By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterAugust 25, 2016
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Fort Rucker's new command sergeant major has a simple philosophy when it comes to leadership: if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
"I sit back and I observe, and I allow people to just do their thing," said Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher Spivey, who assumed his current duties Aug. 2. "I'm not going to jump in and make changes midstride. If I see something that's not working, then I'll talk about it. But I'm a firm believer in if it works, there's no sense in reinventing the wagon wheel.
"My goals on Fort Rucker are just like anywhere any leader goes and hopes to accomplish -- I want to make the place I am better than it was when I got here," said Spivey. "My predecessor had a lot of great systems in place, and there won't be a whole lot of changes coming from me when it comes to dealing with the local communities because he built an amazing relationship with all the communities and Fort Rucker."
It's that partnership with communities that contributes to an organization's success, said Spivey.
"In this type of environment, you've got to have your partners and you've got to work well with them," he said. "You establish that working relationship with your partners and that teamwork will stem from that and we'll be able to get everything accomplished."
Spivey, who comes from a long line of military family members, including his father who spent 33 years in the Army, is all-too familiar with what it's like growing up on a military installation, and knows firsthand the importance of quality of life for Soldiers and their families.
"We always say in the Army, mission first, Soldiers always," said the command sergeant major. "You can't accomplish one without the other. If you don't take care of the Soldiers, then the mission is not going to get done, and the mission isn't going to get done without the Soldier. "Both of them are equally important as far as I'm concerned, and as long as a Soldier knows that he or she and their family is taken care of, they'll do whatever is asked of them," he said. "The ultimate goal is to take care of the Soldiers, their families and the communities, and the mission is going to happen, regardless."
The importance of that connection and the role of garrison operations in that wasn't something that Spivey said he often thought about until he became a squadron sergeant major in Vilseck, Germany.
"I never really paid attention to it because, as an operations sergeant major, first sergeant and platoon sergeant, I wasn't really concerned about what the garrison does because that was above my pay grade and I focused what I had positive control over," he said. "My experience as a squadron sergeant major with garrison and having my weekly meetings with the garrison command, I was able to actually see a lot of what (the garrison) does, and it was a lot more than what I thought.
"The garrison has their hands in a lot more than I ever imagined they would," he continued. "There is so much going on and so much that's keeping me busy -- and that's just the way I like it. If everything is going right, you don't notice it."
Spivey said one big thing about him is that he is a hands-on learner, and he makes sure to get out into the community to get to know his garrison, and during his time here, he's been doing just that.
"I've been standing with the gate guards in the mornings just to get to know what it is that they do and observe," he said.
He's also planning a ride-along with one of the civilian police officers, will be visiting the kennels to don a bite suit to experience what the handlers go through, as well as visiting the fire station to go through their burn building.
"I just want to see what they all do," said the command sergeant major. "If I'm going to be asked about and somewhat held responsible for the actions of Soldiers on this post, then I need to know what they do. I won't have a full understanding unless I do it, as well."
Spivey said that during his time here he wants to get to know the installation, and that includes the Soldiers and families on it.
"I'm always out and going places, and I'm always trying to get around to meet Soldiers and everyone else, so if they see me, walk up and talk to me -- I'm a very approachable guy," he said. "If they have an issue, tell me. I have no problem stopping whatever I'm doing, whether it's a Saturday or Sunday, or even at the mall. They can stop me and voice their opinion, and I'll listen and bring it up to the appropriate people."