Leadership Ideas, Information and News

Friday, January 31, 2014

Face of Defense: Air Force School Hones Leadership Skills

By Air Force Airman 1st Class Levin Boland
97th Air Mobility Wing

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla., Jan. 31, 2014 – Every airman is a leader, whether they lead by example as a peer or in a formal duty position.

Leadership is taught to each airman from the time they enter the Air Force. As junior enlisted airmen begin moving into the noncommissioned officer ranks, they are expected to become more effective leaders.

This starts in Airman Leadership School where the mission is to “prepare senior airmen to be professional warfighting airmen who can supervise and lead Air Force work teams to support the employment of Air, Space and Cyberspace.”

The leadership school here shapes more than 100 active duty, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard airmen into leaders every year from military installations across the country.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Phillip Ryan, 97th Force Support Squadron ALS instructor, has taught more than 25 classes so far.

“I have been an instructor for three and a half years and it’s honestly one of my favorite jobs in the Air Force,” Ryan said.”

During the five-week course, the students learn a variety of leadership skills such as counseling airmen, writing enlisted performance reports, marching troops and giving speeches.

“It has been a really good experience,” said Air Force Senior Airman Sushil Torres, who traveled from Vance Air Force Base, Okla., to attend the leadership school here.

“It’s really great to be able to talk to my classmates to get their perspectives on different things and experiences,” Torres added. “The pace has been pretty hectic, but because we work together and make sure we stay on top of each other to get things done, it has made it a lot easier.”

Torres and other students from class 14-B are scheduled to graduate on Feb. 7, 2014.

“You learn all this information but it’s not enough to just know it anymore, you have to know how to apply it to different situations and there are always variables to consider as a supervisor when you are dealing with your airmen,” Torres said.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Mission Spotlight: ALS instructors pay it forward

by Senior Airman Briana Jones
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

1/29/2014 - AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- Airmen Leadership School, NCO Academy and Senior NCO Academy are all designed to better prepare Airmen to lead, teach and inspire Airmen of their own.

It all starts with ALS - a five-week class that tests the minds of future supervisors and arms them with the tools needed to succeed as a leader.

Approximately 40 students spend 24 academic days and 192 academic hours marching, studying, testing and learning, all in an effort to better themselves mentally and emotionally so one day they can be what the Air Force needs: great supervisors.

At Aviano, five ALS instructors, along with the commandant, dedicate their time and energy into teaching these Airmen and encouraging them to be future Air Force leaders. When the academic day is done, instructors continue to devote their time going over lesson plans, grading homework, scheduling physical training sessions and helping Airmen understand the lesson material.

"I couldn't be more honored to be in the position to be the one to help my students make the transition from Airmen to NCO," said Staff Sgt. Amanda Arndt, 31st Force Support Squadron ALS instructor. "I am not teaching my students how to be supervisors, but how to be leaders and how to communicate effectively - not only to each other, but their own leadership and future troops."

ALS provides foundational leadership and interpersonal skills, and focuses a majority of the instruction on Air Force rules and regulations.

As the top senior enlisted leader of ALS, the commandant directs the overall and day-to-day operations of the school in accordance with The Barnes Center for Enlisted Education. The commandant not only serves to guide students, but the teachers as well, helping everyone establish and achieve a pattern of success.

"The best part of my job is knowing that I have the best instructors I could ask for, they make my job easier," said Master Sgt. Jose Negron, 31st Force Support Squadron ALS commandant. "Watching the transformation that occurs in these students from the very first day to the very last is the best part for me, just knowing that they are ready to become supervisors."

At the end of the course students have to take a variety of tests including a formative test, a summative evaluation on march and drill to determine their eligibility to graduate. A variety of awards such as the John Levitow Award, Commandant Leadership Award, Distinguished Graduate and Academic Achievement rewards students for their hard work and determination.

During ALS Airmen are students, but the day they graduate they are another step closer to being leaders, supervisors, innovators and above all else - NCOs.

"The one thing that will stay with me throughout my military career will be the basic principles of leadership, that's the one thing that will never change," said Senior Airman Daniel Moore, 31st Security Forces Squadron security response member and ALS student.
"ALS is not just a class about leadership, it also teaches us more about how people communicate and that is the key to being in a leadership role and I for one am grateful for the chance to learn how to do that."

