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 photo by Airmen 1st Class Cheyenne Morigeau)

Davis-Monthan Airman helps Tucsonan

One weather forecaster’s self-aid buddy care training quickly resurfaced when she witnessed a car accident outside the gates of Davis-Monthan. Senior Airman Amanda Boone, 355th Operations Support Squadron weather forecaster, ...
 
 

U.S. Air Force to kick off COOL program

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. (AFNS) — The Community College of the Air Force officially launched the Air Force Credentialing Opportunities On-Line program March 16. Air Force COOL is a pathway for enlisted Airmen to earn industry recognized professional certifications and licenses to enhance their active-duty work and to prepare them as they transition to...
 
 

Military leads the way in equal opportunity

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. — What does it take to change a nation? What force has the power to move millions of people in their fundamental views of the world? For Christopher Daniels, a U.S. Air Force colonel, that answer is simple: leadership. In his words, “The true agent of change is true leadership.”...
 

 

Doolittle Tokyo Raiders to receive Congressional Gold Medal

(U.S. Air Force photo) On April 18, 1942, Airmen of the U.S. Army Air Forces, led by Lt. Col. James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle, carried the Battle of the Pacific to the heart of the Japanese empire with a surprising and daring raid on military targets at Tokyo, Yokohama, Yokosuka, Nagoya, and Kobe. This heroic attack...
 
 

AFAF gives all Airmen a chance to pay it forward

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — It’s Sept. 12, 2005. Senior Airman Dennis Hutchison is recovering from a hard day’s work on the flightline of Robbins Air Force Base, Georgia, when he receives a call that tragedy had struck. “I got a notification from my family that my father had passed away,” Hutchison said. “I immediately contacted...
 
 

Rocketry Club ready to take flight this weekend

TUCSON, Arizona – On March 28 and 29, hundreds of rockets will soar into the Tucson sky at Desert Heat 2015. Rocket enthusiasts from around the Southwest will gather for this annual two-day rocketry event, where there’s no cost to watch, and kids always fly free. The rockets that will be launched vary in size...
 




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