Know your people

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Christopher D. Herrera
  • 22nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
After entering the Air Force in April 1993, I was very concerned that I would get lost in the shuffle.

After basic military training, I attended technical school at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, before arriving to my first duty station at Castle Air Force Base, California. When I arrived, I was told by my peers that, as long as I didn’t get Tech. Sgt. Brickerd as my supervisor, I would be just fine.

As luck would have it, I did get Brickerd as my immediate supervisor. The sergeant turned out to be the epitome of a great leader. Not only was he a great leader, but he was a great supervisor, mentor and friend. He went out of his way to get to know not only me as a person, but my family as well.

There were four of us crew chiefs that worked directly under Brickerd. He steered us in the right direction in all aspects of our lives. Right after our mission in the Air Force, education and family were at the forefront of our priorities.

We enrolled in college at the same time and finished our degrees as well. Out of the four of us, two went on to become lieutenant colonels, and the other two are now chief master sergeants.

Wow! Talk about ending up with a great leader the first time around.
Family was very important to Brickerd as well. He would have us over to his house at least once a month for a cookout. I remember sitting in his living room seeing all the things that he had achieved as a person and as a technical sergeant in the United States Air Force.

He had a big beautiful house, nice cars and an awesome family of four. Being able to see this as young Airmen really put things in perspective for us. We thought to ourselves, “This is what we have to look forward to and strive to reach in the Air Force.”

I truly believe that these cookouts were a major turning point for our careers. We had seriously gained a respect for our supervisor that most supervisors could only wish for. We all went back to work and realized that we were not only working for ourselves, but for our great supervisor who had put so much time into our lives to make sure we would be successful.

I’ll end with a quote from one of my favorite movies, “Remember the Titans.”

“Attitude Reflects Leadership, and good or bad, attitude comes from the top down.”

Getting to know your people should be one of the most important aspects of being a great supervisor. I challenge each and every one of you to learn something new about your Airmen on a daily basis. This will not only help you to lead your people in the right direction, but it will also help you to know how motivate them as well.