KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- One of the most important aspects of being a great leader is caring about those you influence.
Chief Master Sgt. Michael Ditore, 18th Wing command chief, makes Airmen his top priority as Team Kadena’s senior enlisted leader.
“My priorities are the Airmen’s priorities,” said Ditore. “When you get the opportunity to serve in positions like this, it’s awesome because it’s all about helping Airmen. It’s very important to listen to them, see what their concerns are, and find out how we can help them and their families – and then, of course, we have to follow-through.”
Ditore said making the Airmen’s priorities his own has been a key philosophy of his for a long time now and will be just as vital to him to becoming a successful leader here.
“People often ask what my goals are and how I define success,” he said. “I would tell you that if my Airmen are successful, then I’m successful. If they reach their goals, then I have reached mine. That’s what’s important to me; making sure they have everything they need both personally and professionally and that they and their families are taken care of.”
Making sure Airmen and families are cared for is an important focus for any leader. Ditore said he truly believes in servant leadership and it’s what he plans to do at Kadena – serve his Airmen.
“I’ve always been honored to serve in the Air Force,” said Ditore. “We all may have volunteered to serve initially, but it’s a huge privilege to continue serving as a professional Airman in the world’s greatest Air Force and we have to remember that.”
Building relationships and making differences in lives has been a goal of Ditore’s since his first day in the Air Force.
“To me, it’s all about relationships,” Ditore explained. “You can’t truly lead someone you don’t know and you certainly can’t motivate them if you don’t know what their goals are or what inspires them. You have to be engaged and get out there and get to know your teammates and their families.”
Ditore desired to lead others and be a chief from the beginning of his Air Force career.
“Since entering the Air Force, I’ve always wanted to be a chief and go as far as I can go and become a chief,” said Ditore. “I’m pretty lucky it worked out that way and am honored to serve Airmen in this capacity. It’s not about the rank or the stripes but more about the opportunities they give you and what you do with them.”
To inspire those around him, Ditore likes to share inspirational quotes.
“Something else I usually do, that you’ll get to see with me is when I’m talking at places or doing certain events, I like to share my favorite quotes,” said Ditore. “It’s what I do to help motivate and inspire people and give them things to think about.”
He spoke of an Airman who remembered one of his presentations at the First Term Airman Center.
“At my farewell from my previous wing, an airman first class came up to me and shared a story,” said Ditore. “He told me, ‘chief, I remember when you came and talked to me at FTAC,’ and then he reminded me of a quote that I had told him and he said, ‘I wrote it down that day and I’ve kept it with me every day because it inspires me and keeps me going.’ That’s why I do this. If I can make an impact on someone’s life and help them get to where they want to be, I’ve done my job.”
Ditore wants the Airmen at Kadena to know he will be there for them.
“One thing I would like everybody to know is that when they see me out and about, I would love nothing more than for them to come up and just say hi,” said Ditore. “Or tell me how their family’s doing and the amazing things they’re doing to make the mission here at Team Kadena happen and if there’s anything I can do for them.”