Make the hard call: live up to standards

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Ramona Mayer
  • 81st Diagnostics and Therapeutics Squadron superintendent
"Chief, we really do need another option to choose from in Block 3," I was told recently.

I disagree with that statement because the fitness portion of an enlisted performance report seems pretty straightforward to me because the Airman either meets standards, does not meet standards or is exempt from fitness testing.

The real issue isn't the Airman's fitness status but rather the supervisor's ability to make a judgment call. This particular Airman had received a "satisfactory" fitness score, but had spent significant time during the reporting period in the fitness improvement program for failing to present a professional military image while in uniform. After providing feedback, resources and time to make improvements, it was now time to reflect on her ability to comply with all standards during the reporting period -- including a professional military image.

As leaders, when we are given the responsibility to supervise Airmen, we also have the responsibility to ensure they are given clear expectations and know the expected standards of performance, conduct, fitness and dress and appearance. If supervisors have done their part, as outlined in Air Force Instruction 36-2618, "The Enlisted Force Structure," by providing continuous feedback, engaging at every opportunity to teach, mentor and coach our Air Force core values, standards and way of life -- it becomes a matter of what the Airman has chosen when evaluation time comes.

One of the toughest lessons to learn is taking responsibility and complying. But the lesson doesn't start with the Airmen we supervise; it starts with us. Each day we should take an honest look at ourselves and ask, "Do I inspire confidence in my abilities to defend the American public -- those who ultimately pay my salary?" "Do I live a lifestyle of integrity or is that a word I drop only when it's convenient?" Or, "Am I the role model and epitome of a professional belonging to the world's greatest Air Force?" Nothing will cheapen credibility and erode authority faster than not following rules while pointing fingers at others.

Chief Master Sgt. Scott Dearduff, Air Force Central Command and 9th Air Force command chief, spent countless hours mentoring all Airmen around him. He would say, "Don't just talk the talk but walk the walk." He taught me actions are far greater than words because our actions demonstrate what's in the heart and will show the true fabric someone is made from.
My challenge for you is to make the hard call, hold yourself and your Airmen accountable to all standards, live Air Force core values and inspire others.