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Be the leader we remember

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – In my 25 years in the Air Force, I have had the opportunity to work with many types of leaders.  The leaders I remember most are the ones who weren’t afraid to make decisions.  Many times, I found that people waivered and failed to make a move because it might be unpopular or be an uncomfortable decision to make.

As leaders, it is up to us to be willing to step outside of our comfort zone and make the hard decisions. In doing so, we let our Airmen know we will stand up for what we believe in. 

Chief Master Sgt. Gerald R. Murray stated in an article entitled, Concepts for Air Force Leadership, “The military is unique in that we grow our Airmen to be courageous leaders. When Airmen first join the Air Force, we teach them how to be technically proficient in their jobs. We ask them to look at procedures and see if there are ways to make improvements. I recently visited the Phoenix Spark lab on base and was very impressed at the work our Airmen are doing to increase efficiency. These Airmen are taking courageous steps.”

As non-commissioned officers, our military members start to become leaders of people, and are now responsible for the growth of the Airmen following them.  We count on our NCOs to make decisions ensuring the right person gets put in the right job, at the right time, for the success of the mission. This movement will at times cause our Airmen to have to move outside of their comfort zone and learn something new.  It is from the support and knowledge of our NCOs that these members will be willing to take another courageous step forward.

Once our NCOs become senior NCOs their responsibility to continue building courageous leaders doesn’t stop.  We must build our replacements through force development opportunities.  Assigning NCOs to special duties and giving them an opportunity to increase their breadth of experience will only better prepare them for the future.

The Air Force Reserve has changed over the years and we now have the opportunity to serve in special duties.  We now have members serving as recruiters, technical instructors and on the honor guard, just to name a few. 

We have all heard the phrase, “Force development isn’t forced development.” There is opportunity for those who want the chance to do something different.  We, as leaders, must be willing to offer those opportunities even though it may mean we lose our strongest members. Be honest, live with integrity and guide our Airmen to be courageous and embrace the challenges ahead–to be leaders we remember.