Exceptional Leader Spotlight: Reflection from the end

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever
  • 31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

When you finally reach the top, a reflection from the past often shows the great accomplishments, the painful obstacles and the image of who we hoped to be.

As a Chief Master Sgt. select, Senior Master Sgt. Jeffrey Vicars, superintendent of the 31st Dental Squadron, Aviano Air Base, knows that reflection quite well and takes everything he has learned with great understanding.

“I personally try really hard to never take anything for granted, and leadership is one of those ‘anythings’,” said Vicars. “Early in my career I had a supervisor tell me that you should always strive to work one stripe above the one you’re wearing, and that holds true for me with this promotion. I was lucky to have a lot of practice as a Senior Master Sgt. and as a Chief select, I hope that I can continue to guide and mentor our Airmen to achieve their personal greatness.”

Vicars deliberately connects with Airmen because he remembers the beginning of his career and why he joined the Air Force. 

“I joined the Air Force straight out of high school with really no idea of what I was getting myself into,” said Vicars. “I came in open general as an Airman Basic, basically because I didn’t want to go to school.”

The job he was placed into wasn’t exactly what he wanted.  

“When I found out I was coming into the dental career field, I originally protested that I didn’t want to be a dental tech,” said Vicars. “I’ve since grown into loving it, and very much appreciate the opportunities that have come from the job.”

Even though Vicars loved his job, he still had to make a decision all Airmen have to make: whether or not he wanted to make the Air Force a career.

“I truly feel that there is a moment in our careers where something just clicks, and you decide whether or not the Air Force is for you,” said Vicars. “Mine came at a critical time right before my second enlistment. I knew that if I chose to stay, I would be making a commitment to lead and be in a decision making position. I wanted to be a [noncommissioned officer] and dreamed of being a [senior noncommissioned officer], but I was tired and felt like I needed a change. After talking with my Dad, I decided to stay and devoted myself to being the best NCO I could be.”

To achieve the goal, Vicars connected and deepened his personal relationships with everyone around him.  

“Communication has and will always be on top of my priority list,” said Vicars. “Connecting and communicating helps form a bond.”

Vicars teaches newer Airmen strategic tips that helped him throughout his career.

“Take time to learn and understand what you’re doing,” said Vicars. “I see too many new leaders focus on trying to manage tasks without understanding the process. “Once you understand the process, you may be able to come up with better ideas to complete the task.”

At the end it should be every Airman’s goal to be the best version they can be.

“You are not competing with anyone other than yourself,” said Vicars. “Try to be a better version of yourself every day; sometimes we win and sometime we don’t, and it’s all OK. Savor the victories and learn from the losses.”