Leadership News

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Take time to explain ‘why’

By Col. Todd L. Osgood, 379th Expeditionary Medical Group / Published December 31, 2015

AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar (AFNS) -- Good communication is a key element of successful organizations. As leaders, managers, or supervisors, we're sometimes so focused on communicating the what or the how that we fail to explain why the work someone is doing is so important.

Other times, we make decisions that impact work priorities or cause significant change, but don't explain why.

There are many reasons why leaders don't explain why. Explaining why takes time, and some leaders may not think that explaining why is important. Sometimes, leaders assume others understand the why, whether it is how day-to-day tasks relate to the larger mission or a decision the leader has made that causes significant change to the status-quo. Whatever the reason, it's worth taking the time to explain why.

For those who have toddlers, you may notice early in life toddlers begin to ask why a lot. No matter how trivial the task, children want to know why you're doing something or why they should do something they've been asked to do. If you don't do a very good job explaining to them why they should do something, they will usually respond with an emphatic no! As children grow older, their intrigue with their surroundings grows, and they ask why often. As adults, our desire to know why continues, but we're often reluctant to ask. Or, if we know why, we often don't take time to explain why to others.

About a decade ago, I was very fortunate to serve with a commander who ensured his squadron members understood why each person's job was important, and how each person's role was vital to the unit, base and Air Force. It provided each of us with a sense of purpose.

Other times, the commander would make a decision that would cause significant disruption to the status quo. He often met with us in small groups or individually to explain why he made certain decisions. Those that served under his command benefited in several ways. First, by the commander explaining how he reached a certain decision, he provided us with valuable insight into his decision-making process. It was as if he was preparing us to fill his shoes one day. Next, by taking time to explain why, we realized that he cared about us, not just the mission. Finally, by explaining why, even if we didn't agree or like the decision, we could better understand his perspective.

There's more to effective communication than explaining the what and the how. Explaining the why might take more effort, but it can pay big dividends to those you supervise. It can more clearly explain how their role in the organization makes a difference, and offer a greater sense of purpose. As a mentoring tool, it can help folks develop their own decision-making skills to use as their breadth and depth of responsibility grows. When practical, try it out if you haven't already. You may be surprised how many will appreciate it.

Volunteer for the right reasons

By Staff Sgt. Michael Battles, 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs / Published December 30, 2015

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey (AFNS) -- The word "volunteer" is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as "a person who voluntarily undertakes or expresses a willingness to undertake a service."

In a given week, I'm asked three to four times why I volunteer my personal time as much as I do to organizations that are not my primary duty. The answer has and will always be the same, that the organizations I choose to give my time to are my passion, not volunteerism.

In the past year, I have given more than 400 hours of my personal time to organizations across Incirlik Air Base, but never expected awards or recognition for it. The reason being simply, I never saw it as work, but more as fun, laughs and a way to share my knowledge with the community we have built here at Incirlik.

As Winston Churchill once stated, "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."

My advice to any person wanting to give back to the community is to find something that you truly love, and use that as your inspiration. For example, I love working out, so I became a fitness instructor, which not only allows me to work out, but interact and pass on my love of cycling.

There are many ways to get involved at any installation around the Air Force; I just ask that when you get involved do it for yourself, not for a bullet. I know when I enjoy what I'm doing, the level of hard work and enthusiasm shines through. Those traits really are what show the individuals involved that you care.

A lot of my passion comes from a quote that has an unknown author, but has inspired me to go after what truly makes me happy, "Work for a cause, not for applause. Live life to express, not to impress."

Throughout my military career these words have always remained in the back of my mind. Yes, I have received awards and recognition for organizations I've been a part of, but it's not something that should be sought after. Volunteer because you want to make a difference in lives around you, and the rewards will follow.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Developing women Airmen: 156 AW holds first PRANG 'Lean In Circle'

by Tech Sgt. Marizol Ruiz
156th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

12/23/2015 - CAROLINA, Puerto Rico -- Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced in September that the Department of Defense is offering "unconditional" support of "Lean In Circles," peer-to-peer mentoring groups aimed at empowering women and propelling them into leadership roles.

