New staff sergeant selectees: Are you ready?

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Armand Fajardo
  • 62nd Comptroller Squadron
"Are we promoting our senior airmen too fast?" is a question I hear from many. Oftentimes, it's not even in the form of a question, people just state their opinion and compare the promotion rates now from the past. Whether it's true or not, they met the Air Force criteria and were selected to enter the next level of the enlisted force structure--the noncommissioned officer tier. Therefore, instead of dwelling on the question, I believe it is more relevant to ask and prepare our promotees whether or not they are ready. How? Is Airman Leadership School the answer? It may help. However, I firmly believe a good start for our promotees to know if they're ready is through an honest self-evaluation.

An honest self-evaluation is sometimes tough to accomplish. But in order to be ready and prepare for the "battle"--that is, to become a reputable NCO--one has to realize what he/she needs to improve on. The realization has to begin with a truthful assessment of one's self. Some may say that true realization happens during the course of a journey. However, in order to make it easier for someone to face the challenges ahead, one may need to determine if he/she has what it takes to take them on. I believe that by truthfully answering these simple questions it could validate their readiness level:

Do I understand and am I willing to enforce Air Force standards? Am I ready to lead by example and have the courage to stand by these standards and hold myself and others accountable?

Am I ready to make sacrifices and place my subordinates' needs above my own? Do I accept "obligation" to ensure subordinates are trained, qualified, and ready to deploy?
Am I ready to accept and execute lawful orders, as well as give them without reservation even if I disagree with them?

Do I have the passion to continuously look for opportunities to improve and motivate subordinates to do the same?

If one is committed to answer these questions truthfully and strive to answer them with a "yes" answer whether now or in the future, they are on the right path to become a good NCO. There may be other relevant questions that can be asked but I believe these are good points to begin with. While there are many more sources that may prepare an Airmen to become an NCO, such as the "Little Brown Book" (Enlisted Force Structure), Professional Development Guide, Airman Leadership School, leadership books, etc.--in the end, it all boils down to one's commitment to evaluate themselves and being determined to be able to answer "yes" on all of these self-assessment questions mentioned.

People may form their opinion about Airmen's fast promotion, but their opinion does not and will not make these future leaders ready. However, encouraging them to look in the mirror and conduct a truthful self-evaluation may help provided that they are committed to get better by striving to give a "yes" answer to these assessment questions. So, for those promotees who are reading this commentary, here's my ultimate question: "Are you ready?"