As a first sergeant I’ve learned some valuable lessons from my commanders. One of them is to focus my efforts on the things I can control and to plan ahead taking into consideration the effects of those actions.
This is a pretty simple advice to apply. Maximize the amount of effort you exert at work. Do your best and prepare ahead of time. Always be honest because your integrity is valuable in so many ways.
Be polite and don’t forget to say thank you often. Cut back on money spent on luxuries. Empathize with all sides of a situation before taking action. Slow down and take notice of the small acts of kindness all around you. We are all leaders and have a direct impact on those around us, so look for the positive side and smile often. Make fitness a habit not a chore, and control the quantity and quality of what goes on your plate. We all have weaknesses, so find new ways to make you better. The need for personal and professional development never stops.
As the Air Force draws down, the competition for advancement is going to increase. As supervisors it is our responsibility to develop our replacements and take care of our Airmen in the process while leading by example. This does not just happen, it is a conscious choice.
Just like how developmental special duties help develop the potential and professional growth of our top performers, front line supervisors at all levels must continue to develop their folks, from the youngest Airman to the oldest.
Our Airmen’s goals are just as important as our own and maybe even more. That might mean they want to be the best maintainers they can be. How can they do that without completing their education, to include their Community College of the Air Force degree and certifications? Becoming that expert will require various roles and responsibilities that will build their knowledge and understanding of the big picture, how all the various pieces move, and how to manage the chaos.
Technologies change, processes change, hopefully for the better, and people are always complicated. Your Airmen will always have something to learn whether they realize it or not. Please show them the path and provide them the support to find their way. Success requires planning and choices. Airmen cannot make educated choices without the necessary information.
So how does that all relate to the beginning of the article? It’s simple. Have a goal, make a plan to get there and take the appropriate action. You will need help, guidance and mentoring to achieve it, and so will your Airmen. Guess who they are looking to for that? You.