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What does it take to be a leader?

Then Senior Master Sgt. Michael Rozneck, 50th Operations Support Squadron superintendent, learns he earned the rank of chief master sergeant March 4, 2020, at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. Rozneck battled and beat stage two testicular cancer after undergoing emergency surgery and 23 rounds of chemo therapy. Through it all, he said he learned to appreciate the present and stop worrying about the past and future. (U.S. Air Force photo by Dennis Rogers)

Then Senior Master Sgt. Michael Rozneck, 50th Operations Support Squadron superintendent, learns he earned the rank of chief master sergeant March 4, 2020, at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. Now, Rozneck, Space Delta 8 senior enlisted leader, said he wants Airmen to appreciate their current rank rather than constantly worrying about the next promotion. (U.S. Space Force photo by Dennis Rogers)

Col. Ericka Farmer-Hill, 50th Mission Support Group commander, right, gathers with leadership and members of the 50th Force Support Squadron Dec. 10, 2020, at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. Farmer-Hill said it takes a team to propel Airmen to leadership status and younger Airmen shouldn’t be afraid to ask leadership questions. (U.S. Space Force photo by Marcus Hill)

Col. Ericka Farmer-Hill, 50th Mission Support Group commander, right, gathers with leadership and members of the 50th Force Support Squadron Dec. 10, 2020, at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. Farmer-Hill said it takes a team to propel Airmen to leadership status and younger Airmen shouldn’t be afraid to ask leadership questions. (U.S. Space Force photo by Marcus Hill)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

Leadership has many definitions, and in a structured military organization, it is often defined by the member’s rank and duty title, but true leaders are not held back by those two factors.

Chief Master Sgt. Michael Rozneck, Space Delta 8 senior enlisted leader, said being a leader includes guiding other Airmen or Guardians toward improvement and showcasing how to become a better person.

“[Leadership is] about getting the mission done, but we have to focus on our people, too,” Rozneck said. “We have to take care of our people by tearing down any roadblocks they have, so they can mentally and physically come to work every day to do their job without excess interference.”

The current environment created by the coronavirus pandemic – teleworking, Zoom meetings and minimal face-to-face interactions – has made life difficult for everyone.

Rozneck said it’s not an excuse to slack and it provides an opportunity to highlight Airmen’s capabilities.

“I’ve been leaning on my [noncommissioned officers] and [company grade officers] because they’re much better with technology than I am,” Rozneck said. “I’ve asked them, ‘What ideas do you have?’ I’ve been in [the Air Force] 22-plus years, and as far as technology, new ideas don’t just flow out of me.”

Rozneck also said it’s not just important that leaders speak to younger Airmen about doing what’s right, but back their words with actions.

“What we do and what [Airmen] see is more important [than our words],” he said. “You can say something, but if you don’t walk the walk and [Airmen] don’t see you do what you say, then it’s hypocritical.”

Those actions include properly wearing a mask, everyone, including leadership, teleworking throughout the week and fulfilling physical training obligations.  

“If I’m not working out every morning or if I’m not doing what I need to do, so when that [physical training] test comes, that’d be hypocritical,” he said. “Showing up and doing what you said you’d do shows leadership.” 

Along with keeping one’s word, Col. Ericka Farmer-Hill, 50th Mission Support Group commander, said struggle is part of the leadership process - when a person makes a mistake or fails at something, those errors are lessons to propel Airmen to success.

“If you’re willing to stay determined, work according to a plan and keep getting up when you get knocked down, you’ll achieve any goal and someday your dream,” Farmer-Hill said. “I never let any of my failures stop me. Don’t think for a second I didn’t take a moment to regroup, but I didn’t let [failure] stop me.”

Rozneck and Farmer-Hill both said it’s important to improve constantly. Both added that their Wingmen boosted them to new levels of success they couldn’t have reached by themselves. Farmer-Hill said Airmen shouldn’t be afraid to get assistance from their leadership.

“If you need help, call me,” Farmer-Hill said. “I may know someone who can help you. I believe I’m successful because I have a team of people who invested in me. I want to be that person to someone else. I offer assistance to anyone who desires help.”

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