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November Chief's Perspective

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Travis, the aircraft systems supervisor with the 169th Maintenance Squadron at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, South Carolina Air National Guard, April 14, 2016.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Caycee Watson)

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Travis, the aircraft systems supervisor with the 169th Maintenance Squadron at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, South Carolina Air National Guard, April 14, 2016. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Caycee Watson)

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. -- This past June I was fortunate enough to attend The Chiefs Executive Course at Andrews Air Force Base in Washington, DC. Did you catch what I said? Fortunate. Yes, I considered myself very fortunate to take this course; not because of my rank, but because of the people I was surrounded by. The class was full of senior NCO's with years of experience, knowledge and a vast amount of expertise to draw from. The week long course, specifically designed for newly appointed chiefs, is a program which provides tools, insight and guidance to becoming a better leader. The course doesn't tell you how to be a chief, but it helps point you in the right direction. It's up to the individual whether or not they utilize the information the course provides, but I believe that to be true with any course you take. I would like to share a few of the highlights that I found to be helpful. 

Throughout your military career, you'll be given ample opportunities to take courses designed specifically for your AFSC. Some Professional Military Education (PME) courses are framed so you can perform your job in accordance with your skill level.  Each course you take will increase your knowledge and help pave the road for future success. It will help you to become a better airman and hopefully a better wingman. I highly recommend that you surround yourself with like-minded people, because you're made better or worse by the people you associate with. Being the best at what you do in the guard helps you become a key player in the big picture. The big picture is just a puzzle and you're an integral piece to that puzzle. Knowing your job and doing it to the best of your ability means you're an asset to your shop, your unit, the base and ultimately the freedom we fight and die for. Accept the responsibility the guard has placed on you and ask yourself, why would I not want to be the best at what I do?

Become a 360 degree leader. What does this mean? According to the author John C. Maxwell, it means that 99 percent of all leadership occurs not from the top, but from the middle of an organization. This means that all Staff Sgts., Tech Sgts., and Master Sgts., who are in the middle, are making leadership decisions. That's quite a statement. Now, let's consider the impact you have. First and foremost you have the ability to influence others, whether it be your peers, your subordinates or your supervisor. You have the opportunity to guide the younger troops and become a positive influence in their life. What a gift that is. You can provide guidance to your peers and be a true asset to leadership. This also means that you have to lead yourself, be willing to do what others won't, become a go-to guy and most importantly be better tomorrow than you were today. That's a lot to ask someone, but if you don't do it someone else will. They'll step up and be what you should have been. Be that guy! The time to prepare for better opportunities is now. If you want to be a successful leader, learn to lead now, while you're in the middle.

Model the behavior you desire because your growth as a leader determines the potential of McEntire. Your leadership skills must grow continuously because we tend to teach what we know and produce what we are. If you don't improve as a leader, then the growth of your troops may be impacted. Young airmen are influenced by your values and work ethics. If you don't like what your troops are doing, then maybe it's time to take a hard look at yourself. Your attitude and behavior have a direct impact on your work area.  A simple quote by an unknown author best sums this up "What you allow is what will continue and what you model will thrive".

McEntire has a strong and embellished 70 year history. We are a unique, professional and inspiring team that drives each other to be better in all aspects of our lives. I encourage each of you to continue to put forth your best effort, grow as a leader and invest time in the younger troops. They are after all, the future of McEntire!

Semper Primus