Recently, while deployed, I came in one morning and saw things were more hectic than usual.
The two master sergeants on shift gave me the morning update and the day wasn’t starting off well. Planes were broken, the flying schedule was a mess and my people were running around with their hair on fire. My instinct to fix things kicked in. “I got this,” I told the master sergeants. “Let’s go.”
I hopped in the truck with them and we went to the flight line. I took over and told them to do this, do that, put this over there, send those people there. I enjoyed myself, having flashbacks to my younger days on the flight line.
After a few hours, things started to calm down. The work pace got back to normal and we started to look good. Crisis averted. I left the two master sergeants to their jobs and I went back to my day.
That night while sitting in my room, I reflected back on the day like I normally do. When I thought about the morning, it occurred to me while I was in the truck barking directions, the two master sergeants were very quiet. Through all the chaos of the moment, I hadn’t realized it, but the more I thought about it, I thought they were upset. It was then I realized I had messed up. The next morning, I talked to the two master sergeants about the day prior. One of them told me, “Chief, you said you got it, but we already had it.”
I took a bite of humble pie that day. The day prior was an opportunity for those two master sergeants to grow professionally and gain experience in a deployed location. Instead of overseeing them and making sure they were doing what they were supposed to be doing to fix the situation, I took that opportunity from them. It was a lesson learned for me.
This lesson applies to all of us, from the first-line supervisors to chiefs. I see it happen all of the time. When things aren’t going right, a lot of us have a tendency to jump in and fix it ourselves instead of using the situation to grow and develop our Airmen. Some situations require us to jump in, but most can be resolved by our people, if we let them.
The next time you’re in a situation like that, ask yourself, “Do I need to take this over or can I oversee the situation and let my people resolve this?” Our Airmen can accomplish great things if we give them the opportunity.
Remember, let your people do their jobs.