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Everyone is a leader

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Seth Jones
  • 387th Expeditionary Support Squadron
In today's Air Force, each one of us is a leader; no matter the rank on a sleeve, every single Airman can lead and impact those around them. In my years of service I have been fortunate to serve alongside phenomenal leaders, many of whom had less rank or time in service than I did at any given time. Though our culture is clearly, and by necessity, rank centric, leadership often transcends pay-grades. In many situations across the Air Force, young Airmen are leading those around them; some of whom greatly out-rank them.

Anyone, regardless as to what rank insignia they wear can lead those around them. We can lead by learning new skills and sharing them with our co-workers, by adhering to the standards and insisting those around us do so too and we can lead by being the professional Airmen the Air Force needs us to be. Throughout my career I have encountered exceptional leaders from all walks of life, a myriad of Air Force Specialty Codes and spread across the spectrum of ranks. Though some were colonels and others chiefs, many were young Airmen still on their first enlistment. These leaders were not defined by their rank; they were defined by their professionalism, their willingness to help and teach, and their desire to help those around them succeed.

Consider your current work center, who are the strongest leaders? Is it the flight commander, the flight chief or non-commissioned officer in charge? What about the company grade officers? Are some of the strong leaders around you the most junior of Airmen? What is it about these individuals that bring them to the fore of your mind, and what can you do to help instill those qualities in yourself and others? As Airmen, we know that we should seek to continually develop ourselves and others and a large part of that is building our skills as leaders. I encourage you to look at the young Airmen around you and seek out what you can do to help develop their leadership skills. Seek out opportunities for them to grow into being a confident leader, pushing them beyond their comfort zone and showing them the leadership capability they hold, regardless their rank.

Do not let yourself or those around you be limited in leadership and growth simply because they are not the highest-ranking member in the equation. Though certain times clearly call for the legitimate power associated with rank, many other times, offer us the flexibility to let others grow. The young Airmen of today will someday wear those higher ranks, so why not give their leadership skills some work before then?