During a recent visit, The National Guard Bureau Diversity office helped kick-off the first "Lean-In Circle" during the December Unit Training Assembly for the Puerto Rico Air National Guard.

156th AW commander Col. Edward L. Vaughan said he invited the NGB team to ensure the most talented personnel continue to move into progressively more responsible leadership roles.

"We are at war, and as a commander I need all our talent to fly, fight, and win," said Vaughan. "Women are a vital part of our Airpower team, and without them, we will lose the fight, because women perform every military and combat function in the Air Force; and they do so brilliantly."

Vaughan pointed out the importance of considering a fully inclusive pool of candidates for senior leadership positions, and said doing so is not an overnight process.

"On the average it takes 20 years or more to grow a colonel or a chief master sergeant in the Air Force, and even longer in the Air National Guard," Vaughan said. "We must start with initial recruiting, Basic Training, and Officer Training School to open our aperture."

Vaughan added that he plans to fully support the wing's new "Lean In Circle" and give more time for women to gather and freely speak about the challenges they face as women in the PRANG. Vaughan is also encouraging male Airmen into the conversation.

The Lean-In visit was hosted by 156th Airlift Wing Captains Angela Feliciano, wing Sexual Assault and Response Coordinator, and Noemi Lopez, base Equal Opportunity Manager. "As a team we will succeed," Capt Feliciano said. "To build that teamwork, we must address barriers to the success of all Airmen head-on."

NGB Diversity director Shirley Raguindin said she was impressed by the commitment and esprit de corps of everyone from the 156 AW she met during her team's Staff Assistance Visit.

"What is clear is that the men and women of the 156 AW are equally dedicated to mission accomplishment," Raguindin said. "The women we met with want to achieve their greatest potential, and leaders here want to ensure there are no barriers to their success, which in turns ensures the unit's success."

The new Lean In chapter has proposed a name reflective of both unit culture and a growing appreciation of diversity. "Las Bucaneras", which is the feminine Spanish equivalent of the unit's "Flying Buccaneers" mascot, was proposed by wing Inspector General Lieutenant Colonel Ileana Ramirez. Said Ramirez, "As American Airmen, we are proud of our Puerto Rican heritage. Adopting the traditional pirate mascot, in a powerful feminine form, is very apropos."

Vaughan concluded he is confident the Airman of the Puerto Rico Air National Guard are paving the way for a diverse Total Force culture that will enable each member of the team to succeed.

"I know they will do it. I am already incredibly proud of all my American Airmen, both women and men," Vaughan said. "It is only by working together that we will achieve greatness."

Monday, December 28, 2015

Oregon Guardsmen learn the importance of public speaking from seasoned veteran

by 1st Lt. Chelsi Spence
142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

12/17/2015 - PORTLAND AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ore. -- Members of the 142nd Fighter Wing spent two days learning speech writing and delivery techniques from an industry expert during a presentation here Dec. 16-17.

Dr. Rosemary King, a former speech writer for Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and two Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke to Airmen about the importance of body language and speech delivery.

"How well you speak matters," said King during the opening remarks for her presentation.

King highlighted six specific areas while preparing for a speech. The first day of training provided information on structure and delivery of speeches.

"The three take-a-ways I want you to remember about structure are to keep it simple, keep it short and keep it easy to follow," King said.

King emphasized the importance of looking natural while giving a speech and suggested the best way to know how you look when giving a speech is to record yourself.  If you are a pacer, put newspaper on the ground while you practice and listen to the crinkling of the paper. That will help you to stop going back and forth, she said.

The second day of training focused on audiences, headlines, storytelling, and slides.  King mentioned the importance of knowing your audience and finding the common ground between you and them.

"The bottom-line when it comes to audiences, your message may not change, but your approach should," said King.

She also emphasized the need for an attention grabbing headline because this is what people remember as they leave.  After a few more tips and tricks, King split the Airman into four groups and had them practice the skills they learned by having them address the group on several different topics including why they serve.

"Dr. King spent two days with us giving us fantastic tools to help us in the public speaking arena," said Col. Paul T. Fitzgerald,142nd Fighter Wing commander.  "Here is an individual who wrote speeches and coached leaders at the highest levels within the Department of Defense and she came to our Wing to share her advice."