3rd AF top enlisted leader identifies key leadership characteristics

by Airman 1st Class Ryan Conroy
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

1/29/2014 - AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy  -- Chief Master Sgt. Mark Marson, 3rd Air Force Command Chief, spoke with enlisted Airmen, stressing key leadership characteristics during his visit here, Jan. 24-25.

Marson visited with Aviano Airmen, applauding their efforts during financially troubling times and providing guidance on management through personal recollections.

Throughout the day, the 3rd AF top enlisted member met with Aviano NCOs and Senior NCOs, an Airman Leadership School class and spoke during a chief recognition ceremony.

Marson preached a common theme to each group of Airmen, which associated the Air Force way of life to common sports euphemisms.

"We're like a baseball team," said Marson. "Right now, everyone is on the team, we're all professionals. But, some players get paid more and some are used more often than others. Not everyone can be the pitcher, but it's vital everyone works together to be successful. Who's willing to work hard enough to stay and become a franchise player? Everyone needs to get in their lane and figure out what position they play so we can remain the world's greatest Air Force."

To stay on the team during present times of force management, Marson introduced several significant characteristics found in every leader. These qualities included exceptional fitness, strategic communication, resiliency, critical thinking and mentorship.

"You have to be that standout, charismatic, standup Airman with a ready-to-serve attitude, not ready to be served," Marson added.

Marson suggested that most problems within the ranks could be solved with an intrusive leadership ideology.

"You can solve 75 percent of problems--suicide, sexual assault, financial instability --with great leadership," said Marson. "We need bold leaders who lead from ahead, be invasive and talk to your Airmen consistently."

In regards to fitness, Marson stressed a combat-readiness mentality for supervisors, to further take care of wingmen in the height of conflict.

"If one of you are injured and need someone to carry you out of harm's way, I will be there for you," said Marson. "I expect you to be there for me as well, to have the physical capability to get me out of danger."

The command chief, in turn, emphasized that Airmen who lack in certain core areas should be working on their weaknesses. When addressing the group future NCO attending ALS, Marson quoted former Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force, Sam Parish.

"Always reserve the right to return another day," said Marson. "Envision your personal standards as railroad ties and one tie is physical fitness, one is education, one is work ethic, etcetera. Your discipline is the rail. You have to ensure those rails stay straight for your Airmen.

"If you struggle on one of your standards, or feel like one is less important than the other, now is the time to change that, before it's too late," added Marson. "You need to respect the fact that Airmen emulate their supervision, be a model of your values."

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Face of Defense: Marine Masters Quiet Leadership

By Marine Corps 2nd Lt. Danielle Dixon
Black Sea Rotational Force

MIHAIL KOGALNICEANU, Romania, Jan. 14, 2014 – In a profession dominated by boisterous personalities, command presence and aggressive confidence, it’s hard to imagine a quiet and patient leader.

In a fast-paced and chaotic training environment, credit is not always given to the Marine who forms the ranks, defines the standard and presses forward with excellence and no complaint.

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Glenn Schroeder, a rifleman with Black Sea Rotational Force 14, has been in the Marine Corps for less than two years. Those around him say that while his experiences have been limited, they already have shaped who he is as a both leader and a peer, instilling humble and introspective leadership traits that are hard to teach.

Marine Corps Sgt. Nicholas Zablonski, Schroeder’s squad leader, has been alongside Schroeder for the entirety of the deployment.

“His leadership styles are still developing into his own, but I would say knowing himself and always seeking self-improvement is a leadership style I have seen him develop more throughout this deployment than his peers,” the sergeant said.

Schroeder’s platoon leaders agree. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. David Dahl, first platoon commander, and Marine Corps Sgt. Donnell Watkins, Schroeder’s platoon sergeant, spoke about Schroeder’s self-discipline and his potential as a future leader.

“He doesn’t say much, but he is one of the hardest workers I have,” Dahl said. “He devotes his liberty time to physical training, which surpasses unit training in difficulty.”

Watkins cited Schroeder’s motivation, dependability and work ethic as a teammate within his fire team as examples of how he outperforms his peers and junior Marines. “He shows an extraordinary ability to be flexible working out of his military occupational specialty,” he said. “He demonstrates a strong desire to develop himself throughout this deployment.”

Watkins added that Schroeder usually is the first to volunteer for any tasks and never complains.

