Leadership Ideas, Information and News

Friday, August 15, 2014

Seminar delivers 'Growth through Knowledge'

by Master Sgt. Minnette Mason
446th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

8/15/2014 - JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash -- More than 150 Airmen of various ranks came together Aug. 7 for a two-day Professional Development Seminar at the American Lake Conference Center at Lewis North.

Themed "Growth through Knowledge," the event focused on current trends that may influence Airmen, both in the reserve and active duty, and their personal and professional progression.

"If you don't know what your strengths are, or your opportunities, you're going to fail," said Daniel Yeomans, Air Force Sergeants Association International president and retired Air Force chief master sergeant.

Yeomans, one of 13 presenters during the seminar, is a lead course developer at Northwest University. He has attained three professional certifications, including Certified Manager of Quality and Organizational Excellence. He provided insight on how to combine personal strengths and opportunities to overcome challenges and, ultimately, be successful.

"When I handed over my Air Force, I wondered what [it] would be like in five years ... 10 years [from now]," Yeomans said.

Fortunately, providing information on modern-day topics in the Air Force was the mission of the other presenters. Mary Goreczny, benefits assistant with the Veterans Administration, clarified the options for Reservists who were interested in education benefits. Chief Master Sergeant Anthony Mack, 446th Airlift Wing command chief, explained the process of submitting a Reserve Enlisted Development Plan. Lastly, Reserve and active duty chief master sergeants synchronously facilitated an open discussion about Total Force Integration.

Chief Master Sergeant David Sanchez, 446th Maintenance Squadron superintendent, demonstrated how Reserve and active duty Airmen intertwine by asking attendees to identify whether they served on active duty, volunteered for deployments, or are strictly part-time Reservists. Roughly 70 percent of the attendees spent time working alongside active-duty Airmen.

"When you think about leadership, think about the person sitting to the right and left of you," said retired Col. Bruce Bowers, former 446th Airlift Wing commander. "When it comes to wearing the uniform, never forget that it is a privilege."

The colonel made an appearance at the seminar two days prior to his retirement ceremony.

"I get the opportunity to retire after 30 years. I feel like that's a 'win-win' for us," he said. Bowers explained the importance of advancing the Air Force by allowing Airmen to progress into senior positions.

The Airmen were also provided opportunities to discuss their concerns regarding the future of the force. During a speed mentoring exercise, roughly 18 senior NCOs rotated around the room to facilitate small group discussions regarding any questions or concerns about their careers.

"The mentors told [us] how to get to the next level; how to get there, where to go, and what to do," said Staff Sgt. John Magno, a knowledge operations specialist with the 446th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

Magno said he felt encouraged, especially when it comes to completing his associate's degree through Community College of the Air Force.

Magno participated in all the exercises that were facilitated during the seminar including a "people puzzle," where participants reflected on their own personalities and temperaments. They learned about four general traits and were divided into respective groups to discuss common behaviors. After the discussion, the groups were debriefed and provided worksheets for note-taking.

"The information we got is not just for the Reserve, but also in my civilian job," Magno added.

"It doesn't matter how good the information is; it matters if you use it or not," said Master Sgt. James Briggs, 446th Military Equal Opportunity superintendent and final presenter at the seminar.

"The goal of an inspiring leader is to cast a vision," he said. "We're all leaders in here, and we need to know why we're doing what we're doing."

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