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.


 
 

 

Planning for your future equals success

“If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it.” ~ William Arthur Ward Success does not happen accidentally, it takes detailed planning and a vision of the future. I remember the day before I left for basic military training, I tried to imagine what my future...
 
 

Tuition assistance — a great benefit

In my opinion, tuition assistance is one of the best benefits that we as active-duty military members have available. During my 17 years in the Air Force, I have seen this benefit increase from 75 percent of tuition being paid to 100 percent. Additionally, most of us experienced this benefit being eliminated for a short...
 
 

Chaplain’s thoughts …

Last week I quoted Dr. Billy Graham who said, “Man has two great spiritual needs. One is for forgiveness. The other is for goodness.” We saw the necessity of forgiveness in all relationships, including personal and divine. Forgiveness allows our relationships to flourish, while a refusal to forgive brings toxicity. The second part of Dr....
 

 

Fly Over: ‘Divergent’ and ‘NO Excuses’

On Netflix ‘Divergent’ After a devastating war that is believed to have destroyed most of the world, a sole colony has survived and thrived, safe-guarded by a giant wall encircling the city. The founders of the city created five factions in which to divide the population based on aptitude scores which determine the faction best...
 
 
History_56-FG-Eggebek-Raid-Flyers

This week in history

April 13, 1945: Raid on Eggebek Seventy years ago this week, the war in Europe was winding down. Late afternoon April 12, 1945, in Warm Springs, Georgia, President Franklin Roosevelt died. At Royal Air Force Boxted in England, ...
 
 

308th FS rich history, poignant ending

After 21 years of continuous service as an F-16 Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force Base, the 308th Fighter Squadron, recently recognized the 2014 Top Fighter Squadron in the 56th Operations Group, will close its doors this summer. Given this sad fact, it is only appropriate that this week’s Thunderbolt commentary focus on this highly...
 




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