King's presentation skills training is the most recent contribution to the Wing's ongoing mentorship program.
"Public speaking is a skill set that we use on a daily basis around here," said Fitzgerald.

"Whether we make comments at a staff meeting or a major presentation, public speaking is an area where even the very best of us have room for improvement.  This is what our mentorship program is all about - helping Airman at all ranks to become the very best leaders in their field."

King is a retired Air Force officer who is also a published author with over 20 years of communications, leadership, and program management experience.  She has 10 years of experience writing speeches for the Secretary of Defense, Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Senators, and CEOs.  During times of war, she has written over 250 speeches a year for the nation's top ranking defense officials.

CGOs hang out with generals at speed mentoring event

by Capt. Kathleen Ice
Air Mobility Command Public Affairs

12/28/2015 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Four generals and a dozen lieutenants and captains exchanged ideas during a "speed mentoring" event Dec. 21, 2015, hosted by the Scott Air Force Base Company Grade Officers Council.

Chairs were positioned in groups of small circles around the room, and every fifteen minutes, three or four CGOs would rotate to the next general's circle for easy conversation.

"I got a lot of good advice," said 1st Lt. Elizabeth Hough, a requirements manager at Air Mobility Command who arrived at Scott AFB in October.  "It was great hearing their four different perspectives and being able to ask questions in a relaxed environment."
For Hough, the most helpful advice came from Brig. Gen. Stacy Hawkins, AMC director of logistics.

"We talked about how to balance family, kids, social and work life," she said.  "He brought up a good point that balance is very important, but you may not have all those things at one time.  You may have to focus on work for a while; and other times you can focus on family.  It's about realizing that everything has its own timing."

Each CGO asked the generals questions.  One asked AMC Commander Gen. Carlton Everhart about managing organizational change.

As a large military organization, the Air Force has a lot of momentum and can be resistant to change, said Capt. Dolan, 375th Civil Engineer Squadron engineering flight deputy.  "How do you get that big momentum to start shifting?"

The AMC commander suggested Dolan read about different philosophies of change management now, early in his career, because he likely won't learn about it in professional development until he pins on colonel.

"The bottom line is answering the 'WIFM', or 'what's in it for me?'" Everhart said.  "Communicate the way you want people to go.  If they understand what's in it for them and that it's a better direction, you can get their buy-in.  Then they'll tell two friends, and those people will tell two friends, and things start to happen.

Trust is an important currency when it comes to leading large organizations, said Brig. Gen. Randall Reed, deputy director of AMC Strategic Plans, Requirements and Programs.

As soon as the next rotating group sat down in his circle, Reed tossed a worn, brown leather wallet into someone's lap.

The general said he's been using the wallet most of his career and never worries if he accidentally leaves it behind, because he trusts who he's with.

"I don't think I can do that in many places," Reed said to laughter.  "We're part of something special because of one thing: trust."

"I need you to become the individual leaders that we can trust," said the general.  "Build organizations that people can trust.  That's the air force that I have grown up in and love.

As a junior officer, tactical skill will give you credibility and carry you for a while, he said; but as you progress through the ranks, your leadership effectiveness becomes more and more about reputation.

"Once you have that trust, guard it fiercely," Reed said.
Many generals reminded the lieutenants to first focus on learning and becoming good at their jobs.

As a brand-new lieutenant at his first flying squadron, 18th Air Force Commander Lt. Gen. Sam Cox said he remembered how his C-141 squadron used dots on name tags at the scheduling desk to reflect crew qualifications.

There were only three pilots that had accrued 16 dots, and they were qualified in every mission of the C-141 and the most respected in the squadron.

"I learned early on that's what I wanted," Cox said.  "Not to have bling on a nametag, but be the best I could be. "Do the mission and have fun.  Be positive about what you get to do."

The Scott CGOC received positive feedback from its first speed mentoring event in June with several colonels, so Capt. Laura Sturdevant organized this event with general officers.

She will permanently change stations next month, but there are tentative plans to offer speed mentoring quarterly or semiannually, perhaps inviting chiefs as well as newly pinned field grade officers with promotion board tips.

