• Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Wesley Helseth
  • 436th Maintenance Group

Continuous effort drives motivation, accomplishment and excellence. Looking back on my Air Force career, the effort that I put into my work has in return widened my knowledge base, created opportunities, expanded my network and has allowed me to have a positive impact on those around me. Effort is a driving force that is developed and strengthened over time through our interactions and experiences. I have been lucky to have had great supervisors and colleagues who have trusted me enough to put me in situations to succeed and taught me how to be the best technician and team member to accomplish the mission; that providing my best effort everyday was highly valued and was instrumental in being successful. Effort is also influenced by experiences early on in your life and can change as your personal and professional development and goals change. What has given me the drive to give maximum effort are not just the successes earned but also the teachings from my family.

First, my grandfather, a retired Marine, taught me that it is right to maximize effort in all things and to leave things better than received. I have brought this with me throughout my career. Second, my wife Jill adds to this foundation. She reminds me to be myself, to remain positive and productive. Just like my grandfather and wife do for me, I believe that everyone benefits from having people in their lives to motivate them to do well. I challenge you to find someone who will be your mentor or coach and to expend the effort in paying it forward to your subordinates and colleagues. There are many ways to expend effort in a positive way to better succeed as a follower, supervisor and leader.

As an Airman, there is room to excel at applying effort daily. Start by arriving to your designated area of responsibility a few minutes early to allow time to assess and plan your day.  In doing so, you can maximize your time and effort toward relevant and/or needed areas. Take ownership of your skill level and be proactive in getting needed training. Nobody cares more about what you need or want than yourself, so do not let your time idle. See if you can provide some assistance to your peers or other sections getting after the day’s tasks. You will learn more being where the action is.

As a noncommissioned officer you will build upon what you leaned as an Airman and master your skill set. However, in this supervisory role, you will also focus on supporting the Airman in your work center as a front-line supervisor. To be effective you must be willing to push yourself to be engaged with your Airmen and have honest discussions about things that matter to them. For example: mental, physical and spiritual health, race relations, suicide prevention, family, finance and fun. On top of knowing your people, noncommissioned officers must also create an environment where their efforts and the well-being of others can flourish. Here are four ways to set this tone: One, be a positive role model and challenge the norms within your work center and unit. If you are willing to do what you are asking of your Airmen, then you will earn credibility and build trust. Two, challenge the status quo. Do not accept doing things because they have always been done that way. Look for ways to improve the job or the quality of life for your Airmen. Three, be the trainer and supervisor you would want for yourself. Set high but attainable standards that are measurable and provide constant feedback and correction. Four, be accountable for your actions and your Airmen’s performance. Admit when you are wrong, highlight what was learned and correct appropriately when needed. If you are consistent and fair, you will find that your Airmen will respect you and your actions.

At a basic level as a senior NCO, your scope of responsibility and the need for your effort in leadership will be significantly increased. You will be responsible for ensuring organizational requirements are met, and to lead, guide and equip your Airmen to get the mission done effectively and efficiently. In this role, it is important to ensure you are present, available and consistent for your subordinates and unit. Make great effort to have boots on the ground and go and see what your Airmen are doing. By doing so, you will gain knowledge to create an environment where their efforts and their well-being will flourish. Be deliberate in looking for opportunities for growth for your Airmen through specialized training, advanced leadership courses, professional development classes and mentoring sessions. By providing focused effort in talent management, you will find that your Airmen and unit will be well equipped to handle any task. Be transparent, consistent, fair with your decisions and communicate openly and trust will be earned. Be accountable to and for your Airmen. They need to know they can come to you with issues and that you have their best interest in mind. While I have listed many expected performance values of the senior NCO, the effort exerted within this role will make the difference in doing a good job or excelling at it.

Going the extra mile may translate into a job well done, a promotion, knowledge gained, a new opportunity or even a life saved. I have given you plenty of ideas where you can focus your efforts. Be cognizant of the fact that you are in the driver’s seat. Take action. Give your best effort. Be the exception.