our people the importance of their jobs, and to teach them how their job fits into the bigger picture of the organization.

Conceptualization – Servant leaders need to be able to think beyond the task at hand. We need to be in tune with the vision of our commanding officers and be able to translate that vision into executable tasks. It is imperative that we have the vision to see how a particular task relates to winning the war, launching the plane, or providing the best force support possible.

Foresight – An effective servant leader is able to look ahead and see the results of work being done. This needs to be done to facilitate potential improvements in processes, and more importantly, to visualize potential risks that can be avoided.

Stewardship – We are the stewards of our people. The parents of our youngest Airmen have entrusted their lives to us. Imagine giving your child over to someone, blindly trusting that they will look out for your child’s best interests. We need to care for our people as if they were our own children. Yet this, by any stretch of the imagination, does not mean we treat them like children.

Commitment to the Growth of People – People are more valuable than just the work they do for us in the Air Force. They have personal, spiritual, and professional value. We need to make it our priority to do everything we can in recognize that value, cultivate, and grow it. They will be better people for it, and will work harder for you.

I challenge the notion that the only Airmen who are yours are the Airmen who work directly for you. Every time you meet someone, you have an opportunity to mentor, guide and advise. You WILL have an impact on the people you come in contact with.

That impact will either be a positive or negative one, and it is our duty as leaders to ensure we have a positive impact on as many people as possible. Senior NCOs know that we are charged with giving guidance to our commanders based on our judgment, experience and training.

What we tend to forget, however, is that the judgment, experience and training we’ve acquired through years (sometimes decades) wearing the uniform of an Airman is just as important to the Airmen underneath us as it is to our commanders. By employing some of the techniques of servant leadership, we can all be more effective leaders, and can make the Air Force an even better place than it is now.

I’ll conclude this article with a short piece of advice. Treat everyone you come across as if they are one of the Airmen whose performance report you write. I promise they’ll be happier Airmen, they’ll do a better job, and you’ll also be a better NCO or officer for it!




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Holidays!

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. — In our increasingly secular world, there is a growing misunderstanding that it is safer to say “Happy Holidays” during the Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanza season, than to name the specific holiday which you or most other people celebrate. I am always drawn to explore these interesting dilemmas. I once read a...
 
 
Richardson_pict

Down and out at Dyess: Air Force Assistance Fund to the rescue

It was scary, leaving home and joining an organization such as the United States Air Force. The people, job, and location were all brand new. When I joined the military, I came from a less than honorable home life.  I come fro...
 
 

Asking for help is sign of strength not weakness

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. — Growing up I was a big fan of Muhammad Ali. He was the world heavyweight boxing champion and unashamedly referred to himself as “The Greatest.” I vividly remember a reporter asking Ali, “When did you know that you were ‘The Greatest?’” Before Ali could answer, the reporter offered, “Perhaps it was...
 

 

“Little people like you make Christmas better”

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas — “It’s little people that make the difference. Little people like you.” The fictional character Frank Shirley pitched his “little people” Christmas message to Clark Griswold in the 1989 movie “Christmas Vacation.” Although demeaning in a comical way, the little people reference is seen over and over in classic Christmas stories. Litt...
 
 

Thanksgiving and our Native Americans

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — On the fourth Thursday of every November, we as Americans celebrate the national holiday Thanksgiving. This day focuses on honoring the early settlers, and their harvest feast, which we know to be the “First Thanksgiving.” However, long before settlers came to the United States’ East Coast, the area was inhabited by...
 
 

Keep safety in mind when cooking Thanksgiving feasts

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. — Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve, according to the National Fire Prevention Association. Cooking fires are the No. 1 cause of home fires and home fire injuries.  Every year hundreds of Americans die, thousands more are injured and roughly $500 million...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin