Commentary

August 8, 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. – 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.


 
 

 

News Briefs April 17, 2015

STEM Expo The Antelope Valley Union High School District needs volunteers to serve as judges for the first Annual STEM Expo 5:30 p.m., April 27 at Eastside High School. Students will be evaluated in seven categories: Environmental/Agricultural Innovation, Invention, Reverse Engineering, Robotics and Computer Science, Rube Goldberg, Science Fiction, and Science Inquiry. Eastside High School...
 
 

Sexual assault survivor: One Airman’s story

- By a Survivor WASHINGTON — Sexual assault is a hot topic — one addressed in annual training and at commander’s calls throughout the Air Force — yet the details of victims’ stories are seldom mentioned. This is understandable. These crimes against service members are intensely personal. Also, as many survivors have learned, listeners don’t...
 
 
cmsaf

Q&A with the CMSAF

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody and his wife, retired Chief Master Sgt. Athena Cody, visited Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, from March 31 to April 2. During his visit, Cody met with Airmen to discuss morale, w...
 

 
U.S. Air Force photo by Michael J. Pausic

CSAF discusses Air Force’s need to reset

U.S. Air Force photo by Michael J. Pausic Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh III addresses the audience during his speech at the Air Force Association’s monthly Breakfast Series in Arlington, Va., April 2. The Air Force...
 
 
Air Force photograph by Rebecca Amber

Command chief shares secrets to success for enlisted

Air Force photograph by Rebecca Amber Chief Master Sgt. David Smith, 412th Test Wing command chief hosted a mandatory enlisted all-call at the base theater April 13. Chief Master Sgt. David Smith, 412th Test Wing command chief ...
 
 
DoD
Air Force photograph by Senior Airman Thomas Spangler

F-35 program ‘on right track,’ director says

Air Force photograph by Senior Airman Thomas Spangler An F-35A Lightning II assigned to the 61st Fighter Squadron, Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., taxis to the runway for a training exercise at Nellis AFB, Nev., April 15, 2015. Mai...
 




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>