Commentary

May 11, 2012

The enlisted perspective: Now is the time for bold leadership

by James A. Roy
Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force

A week ago, I sent an email message titled Leadership vs. Policy to Command Chiefs and Career Field Managers. You may have seen that message, or parts of it, but I’d like to take this opportunity to address it with you directly.

The theme of the message was that too much arbitrary guidance could prove to be counterproductive. As supervisors, the more leverage we have to deal with situations on a case-by-case basis, the better.

Junior Enlisted Airmen. Young Airmen are our most precious resource. We spend millions of dollars recruiting, training and equipping them to execute the tactical parts of the mission, and they never let us down.

We owe Junior Enlisted Airmen the proper training, education and experiences it takes to develop them into leaders in their field. We owe it to them to explain what is expected of them, and to follow up with how they are meeting our expectations. We owe them the mentorship and guidance they need to succeed, and they should be expected to do everything they can to meet the high standard set by the supervisor.

NCOs. What our Junior Enlisted Airmen learn about leadership and mentorship will shape how they eventually supervise. Therefore, first-line supervisors have an incredible responsibility. NCOs should set young Airmen up for success by outlining specifically how to earn their highest rating. Following that, mentoring and additional feedback should address specific shortfalls and how to overcome them.

We are growing leaders, not judging Airmen on their ability to get it right on their own. As a supervisor, you should do all you can to help your Airmen succeed. When used properly, the formal feedback process is a good foundation for making this happen.

Senior NCOs. Our most senior enlisted Airmen have a tremendous amount of impact on this process. SNCOs should hold their NCOs and Senior Airmen accountable for conducting required feedback sessions, and support their fair ratings. SNCOs should understand that a “4” is not a bad rating, and that some Airmen will earn that rating in a given period. Rating an Airman fairly will not hurt their career; it should help them grow.

Commanders. In addition to the email message I sent to Chiefs, I sent a similar message to major command commanders, asking them to pass it down to their commanders. Because most of our reports are signed by a commander, I felt it was important they understand where we’re coming from. Commanders are the key and final component of this process, and their support for fair and accurate ratings is critical.

Bold Leadership. Some have suggested we set some arbitrary quota for the number of “5” ratings allowed in a given shop. They claim that would make things easier.

I’m not interested in doing what’s easy; I’m interested in doing what’s right. Implementing a quota would strip first-line supervisors of the leverage they need to grow tomorrow’s enlisted leaders.

We don’t need quotas. Instead, we need bold leaders to set high standards and help Airmen achieve them. We need bold leaders to confront those Airmen who don’t meet standards and document that feedback. We need those bold leaders to rate each individual fairly and accurately, and that isn’t easy. They will need the support of SNCOs and commanders to make it work.

It takes bold leadership on everyone’s part to develop Airmen.

Now is the time to do everything you can at your level to make this happen.




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


 
 

 

Gratitude cultivates exceptional leadership

Several months ago I was inspired by the phrase “cultivate an attitude of gratitude.” The topic was presented in a religious context; however, I found these words significant and profound when considered as a tenent of exceptional leadership. Cultivate is an action verb. The word brings to mind images of an experienced gardener patiently tending...
 
 

Leadership vs. management

Have you ever had a boss or someone that made you want to come to work every day, someone you would do anything for without question? Then you were probably working beside a leader, not a manager. The biggest difference between managers and leaders is the way they motivate people who work for or follow...
 
 

Short-term loan interest rates too high

To those considering a payday loan or title loan, listen up. A short-term loan should be a last resort because the interest rates are extremely high. If it is an emergency, there are grants and interest-free loans to eligible Airmen and their family members through the Air Force Aid Society. Contact the Luke Air Force...
 

 

Chaplain’s Thoughts

What’s your net worth? That’s a very American question, a very western question. It conveys the idea that one’s value is determined by the bottom line. We play a silly game in our culture that goes like this. We ask the question, “What would we be worth if we cashed it all out, sold the...
 
 
restaurant-window-photo

Fly Over: ‘Republic Ramen + Noodles’ and ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1′

Dining out: ‘Republic Ramen + Noodles’ One of my past editors once told me a good writer worth his salt can write a story about a ham sandwich and people will want to read it. So my question is: how does one write a...
 
 

Standards of conduct guided by integrity

When it comes to conducting business with the federal government, there is an implicit amount of trust that contracting professionals must preserve. Transactions relating to the expenditure of public funds require the highest degree of public trust and an impeccable standard of conduct. Contracting professionals are not the only ones who are involved in the...
 




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