Recently, I was asked the difference between a good NCO and a great NCO. Well, I answered the question as best I could, but failed to mention “standards.”
You see, a good NCO sets his sights on just meeting standards, while a great NCO is continually trying to exceed standards and motivates his Airmen to do the same.
Webster’s Dictionary defines the word “standard” as something established by authority, custom or general consent as a model or example. It also defines it as a measure of quantity, weight, extent, value or quality.
Do you prepare for your PT test not knowing what it will take to pass? Do you perform an operational check on a jet without knowing the technical order pass-fail limits? Do you get a tattoo not knowing what is acceptable per Air Force Instruction 36-2903, “Dress and Personal Appearance of Air Force Personnel”?
Recently, the Air Force published Air Force Instruction 1-1, “Air Force Standards.” It took guidance from different sources and put it into one instruction that we can all easily refer to. This instruction covers standards that have been around for decades and added new standards that deal with issues that face our Airmen today such as social media, the wingman concept, resiliency, etc. It also serves as a great tool during official feedback sessions.
Now why is this important? As a custom or example, Airmen need to reflect a professional image that encompasses proper dress and behavior. If you need a haircut or your uniform needs attention, take the necessary time to make sure you represent your unit and the Air Force in the right manner.
Demonstrate proper customs and courtesies by standing up when a senior member visits your work center; respond to him or her by saying Sir, Ma’am, Chief or Sergeant. As a measure of quantity or quality, when you perform your daily duties, you need to know the requirements of that task and try to get it done in a timely, cost effective and quality manner to assure we exceed the minimums of what is being asked of us. Bottom line, have pride in oneself and in your workmanship.
How will you know if you are meeting and exceeding standards? Through timely and proper feedback and encouragement from your supervisors so you clearly understand what is expected of you. Also, demanding perfection from yourself so you can assure you will exceed the standard every time.
I’ve heard from time to time what we allow in our presence becomes the standard. As supervisors we cannot make excuses for our Airmen and allow them to ignore our Air Force core values. We would be doing them a disservice and putting their careers in jeopardy.
So know, abide and exceed the standard for yourselves and your Airmen so the next time someone thanks you for your service, you will walk away sharing the same pride they have for you!