I recently graduated from the NCO Academy at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. During the seven-week course we were given helpful tools meant to guide us on the path to becoming unit managers and senior NCOs. The course focused on topics from the profession of arms and team building concepts, to resource stewardship and negotiating. However, the overall objective was to set us up to become future leaders in the Air Force.
Did you know all Airmen are uniquely positioned to make a positive impact as a leader? Whether a master sergeant with 22 years of service, or a senior airman still in the first term of service, each of us can be an effective leader. Obviously, higher ranks bring more responsibility and more opportunities to lead.
Our class motto at the academy was “Lead from the Front,” and there are several ways to display leadership. You can be active in your unit’s booster club or one of the base organizations. Organizations like Focus 56 and Air Force Sergeant’s Association can provide plenty of opportunities to lead. They also present opportunities for personal and professional growth and numerous networking opportunities. One thing I’ve learned as I’ve progressed throughout my career is to never underestimate the power of networking.
You can choose to be a leader today. I’m sure that if every Airman on Luke AFB was polled and asked what traits they would use to define a leader, we would hear many of the same words and phrases used. We’d hear descriptive terms like trustworthy, reliable, honest, physically and morally courageous, and credible; just to name a few, because these traits are what make others want to follow.
Young Airmen can lead by doing their work to the best of their abilities, being good wingmen to friends, taking classes, volunteering in the community and more. NCOs go a step further by setting a positive example for subordinates and holding them to the standard.
Practice what you preach, and hold yourself to an even higher standard than you set for your Airmen. This means seeking off-duty education as well, volunteering and being a leader in the community, and being involved in base organizations.
NCOs must be willing to do the same things they ask of their Airmen. A good rule of thumb is if it’s something you would not do yourself, it’s probably not something you should ask your Airmen to do. Sometimes this means getting a little sweaty right alongside them.
And last, but not least, you must stand up for what you believe is right at all times. This makes you credible and makes others want to follow you. Therefore, my challenge to every Airman on Luke is, when presented the opportunity, rise up and “Lead from the front.”