Commentary

August 7, 2014

Understanding sergeant’s words: ‘I’ve got your back’

Chief Master Sgt. Patricia Yelverton
60th Medical Support Squadron superintendent

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFNS) — Seeing the newly selected staff sergeants recently brought back memories of when I was selected for staff sergeant.

Actually, my thoughts went to the night I graduated Airman Leadership School. As I crossed the stage after receiving my completion certificate, my co-workers gathered to congratulate me and shake my hand. My supervisor, Staff Sgt. Todd Mitchell, stayed back at the table and as I approached he shook my hand and said, “I’ve got your back.”

I said, “Thank you,” as I sat down.

While cheering on my fellow graduates, I started thinking of what my supervisor said to me. What did he mean? I expected “Congratulations” or “You did awesome,” but not “I’ve got your back.”

The next morning at work, I immediately asked my supervisor if we could talk.

I asked him, “What did you mean last night when you said, ‘I’ve got your back?’” His response was surprising and informative.

“Everyone has a specific role in our section,” he said. “Before yesterday, your role was to master skills required as an Airman and a Health Service Management Apprentice. Today, your role changes to a frontline supervisor which includes responsibility for others. My duties also changed today, I am now your first line of defense, meaning I’ve got your back.”

He explained, as tasks flow down from above, I will always keep you informed and prepared to complete the mission. Also, leadership will always be aware of what you and your Airmen are working on and what requirements are being met and exceeded. Most importantly, you will make many decisions affecting personnel on a personal level as well as a professional level. Your Airmen will not always agree with you and they will come to me.

“When this happens, I want you to know, I’ve got your back,” he continued. “I will never question your decisions in front of subordinates and will never ask you to change your mind on a decision as long as it upholds the values of the Air Force. I have to make sure your subordinates understand you are the leader and will make the decisions.”

That single conversation made me a better supervisor and leader. Throughout my entire career those words have been engraved in my mind. Mitchell was right that night. I didn’t need the usual congrats, good job or well done on my graduation night. I needed to be reminded what my next step in my career was and what responsibilities lie ahead as an NCO. His words gave me the confidence in my abilities to be not only the NCO I was back then, but also the chief master sergeant and leader I am today.

I have stayed in touch with now retired Master Sgt. Mitchell, for advice and mentoring. We still talk about that conversation and how he knew exactly what I needed to hear that day. He reminded me as I, in turn, remind you, “Those we lead need to know they have leaders who will stand behind them through the good and the bad.”

Today, I challenge all of you to let your subordinates know you have their back.




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


 
 

 
(U.S. Air Force Illustration by Airman 1st Class Cheyenne Morigeau)

Don’t become a target

Considering recent threats against Americans and the exponential growth of social media use, becoming a target of an adversary is easier than ever. Operations Security is a process that identifies unclassified, critical informa...
 
 
BreastCancerAwareness_pict

An Airman’s story: My mother didn’t fight alone

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. – His green eyes frantically searched the crowd for his dying mother. During his final pass and review at basic military training (BMT) he saw her in the stands, cheering him on. A year later, ...
 
 

Fire Prevention Week 2014

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Chris Drzazgowski) Sparky the Fire Dog, National Fire Protection Association spokesdog, and members from the 355th Fire Emergency Services flight taught children from the Child Development Center how to stop, drop and roll at Davis-Monthan, Oct. 8. The 355th FES conducted several events in conjunction with Fire...
 

 

Troops to Teachers helps Airmen serve after separation

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. – For many service members who are separating from the military, finding employment that utilizes prior training or skills gained while serving can be difficult. For Airmen who are honorably discharged from their military commitment and have an interest in ‘serving’ again as an educational instructor, the Troops to Teachers program is...
 
 

Military Tuition Assistance Program implements changes for FY15

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. – Air Force active duty Airmen who want to take advantage of the military assistance programs for voluntary education in the coming academic year can expect several changes that were implemented on Oct. 1, 2014. The new Air Force Credentialing Opportunities Online, also referred to as AF COOL, will take the place...
 




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