"Hopefully it will outlast me,"Sturdevant said.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Leadership course provides N.C. Guardsmen pathways to success

by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran
145th airlift Wing Public Affairs

12/16/2015 - CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Airmen and Soldiers from the North Carolina National Guard were given an opportunity to enhance their professional development by attending training held at the North Carolina Air National Guard Base, Charlotte Douglas International Airport, Dec. 11.

Two courses, Four Lenses & Enhancing Human Capital training was offered to technical sergeants through chief master sergeants.

Over 100 Airmen and 10 Soldiers from around the state attended the course with N.C. State Command Chief Master Sgt. Maurice Williams and N.C. State Diversity Coordinator, Chief Master Sgt. Salvatore Pecorella leading the way.

The Four Lenses course is an assessment tool designed to help participants discover individual personality styles, preferences and what motivates them. The principles learned in this course empower participants to better understand and work with individuals of different personality types by opening lines of communication and reducing personal misunderstandings.

By utilizing hands-on practical assessments, participants learn a better way to understand why people think, feel and act the way they do. This in turn will aid in learning better ways to interact with different personalities.

"It's not about you, it's about everybody. It's finding ways that will make your team high performers and being able to bring every individual to their full potential." said Pecorella.

Lt. Col. Kevin Basik, Air Force representative to the Secretary of Defense for Military Professionalism, traveled from Washington D.C. to talk with these guardsmen about better ways to interact both as a fellow airman/soldier and supervisor.

"Understanding how to communicate with Airmen is one way to be a successful leader," said Basik.

Each person completes a personality assessment. This assessment pinpoints a primary temperament which is color-coded as gold, green, blue and orange. After completing the color assessment, participants are divided into their color groups to complete an exercise designed to identify their common traits, which are then compared with the traits belonging to the other color groups.

"We all have a blend of each color, however each of us has one primary color that describes our values, shows the things that really motivate us and what sets us off," said Pecorella.

The Four Lenses course is about learning to adapt one's color-style with others and helps each individual to remain flexible and better able to compromise and reach solutions. This will result in achieving mission goals and conflict resolution that will help each person in their professional and personal lives.

Understanding why humans make decisions and how perceptions drive decisions is a vital requirement for leaders. The Enhancing Human Capital presentation deliberately offers and examines how professionalism is the bridge that connects our Core Values to the overall Air Force mission.

"It's the Airmen who accomplish the mission. There's a psychology associated with inspiring, engaging and elevating Airmen. This is an opportunity for us to focus on what connects with people, what moves people to action, and what helps leaders accomplish the mission. It is only through people that commanders can pull off a successful mission," stated Basik.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Airmen become resilience 'warriors', better leaders

by Candy Knight
Air Mobility Command

12/21/2015 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- On the path to self-improvement, people often cite variations of the quote "it's not the destination that matters, but the journey."

For the Airmen who recently ascended to the "Warrior" tier of the Leadership Pathways (LP) initiative, the lessons learned along the way about becoming more resilient meant more to them than reaching Warrior status. 

"Earning Warrior-status is an honor," said Staff Sgt. Jahmel Sargent, 60th Aerial Port Squadron, Passenger Operations Supervisor at Travis Air Force Base, Calif.

"Honestly, reaching the Warrior-tier was initially my goal when I started the program. Along the way it became more about how much more information, techniques, and advice I gained and brought back to the workcenter."

Individuals participating in Leadership Pathways earn credits based on completion of a class, workshop, seminar, or event related to increasing personal resilience.

Air Mobility Command implements a three-tiered status based on course credits earned. Individuals are awarded Wingman status, upon achieving 10 LP credits; Leader upon achieving 20 LP credits and Warrior upon achieving 30 LP credits.

"It took a lot of dedication to stick with LP," Sargent said. "Seeing it all the way through puts you in an elite group of Airmen who strive to be better leaders today for tomorrow's Airmen. Every time I took a class, I'd go back to work, and tell everyone how the class has helped me personally and professionally. I've actually gotten quite a few Airmen to sign up for classes."

