Commentary

August 8, 2014

Understanding sergeant’s words: ‘I’ve got your back’

Chief Master Sgt. Patricia Yelverton
60th Medical Support Squadron superintendent

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — Seeing the newly selected staff sergeants recently brought back memories of when I was selected for staff sergeant.

Actually, my thoughts went to the night I graduated Airman Leadership School. As I crossed the stage after receiving my completion certificate, my co-workers gathered to congratulate me and shake my hand. My supervisor, Staff Sgt. Todd Mitchell, stayed back at the table and as I approached he shook my hand and said, “I’ve got your back.”

I said, “Thank you,” as I sat down.

While cheering on my fellow graduates, I started thinking of what my supervisor said to me. What did he mean? I expected “Congratulations” or “You did awesome,” but not “I’ve got your back.”

The next morning at work, I immediately asked my supervisor if we could talk.

I asked him, “What did you mean last night when you said, ‘I’ve got your back?’” His response was surprising and informative.

“Everyone has a specific role in our section,” he said. “Before yesterday, your role was to master skills required as an Airman and a health service management apprentice. Today, your role changes to a frontline supervisor which includes responsibility for others. My duties also changed today, I am now your first line of defense, meaning I’ve got your back.”

He explained, as tasks flow down from above, I will always keep you informed and prepared to complete the mission. Also, leadership will always be aware of what you and your Airmen are working on and what requirements are being met and exceeded. Most importantly, you will make many decisions affecting personnel on a personal level as well as a professional level. Your Airmen will not always agree with you and they will come to me.

“When this happens, I want you to know, I’ve got your back,” he continued. “I will never question your decisions in front of subordinates and will never ask you to change your mind on a decision as long as it upholds the values of the Air Force. I have to make sure your subordinates understand you are the leader and will make the decisions.”

That single conversation made me a better supervisor and leader. Throughout my entire career those words have been engraved in my mind. Mitchell was right that night. I didn’t need the usual congrats, good job or well done on my graduation night. I needed to be reminded what my next step in my career was and what responsibilities lie ahead as an NCO. His words gave me the confidence in my abilities to be not only the NCO I was back then, but also the chief master sergeant and leader I am today.

I have stayed in touch with now retired Master Sgt. Mitchell for advice and mentoring. We still talk about that conversation and how he knew exactly what I needed to hear that day. He reminded me as I, in turn, remind you, “Those we lead need to know they have leaders who will stand behind them through the good and the bad.”

Today, I challenge all of you to let your subordinates know you have their back.




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


 
 

 
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jack Sanders

Patches lead from front: Weapons system experts graduate from USAFWS

U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jack Sanders Gen. Hawk Carlisle, commander of Air Combat Command, addresses graduates of the U.S. Air Force Weapons School class 14B Dec. 13 at the Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel and Casino. As the ...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Timothy Young

Chaplains help build relationships

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Timothy Young Chaplain (Capt.) Jason Klodnicki, a 99th Air Base Wing chaplain, helps coworkers find a solution to their problems during a counseling session at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., ...
 
 

New commander addresses Airmen of 12th Air Force

To all of the 12th Air Force community, Happy holidays! My wife Kristan, my three children, and I are excited to join this outstanding 12th Air Force community. I cannot adequately express how honored and humbled I feel to join this community as the commander. I certainly appreciate the exceptional efforts of General and Mrs....
 

 

COMACC lands at Nellis for USAFWS graduation

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Thomas Spangler Gen. Hawk Carlisle, Air Combat Command commander, is greeted by, and talks with, Gen. Jay Silveria, U.S. Air Force Warfare Center commander, after arriving at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Dec. 11. Carlisle attended the U.S. Air Force Weapons School graduation ceremony as the guest speaker.
 
 
ammos

AMMOS CSC class 15A graduates

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Thomas Spangler Maj. Jesse Hasenkampf (center), commander of the 159th Maintenance Squadron from Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La., is named the distinguished graduate o...
 
 

Healthy, productive ways to cope with holiday stress

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — As the holiday season quickly approaches, many Airmen become stressed when they try to figure out how to deal with visiting families, preparing large meals and buying gifts for loved ones. For others, stress can manifest because this could be their first time away from family during the holidays. Different...
 




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