I have had this debate 100’s of times throughout my career. ‘We should put the highest ranking person in that position and let them succeed or fail on their own.’ This is the best argument I have heard and think it has merit, but I still disagree. I have always felt the best person should be doing the job, not necessarily the highest ranking.

There is some bias to this article as I have been in leadership positions for most of my career and there were those on my team who were older and outranked me. However, we always made it work…every time. In fact, until making SMSgt I was never the ranking person on a single team I led. This taught me that I needed to listen to everyone on my team and that rank was not a measure of leadership ability.

It still amazes me that we decide that someone’s opinion or talents do not matter until they become a Chief. There is a very active Facebook group out there seeking the opinion of Chiefs. Most of the info given is not real mentoring; rather, interpretation of AFIs. In fact, it is hard believe that there have only been three Chief in my almost 19-year career who have stood out to me in a meaningful way. However, I can name 100’s of NCOs and Amn who have made real impacts on the mission and those around them.

It scares me knowing we have some of the smartest and most innovative thinkers ever entering our ranks and just because they are E-2’s we write them off. What is even funnier is that agendas I was pushing as an E-6 are all of a sudden great ideas now. If people would have pulled their heads from their glutes 10 years ago, we could already be on the version 2.0 or even  5.0 of my original ideas.

I know I am almost never the smartest person in the room. I just wish we all could listen to the inputs of everyone and not look at their sleeves first. If we continue down this path, these smart Airmen are going to continue evacuating the ranks and find the company who will listen. We are placed in leadership positions to take care of our people, not to have them worship our statues.

I have always believed leadership comes down to the people and the task. It is our job to take care of and grow the people on our team so they can accomplish the mission even better than those who came before. If we are not setting them up for success, we need to step down and let the next person have a turn.

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