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An Influencer's Attitude

Posted 7/6/2010   Updated 7/6/2010 Email story   Print story


by Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Candler
423rd Air Base Group Superintendent

7/6/2010 - RAF ALCONBURY, United Kingdom -- As I made the rounds again the other day, I couldn't help but take notice of the fact that nearly half of the supervisors I talked to hesitated with a long sigh before telling me how their Airmen were doing. But as I compared that day to other days, it wasn't the challenges these supervisors faced that struck me...it was the influence each had toward these challenges.

All of us are given leadership opportunities that test our ability and patience. After all, that is a key ingredient in the development to becoming an even-better leader for our country and our Airmen. But I would submit a small portion of these challenges do not arise based solely on the behavior of an Airman; rather, they are manifested through their supervisor's attitude and lack of adherence to standards.

One simple example...I'm at a meeting a few years ago and three senior NCOs each brief the discipline issues their flights have been encountering. However, all three were not wearing their uniform properly. What made it worse was the officer in charge briefing the cumulative trends had his flight dress uniform sleeves pushed up to his elbows. Throughout this meeting, all four presented no reasoning for the standards violations their Airmen were exhibiting other than "they're just a different breed".

The meeting ended, I stayed and talked to the four of them privately, and asked them how should they expect Airmen to follow the basic standards if their leaders weren't going to do the same? The shock and frustration in their faces said enough, but their answer of "Chief, that has nothing to do with what we're facing" really solidified it.

More recently and as the new superintendent, I visited two separate work sections divided by no more than 30 feet. In the first, I entered the door and saw seven junior NCOs and Airmen joking, all ignoring me until I interrupted their conversation and asked for the NCOIC. As the Technical Sergeant and I talked, I found out that two personnel failed their CDCs recently, one had failed dormitory room inspection, and one just received their third consecutive "Poor" fitness assessment. As we talked more, I noticed the NCOIC had failed his latest PT assessment as well, had not completed a feedback on any of the personnel within the past 10 months, and had not worked on the OJT records for his upgrade trainees for some time.

Walking into the next workcenter, I was immediately welcomed with "how are you today, Chief?" and "Airpower"...they heard I like that. A recent quarterly award recipient, ALS award recipient, and Senior Airman Below-the-Zone recipient filled the room, all working on their CCAF degree completion as well. The NCOIC quickly came to the front and began to tell me about mission obstacles and how they were knocking them down one-by-one...impressive to say the least. Talking to her on the side, there were no readiness, team, or personal issues to be concerned with.

These were a few examples illustrating to me just how profound a leader's influence can be through action and example...much more so than we may think. Coming in with the attitude of serving your Airmen and Nation at maximum effectiveness will go a long way in the development of your Airmen and minimizing the negative challenges you face as a supervisor. Remember, Airmen serving and joining our Air Force today warrant solid leadership and inspiration. For them...for America's mothers and fathers...give it to them. Airpower!

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