Good supervisors are long remembered

Master Sgt. Connie Leah
Headquarters USAFE, Reserve Affairs

The personnel career field may not sound exciting to some, but it is rewarding to me.  I am a career personnelist and ever since I was an Airman I wanted to be a senior NCO, but not because of the reasons that one would think, pride, service to your country, freedom, etc. 

When I first came into the Air Force in the 80s I had a first sergeant who was intimidating. Every day Airmen ever-so-gently knocked on his door. After asking permission to enter, they stepped into his smoke-filled room (the shirt was at least a two-packer) and made their way to the desk where he sat with his boots comfortably propped up. The door never quite closed so I always tried to see what was going on as the smoke was creeping out into my area of the office.

It seemed as though no one ever came out of his office happy. This position of authority intrigued me. What power! I am going to be just like him someday, I thought.

Now I have that stripe, but it is not like it was back then, nor would I want it to be. Today’s military has a whole new face. My job here is not to intimidate people, but to nurture and mold them to be future master sergeants.
Gone are the days of crusty old shirts, sitting in smoke filled rooms, making people feel inadequate and having the power to make or break a career
My everyday life is filled with writing EPRs, decorations, holding feedback sessions, giving letters of reprimand, asking an Airman if life is OK at home and going out on a Friday night to pick up a drunken Airman, who, instead of taking his life and the lives of others into his hands, was brave enough to call and ask me for a ride.

As an NCO, I talk with Airmen and find out their strengths and weaknesses, what they want to do with their lives, what career will best suit them and help them go in that direction.

My primary job still needs to get done while accomplishing all of the above.
Today’s Top 3  are much more challenged, have a greater workload and are now, more than ever, an integral part of the Air Force. We have to know the big picture and move our team toward that ever-moving target.
This job is a great one, it is busy, it is emotional, it is rewarding (and yes, it doesn’t always feel like it in the moment), it is challenging and it is one that will affect future generations. 

I will always remember my bad supervisors (like the shirt), but the extraordinary supervisors are still in my life today, long after I’ve worked for them and after some have retired, because they still have a job to do, mentoring me to be a future chief.