Supervisors, don't leave your Airmen behind

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Scott Passman
  • 81st Force Support Squdron first sergeant
The final paragraph of the Airman's Creed states, "I will never leave an Airman behind," which goes beyond the battlefield. All around our Air Force, Airmen are "left behind" daily. Every time an Airman fails a fitness test or dorm inspection, misses an appointment, wears the uniform incorrectly, a non-commissioned officer has left an Airman behind. I know some of you just sat up a little straighter in your chair and are ready to rumble, but please, read on. 

My first supervisor--a sharp staff sergeant--supervised four young Airmen. His initial briefing was very clear: "Be at work 15 minutes early, make sure your uniform is impeccable and know your job from top to bottom." No matter how early we came to work, he always set the example by being there before us. He considered it a personal insult and a failure on his part if someone else had to correct any of us for uniform violations. Additionally, he took time to understand our strengths and weaknesses so he could tailor his training and mentoring to make sure we all grew together as a team to accomplish the mission. It was his personal mission to ensure we were not only meeting, but exceeding the standards. He never depended on e-mail or third-party communication. He's the supervisor I've tried to become. Are you that dedicated to your Airmen or are you leaving them behind? 

Consider whether you leave your Airmen behind: Have you seen them today? Were they on time? Do their uniforms meet the standard? Do they stand around with their hands in their pockets? Do they wear sunglasses on their head? Do they know their job? What have you done today to teach them? Do you document their "on-the-job" progress and train them? Are their dorm rooms clean? Do they care for their families? Have you taken them to the education office to get their Community College of the Air Force degrees started or finished? Do you recognize them publicly for doing great work? Do you set the example for your Airmen or do you leave them behind? 

We all have different leadership styles, but I think we can all learn a little something from my first supervisor. It's time we take a hard look at ourselves for an honest evaluation. It's time we invest just a little more time and effort into our Airmen. By spending 15 more minutes each day with our Airmen, after a year, we invest almost 70 more hours into their development. 

It's time to be accountable. The Airmen's Creed is more than words -- it's a way of life. Whether we're here at Keesler or in the middle of the battlefield, it's up to us to ensure we never leave an Airman behind.