The eighth chief master sergeant of the Air Force provided his wisdom and guidance to 135 future enlisted leaders at the Kisling NCO Academy Jan. 23.
Retired Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Sam Parish’s visit to the academy was part of a five-day tour to various units and professional leadership schools in U.S. Air Forces in Europe.
“What type of supervisor will your subordinates be in the future?” he asked. “The same type of supervisor you are today.”
Frontline supervisors have the most influential job in the Air Force, Chief Parish said, and there’s more to being a supervisor than just showing up from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. He talked about several key messages, one being how important it is to get to know the people you manage. If you don’t, you may have a difficult time as a supervisor.
It’s essential for supervisors to set their Airmen up for success with productive feedback and honest Enlisted Performance Reports to assess their accomplishments, the chief said. It’s also a good idea to let them rate how well their supervisors perform as well.
“When you give your subordinates a feedback, have you ever asked them to give you a feedback as a supervisor? They might be brutally honest with you,” he said. “Make sure you take care of your people. If you take care of your people, you will never have to worry about the mission.”
And that important mission – to “Fly, Fight and Win” – requires Airmen to be on point as they deploy to places like Iraq and Afghanistan, oftentimes filling new and unique roles for the Air Force.
“We have many Airmen from several career fields that are everyday heroes in our Air Force,” he said. “The key is to teach them to love not only their jobs, but any job they do in the Air Force. Their jobs, technology and uniforms may change, but the quality of Air Force people remain the same.”
Although the enlisted force has been referred to as the “backbone” of the Air Force, the chief offered a different message – that the men and women wearing chevrons are the “heart and lungs of the Air Force.”
“A person can survive without a backbone, but cannot live without a heart and lungs,” he said.
Chief Parish was the eighth chief master sergeant of the Air Force from 1983 to 1986 and the USAFE senior enlisted adviser from 1977 to 1980.