Year of the NCO; Master Sgt. Joe Klimaski

  • Published
  • By Christopher Parr
  • 932nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Today we spotlight Master Sgt. Joe Klimaski, 932nd AW Occupational Safety Manager

932nd AW: In just a few words what is an NCO?

JK: In my opinion, an NCO is a guide and mentor – someone who sets a positive example for Airmen and peers alike.

932nd AW: In your words, what are some responsibilities of an NCO?

JK: Guiding, mentoring, and taking care of Airmen, in an effort to set them up for success (both professionally and personally).

932nd AW: What do you think it takes to become an NCO?

JK: Knowledge, reliability, trust (from both leadership and subordinates), and last but not least, displaying an innate ability to take care of Airmen.  The one thing that I learned when I transitioned from Active Duty to the Reserves is that everything moves so fast, time is at a premium, so it takes extra effort to make sure your Airmen are taken care of because you may only see them a few days every month.

932nd AW: What changed from being an Airman to becoming an NCO?

JK: I think the obvious is that you transition from being told what to do, to being expected to take initiative and lead/manage.  Additionally, the moment you transition to NCO, it’s all about “your people”…  You don’t come first any longer, and you need to make it a point (every day) to take care of Airmen and place their needs/wants ahead of your own.  At the end of the day, if you want your Airmen to succeed, the responsibility falls on you as the mentor/guide, and taking care of them becomes Priority #1.

932nd AW: What advice would you offer Airman?

JK: Lead. By. Example. Your Airmen are going to act, perform, and carry themselves the way that you carry yourself…  Culture is driven by leadership, so it’s imperative that you set a positive example for your Airmen to follow.

932nd AW: Do you have a mentor or anyone that helped you in career to becoming an NCO?

JK: Absolutely… I’ve had many – probably way too many to count in my 17 year Air Force career.  I’m very thankful to all the mentors that took time to guide me, offer sound advice (to include constructive criticism and things that I didn’t necessarily want to hear), and made sure that I was taken care of both professionally and personally.  I in-turn try to use all those “lessons learned” as an SNCO.

932nd AW: Anything you would like to add?

JK: Get to know everything about your Airmen, and take the extra time to show them that you genuinely care…  If your Airmen can’t trust that you have their better interests at heart, it’s going to be impossible to be an effective leader/manager (as an NCO).

Thank you Master. Sgt. Klimaski for sharing your knowledge and experience with us.