Show your Airmen that you care

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. David Nordel
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing command chief
I had made my mind up about what I was going to write this month, but since my ride to Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., for the Non-commisioned Officer Academy, I've changed my mind ... because airplanes have a way of introducing you to both amazing and inspiring people. So there I am sitting next to a person with a Doctorate of Philosophy in Leadership that knows every major leadership teacher I could name intimately. He even told me personal stories about the two guys that wrote the book I was reading.

In the midst of our conversation, he explained to me the most profound lesson in leadership. The basics (just as explained by our Air Force chief of staff) in leadership are to remember that people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care about them.

I recently addressed the Top 3 and asked them to take the time to talk to their Airmen, to take those five to ten minutes to understand more about them. You should know what they like, who they are, their background and how they grew up; and you should know their future goals and significant events of their past. It doesn't take long, but it gives you a better perspective about those that you are responsible for and it lets them know that you care.

Some of you may be saying, '"hey, the chief is only talking to senior leaders and senior non-commissioned officers!" Absolutely not! This starts with the Airman Basics and runs through all ranks. We're all leaders and what you know may save a life someday. If you show people that you care, during those times you are offering friendly wisdom in a tough time, you might just make enough of an impact that you avert a suicide, stop a driving under the influence charge or keep someone from making a bad decision during a high risk event. They'll be more responsive to your advice.

So as we go into the holiday season and we have our friends, subordinates and peers getting ready to spend time at home, on base or fighting overseas, take the time to spend that extra ten minutes to discover what they have going on in their world. Show that you care; it's cheap, it's easy, it makes a large impact and it's the basics that should be natural to you as a leader and as an Airman.

One team! One family! One fight!