Serve and lead

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kaitlyn J. Ergish
  • 355th Wing Public Affairs

Life is never easy, but because of the hardships U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Cedric Foster has experienced during his career, he’s cultivated an overwhelming passion for developing Airmen and the Air Force.

This passion has been his ultimate motive throughout his rank progression, career development as a servant leader and current leadership position as the 355th Mission Support Group superintendent at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.

“I’m not locked into an Air Force specialty code as a chief,” said Foster. “I’m locked into Airmen. They are my motivation because there is no E-10. I don’t get quarterly awards. I don’t get any recognition. My recognition is when Airmen get recognized.”

Foster explained how going through extremely hard experiences has molded him into the Airman and leader he is today.

“What came out of my hardships was that I wanted to be a better supervisor, better section leader, better Senior Master Sgt. and ultimately a better chief,” said Foster. “Those hard things are what drove me to be successful.”

Becoming a Chief means joining the top one percent of enlisted personnel in the entire Air Force. A chief’s responsibility is to ensure their Airmen are equipped to complete the mission to the best of their ability. It takes hard work and dedication.

“I think his willingness to be humble and to follow is what makes him a great leader,” said Chief Master Sgt. James Lyda, 355th Wing command chief. “He knows how to take charge but also be up front whenever the situation calls for it. He’s never stopped learning. He’s asking questions, trying to be better and always has someone else’s best interest at heart.”

As a result of the adversity he went through in his personal and work life, Foster has learned to cultivate a servant leadership attitude and is determined to create work settings Airmen can thrive in.

“What I can’t control is what’s going on at home,” said Foster. “The one place my Airmen can come to feel safe is the work center. Since I was in a bad work situation and a very depressed state, I promised myself that I would create environments of consistency that are safe, inclusive and productive. I never want an Airman to feel the way I felt.”

He is sincerely devoted to his Airmen and sets an example of selfless leadership on a daily basis.

“We are never truly happy unless we are serving someone else and Chief Foster is happy a lot,” said Lyda. “He is always serving somebody else and that is what makes him a good leader.”

Without those tough situations, Foster would not be the person he is today. The struggles he has endured gives him the ability to continue to grow in his personal life, into a selfless leader and makes his focus remain on others and their ability to complete the mission.