Schroeder said he simply tries to look at everything with a positive approach. “I try and look at things if I was a sergeant or a corporal,” he said. “Attention to detail is a big thing. It may seem insignificant, but normally there is a bigger picture that we don’t always see on [the junior Marine] level.”

Thursday, January 09, 2014

‘No Room for Error,’ Hagel Tells Troops

By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 9, 2014 – The nation depends on the professionalism of service members like the airmen of the 90th Missile Wing at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said today on a visit to the base.

“We have all the great technology in the world -- and we have better technology than anyone -- and we are the strongest country on Earth ... but it takes people, it takes leadership, it takes commitment,” Hagel told the airmen.

Through investments in modernization and by focusing on reducing the nuclear stockpile under the START II treaty, the United States is demonstrating its commitment to maintaining a capable and safe nuclear deterrent, he said.

“It's clearly in our national security interests,” Hagel said.

“And as I had an opportunity to view some of this today to get down really where the operational dynamics are real, and not just theory or in PowerPoint presentations, but it's clear that we've got some work to do on modernization,” the defense secretary said.

Hagel told the airmen that the American people have great confidence in their ability to perform under extraordinary conditions.

“You've also chosen a profession where there's no room for error. In what you do every day, there is no room for error, none,” he said.

Under such conditions, Hagel said, it’s important to constantly hone and develop personal, professional and institutional skills. Because even though the nation doesn’t go to war every day, the defense secretary said, “every day we help prevent war. That’s what we are about. And we do that better than anyone else.”

“How you do the job is really as important as the job itself, because it sets a standard of expectation for yourselves and for everybody around you,” Hagel said. “You're all leaders. You're all role models. And that's a heavy burden to carry.”

The defense secretary was on the final stop of a two-day trip to bases in Wyoming, Nebraska, New Mexico and Texas.

Friday, January 03, 2014

First Sergeants are here to help

by Airman 1st Class Alexander Guerrero
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

1/3/2014 - DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Some Airmen need help or direction that is beyond what their immediate supervisor can provide. When a situation like this arises, there is one person in particular an Airman can go to.

The first sergeant, also referred to as "first shirt", wears a diamond in the middle of their rank for a reason.

"Typically, shirts are pretty experienced and tend to be pretty solid senior NCOs with a lot of experience," said Master Sgt. Brandy Wess, 7th Operations Group first sergeant. "Our job is the health, morale and welfare of our people, so anytime someone is having a problem and their first line supervisor doesn't know how to help, the first sergeant will."

First sergeants can assist Airmen in a number of ways. They usually have many resources available to them acquired through their years of networking as well as sound advice built up during their life and career. These can be the biggest assets to an Airman needing assistance.

"First sergeants can spend the whole day talking with people, building rapport with different agencies getting to know who point of contacts and subject matter experts are so that when an Airman comes to us with an issue, we know exactly who can help them, so then we can refer them appropriately," Wess said.

As Airmen and wingmen, we should all be looking out for and helping one another, but first sergeants specialize in this. There are certain character traits that separate first shirts from other senior NCOs.

"You have to be very organized because the part of our job that a lot of people don't see is the administrative side," Wess said. "On top of that, you still have to be passionate and empathetic when someone comes to you with an issue. Sometimes even if I think its minor, to that person it's not. To that person it's the biggest thing bugging them and distracting them from completing the mission."

Airmen aren't the only ones who benefit from a first sergeant's guidance. Even spouses can go to the shirts should they have an issue that needs addressing.

"In my unit, spouses get an equal amount of help as our Airmen, and if a spouse has a problem, I'm going to do everything I can to help," Wess said. "One way we do that is to stay engaged with our Key Spouse Program. Whenever my squadrons have key spouse programs, I like to attend and mingle with the spouses. It's important that I get to know them so that they know I'm there to help."

When asked, many shirts will say their job is their people. Between Airmen and their spouses, first sergeants are the cornerstones of a unit, providing relief for any problems that are presented to them. This help is for anybody, not just those assigned to their particular unit. A first sergeant's advice is available to anyone looking for it.

"My personal motto is, 'I'm everyone's first sergeant,'" Wess said. "If I come across an Airman having a hard time, I don't care where that Airman works, if they are in my unit or what rank they are wearing, I'm going to stop and ask if they are okay. I don't mind asking the hard personal questions that may dig into their business a little bit because if it helps them out, then it's worth it."