I know in the Marines a GySgt (E-7) was the one that everyone looked up to and in the Air Force a MSgt (E-7) was pretty much the same. Both are the main buffers between the lower ranks and the 'upper management'. Both positions (if held by individuals that keep their 'charges' in line and look out for their well-being) are held with respect from those junior to them. Of course, this is just from my own observations through the years.
I would have to say SGT. That is really and truly where the rubber meets the road. You had direct impact on your own slice of the world and if you did it right you were the best to your Soldiers.
I can tell you my Squad Leader (CPL) was very influential to me but I am sure a lot of that was because I spent 80% of my waking hours with him training and then training some more until he was happy then train a little more.
I also looked up to my 1SG a lot. That was the rank where you got to see a senior NCO work hand in hand with the Commander and build a viable machine that accomplished all tasks with above standard results.
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