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Finance Award Winner Leads by Example

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Patrick Boyle
  • 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

"The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things." - Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the United States, and former U.S. Army Reserve Captain.

Master Sgt. Jackie W. Summers, 35th CPTS senior enlisted leader, grew up working on a farm pitching watermelons. Summers’ time on the farm helped him develop a strong work ethic in his early life that he continually displays through his work in the Air Force.

This work ethic and his skills as an effective leader led Summers to earning the Pacific Air Forces Finical Management Chief Master Sgt. Larry P. Gonzales Senior Enlisted Leader of the Year Award recently. Summers served as the flight chief of the Financial Analysis Flight while also fulfilling the duties of the 35th Comptroller Squadron senior enlisted leader and non-appropriated funds analyst during a change in leadership. To help maintain operations, he focused on implementing current and future strategies to better equip the unit.

Despite his great accomplishments and work ethic, Summers attributes a lot of why he received the award to the success of his team, who worked diligently and effectively during a time of change in leadership throughout this year.

“It’s the team that earned it—I owe everything to them,” said Summers. “They do all the cooking; I just add the sauce.”

Summers recognizes the fact that a leader who simply commands, rather than leading by example and paying attention to those under their supervision, won’t make it very far. He has had mentors in the past that instilled leadership principles and qualities that continue to make him an effective leader his Airmen can look up to.

“People are priority,” expressed Summers. “When someone walks into my office, I try to stop what I’m doing and have a conversation. I put in extra time for our team’s awards, evaluations, decorations, etcetera because I know it will matter to them.”

Summers is a leader who not only accomplishes his goals despite unexpected obstacles, but he also does all he can to bring out the best in his Airmen to see them succeed in life. Effective mentoring isn’t simply praising someone when they do well, it requires a leader to honestly assess the quality of a subordinate’s work. Someone can’t be expected to grow if their shortcomings aren’t honestly assessed. Summers believes someone should be proud to stand behind their work, letting it speak for itself. He believes that seeing his Airmen achieve greater heights make for the most rewarding moments in his career.

“This is your legacy, this is your impact, your name is on the mailbox. Everyone is different, everyone was raised differently, everyone is motivated by different things, and I owe it to them to figure out what it is. Transparent and honest feedback is the only way we get better.”
said MSgt. Summers

The qualities of an effective leader aren’t inherent, it takes a leader to act as a mentor and instill such qualities. Summers has had a great deal of mentors that took time to guide him down the right path, ensuring he’d in turn follow in their footsteps. They taught him how a senior enlisted leader and flight chief should act, whether that be accomplishing the tasks set before him, or nurturing those he’d been assigned to lead.

“I’ve had great mentors,” said Summers. “We take pride in our job. I get to see our team help someone with a pay issue or buy something a unit needs, seeing how it directly impacts Airmen.”

It isn’t just those under Summers’s supervision that help him achieve his goals and act as an ideal leader, he places great importance on family. A support structure at home helps leaders strive for all they can be with constant support and encouragement.

“I owe my wife Monique and my daughters Nia and Stormi a huge thank you,” said Summers. “Monique has been my sounding board and number one mentor. They’re my world and I love them more I can express. They keep me on my toes and humble me every single day.”

Summers has proven himself as a more than capable leader on several occasions, not only having earned the Chief Master Sgt. Larry P. Gonzales Senior Enlisted Leader of the Year Award, but also having earned the Senior Non-Commissioned Officer Secretary of the Air Force Financial Management award last year and the under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) Financial Management Workforce Development award earlier this year. His history as a leader is a testament to what a leader can achieve. Leading by example and nurturing those under his supervision has led him to where he is now and will further him down the path of success.

“We continuously think about what Misawa needs from us and how can we be better,” said Summers. “I make sure that we have the right people for the job and that they have the tools and resources they need to make it happen.”