Becoming a supervisor

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Stephanie Morris
  • Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs
This is the first in a three part series describing the role and views of different supervisors in each tier of Air Force enlisted leadership. First from the viewpoint of Airmen, then NCOs, and finally SNCOs all from separate career fields.

Three young men from very different backgrounds now find themselves at the same point in their Air Force careers as they prepare to become Staff Sergeants and supervisors.

Senior Airman Vince Betzel, 91st Missile Maintenance Squadron missile communication team chief, grew up in Iowa and worked at a FedEx as well as the famous mouse themed restaurant.

His decision to join the Air Force was based on a suggestion from a close friend.

"My best friend is in the Air Force and suggested I join because it's a reliable job with good benefits," Betzel said.

Senior Airman Josh Love, 5th Civil Engineer Squadron water and fuels maintenance journeyman, left his job as a big-game hunt tour guide to attend Montana State University and work towards a biology major before joining.

"I found out that I wasn't ready for college and that my life was sort of stagnating," Love said. "My parents were both in the Marines and my dad suggested that I join the Air Force."

Senior Airman Scott Allen, 5th Maintenance Squadron fuel systems repair technician, also joined the Air Force to escape what he felt was a rut in his life.

"I went to a welding school in Florida and then went to work in Utah," Allen said.

However, shortly after moving to Utah he found himself working as a sales associate at Lowes. This was the point when Allen decided he wanted to begin a career in the military.

"I wanted a change in my life and wanted to pursue an education in chemistry and biology," Allen said.

Though their reasons for enlisting are diverse, all three Airmen are slowly learning they have many things in common as they attend Airman Leadership School here.

One topic they share many of the same views on is what it takes to be a good and effective supervisor.

According to Betzel, good supervisors are always there for their people and work to help their Airmen achieve their goals, instead of working to achieve their own ends.

"When I'm a supervisor I will work to get my people recognized for their efforts on the job," said Betzel. "I'm going to do my best to avoid blanket policies. I'll make sure that they win awards or receive decorations when they deserve them. I will also try to make sure people who haven't earned recognition aren't lumped in with those who have."

Love shared many of Betzel's sentiments and believes an effective supervisor is one who leads by example, "walking the walk," and helps Airmen plan for the future.

"I had a past supervisor that I really looked up to, who worked with me on tasks," Love said. "Working alongside your Airmen and doing the same job builds respect."

According to Love, a supervisor shouldn't ask their Airmen to do things they aren't willing to do themselves. Love explained when he becomes a supervisor he will do his best to set his people up for success, whether they stay in the Air Force or not.

"I will focus on keeping their work and training records updated and organized for their use," Love said. "That way they are prepared for whatever career choice they decide to make."

Allen agreed with his peer's views on leadership and also expressed he feels supervisors need to focus on educating their people.

"There is a lot of training that needs to take place in my career field," Allen said. "Going over each training point in person and making sure your Airmen understand a task, before signing their training records, is the mark of a good supervisor."

He stated supervisors should be able to admit when they make mistakes, and also guide and stand by their Airmen even when they know they have done something wrong.

"The most important thing to me when I'm a supervisor will be to avoid favoritism," Allen said. "I want to ensure my Airmen are all treated fairly and equally."

Looking to the future, all three Airmen strive to inspire their Airmen and institute changes to help them succeed. Whether it's educating them on mistakes they have seen, teaching them how to work and lead in or out of the Air Force, or passing on crucial job knowledge and experience, the three have begun to build a picture of what kind of leaders they want to be.

"I already supervise a lot of Airmen in my shop," Allen said. "Becoming a Staff Sergeant is only going to make it easier for me to train them and push them towards their own success."