As a senior NCO, I often wonder if we are grooming our Airmen for success. Are we grooming NCOs to be responsible, to take seriously our core values, embrace them as we should so they become the future senior NCOs we need them to be? Are we grooming our Airmen to know that sometimes the right thing isn’t always the easy thing and molding them to be the NCOs we need them to be?
Are we requiring and allowing our NCOs to mentor our Airmen as well. The same question could be posed of the officer corps. Sometimes I wonder, are we collectively focusing on just trying to make that next rank and not thinking of the Air Force needs first?
I say every one of us, as Airmen, might want to take a step back and ask ourselves, if I never teach that junior person how to do the things I do, how am I helping them grow? If I never bring them in on the decision making process and help them understand why we are taking the route we are, will they know what to do when I am gone? I say this not only from a first sergeant’s perspective but from a supervisory viewpoint.
One of my fondest memories from Airman Leadership School is a quote from one of the instructors. He said, “If you are indispensable, then you as a future NCO aren’t doing your job right.” I took that to heart, and when I was finally blessed with the responsibility of caring for my entire flight I took that very seriously. I made sure my NCOs knew their jobs, and once they were ready for new information, I showed them the things I did. Now at that level, did they need to know that? Not necessarily but did I prepare them for the next step in their careers so it wasn’t quite so scary and they understood why it was being done? Yes, absolutely and I say that with no hesitation.
I realized I was somehow on the right track when one day I was hurt, and I couldn’t go into work. I didn’t for a minute worry about that shop because I knew my NCOs were not only capable but were highly trained to do the job without me. They managed the Airmen, provided effective leadership and held them accountable when necessary.
Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a worrier, so for me to feel that way was really great. The Air Force will and must carry on without each of us at some point. If we aren’t teaching our junior ranking members our jobs then we aren’t doing our ultimate job, which is to groom leaders. If you aren’t doing these things currently, I encourage you to start and keep it up. The Air Force and our country need it.