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NEWS | Nov. 18, 2019

Leadership through our leaders’ eyes: an NCOs perspective

By Staff Sgt. Christian Sullivan Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

With the need for good leadership in the Air Force being so critical, the Joint Base Charleston public affairs office is conducting an interview series with leaders at the NCO and senior NCO level, to find out what they view as good leadership, and how they try to connect for those they supervise.

We started by interviewing Tech. Sgt. Samuel Hays, 437th Operations Support Squadron aircrew operations noncommissioned officer in charge, where he directly supervises three staff sergeants, while also overseeing 19 members in his section. Hays uses his experience in an NCO organization to connect with Airmen, while also still remembering where he came from as he climbed the ranks:

What does your job entail?

I’m primarily responsible for the inspection maintenance and delivery of aircrew safety system equipment for over 1,000 aircrew members.

How important would you say leadership and mentorship is?

Leadership and mentoring are broad words. They’re very important, but they have a lot of different faces. Leadership is one word for direction, mentorship is coaching, to me. When you provide the right leadership, you’re bringing direction to your team.

What tools have the Air Force provided you to become a better leader and mentor?

There’s a lot you get during your developmental stages even starting in basic training when they give you discipline, that’s a tool. As you progress in tech school you get education in your field, farther along you learn communication in Airman Leadership School as you become an NCO. One of the tools I’m using right now is the 5/6 club, which was founded by NCOs so we could have an organization to have a voice for each other. It’s a tool I’m using right now to give back to younger Airmen as a mentor and leader while also voicing NCOs ideas to senior NCOs and higher leadership.

How have you used some of these tools to mentor Airmen?

I try to use things I’ve learned along the way every day. One specific example I can think of is an event we put on with the 5/6 club where we brought in senior leadership to pair them up with junior Airmen and let them ask questions about the Air Force and get advice on their careers.

As a technical sergeant, you’re one stripe away from the senior NCO tier. What’s something you hope to take from your time as a Tech. Sgt. and an NCO into that tier?

That’s a question I should continue to ask myself as I continue to make rank and grow. One thing I’ll try to remember is what it was like to be a junior Airman, and working in that position wanting to do better and to be an NCO. I’ll try to remember where I am now and wanting that drive to have an impact on Airmen.