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NEWS | Oct. 23, 2008

Accountability and respect saves Airmen

By Master Sgt. Anthony Berman 316th Opperations Group first sergeant

Our Air Force is the greatest in the world. It's the greatest because our Air Force invests in its people. We provide education and training that is second to none. It's through PME that we are entrusted with significantly greater responsibilities than that of other countries. However, where much is given much is required. So, as you progress in rank your level of accountability increases, personally and professionally. 

Accountability is the foundation for our growth and success. So often supervisors say, "I don't want to hurt someone's career," thus they fail to hold the member accountable. Supervisors, you must stop rationalizing your actions for the sake of the Airman's career and start accepting your responsibility to correct the behavior. Contrary to belief, by not holding them accountable you are not only hurting their career but you risk damaging your unit's cohesiveness and ultimately, the mission. 

Typically, supervisors are at wits end before accountability comes into play, by then the damage is done. Now, a lack of discipline (due to delayed accountability) becomes a morale issue which rapidly spreads throughout the unit. However, with early and progressive intervention, i.e. verbal counseling, letters of counseling and so forth, you significantly increase the chance of correcting the problem. We all want the best for our Airmen, however, when standards are violated we must document and prepare for the worst case scenario while continuing to encourage them to achieve to the best of their ability. 

Picture yourself standing in the middle of a seesaw, the mission is on one end and the Airman on the other. It is your responsibility, as the supervisor, to keep the seesaw balanced; mission accomplishment vs. mentoring the Airman. Depending on the circumstances you must discern when to lean to the left or the right in order to bring the seesaw into balance for the betterment of the mission and the Airman. Failing to be impartial causes the Airman and the mission to become disjointed; especially when personal biases and personalities are interjected in the process. 

Our responsibility is not to like or dislike. As military members, our objective should be: service to the mission to include subordinates as well as superiors, "Service-before-Self." Emotional involvement makes you part of the problem which contributes to the diminishment of morale in the unit. The focus should be to address the behavior promptly and professionally. Becoming emotional permits the member to lose focus on their offense and refocus on your reaction. It then becomes you against them instead of them being held accountable to the standards. 

If you really want to make a difference, show genuine concern and respect when holding an Airman accountable; it's not personal, it's business. And, someday you may get a call thanking you for shaping a career.