Airmen reaching the Warrior-tier may also receive additionally recognition. However, the additional recognition doesn't compare to the self-improvement benefits they received from the overall LP experience, they said. 

"LP fosters collaboration and offers Airmen an opportunity to learn how to take care of themselves and others," said Ivera Harris, Air Mobility Command's community support program manager. "Life is not always easy, and not everyone gets a trophy. But Airmen are taught skills to assist them in making good choices.  It is not just one thing or one person, but everything and everyone working together to foster a resilient culture."

Since the initiative began in 2012, AMC numbers have steadily increased.

"We have seen class attendance go from a baseline of 32 thousand in 2012 to about 70 thousand in 2015," Harris said. "We are excited about LP and its possibilities. It is a team effort, and we have some great teams out there."

Tech. Sgt. Kristine M. Gamilla, 321st Air Mobility Operations Squadron's commander's support staff NCOIC at Travis, said the abundance of courses to choose from amazed her.

"I enjoy reading self-help books and attending self-improvement classes. Any course I can take to further develop me and the people around me helps out the entire Air Force. As many of us know, we cannot change others unless they want to change themselves. So as a leader, I took advantage of what I learned from these courses and exercised them by making changes in myself."

Sargent stated another reason he began the program was he felt the courses would give him a different perspective on the type of leader he could become.

"One of many things I gained from LP was learning about yourself first," he said. "I've had bad leaders in my past. I chose the courses I did because I personally wanted to know how I could become a well-rounded leader and get some information out to those that needed it. Knowing what type of leader you are currently and what type of leader you want to be go hand-and-hand."

Both Gamilla and Sargent said that reaching Warrior status took dedication and persistence, and they're grateful for the recognition. However, they don't intend to stop there.

"I am honored to receive the Warrior status," Gamilla said. "The different base agencies here at Travis continue to offer new and developmental classes. I will continue my self-development journey and encourage others to sign up for classes with me. It's always more fun attending classes with friends and coworkers."

"I hope LP gets more recognition across the Air Force," Sargent said. "I've talked to my friends: many of them have no idea about LP and what the program offers and how to take advantage of the phenomenal courses. After I explain to them, they're interested. Maybe there should be an Air Force-level award to keep pushing after 'Warrior' level."

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Largest group of students graduates from PME Center

by Airman Valerie Monroy
JBER Public Affairs

12/18/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENODRF-RICHARDSON, Alaksa -- The Joint-Base Elmendorf-Richardson Professional Military Education Center is responsible for developing excellence in future leaders throughout the Air Force.

On Dec. 18th, the largest Airman Leadership School class the PME Center has ever taught will graduate.

The PME Center has changed their construct to now operate an ALS course every other class, said Senior Master Sgt. Joshua Buck, 673d Air Base Wing director of education.

"We'll run a Noncommissioned Officer Academy class, followed by an ALS class, on an alternating schedule," Buck said.

Because the NCOA and ALS classes no longer run concurrently, the number of students waiting for an ALS class to begin has grown.

"What that's allowed us to do is to fill all seven classrooms with 16 students in each class," Buck said. "We've never run a seven-flight ALS class here before."

Due to the class size, instructors have had to work together and communicate more than ever.

"This class has definitely been unique," said Tech. Sgt. Sedrick Evans, 673d ABW PME instructor. "I feel that the way we've handled our first 112-person course has definitely set the tone for how ALS could run in the future."

Despite the large numbers, students still received the same amount of education and training.

"It's a really big class but we're all separated into different flights," said Senior Airman Samantha Valencia, 673d Dental Squadron dental technician. "Even though there [are] a bunch of people, you're still getting the individualized attention."

The instructors haven't left anyone behind, Valencia continued.

"Like they keep saying, its 112 in, its 112 out," Valencia said. "We've all succeeded because they've done such a good job."

In the midst of these challenges, the PME Center has gone through a fast turnover of instructors and also made sure their instructors were prepared to teach the course.

"Within the last eight months we've turned over about two-thirds of the staff," Buck said. "Within these seven classrooms, I have four trainee instructors getting certified. We have a lot of moving parts right now with the training of the new instructors and the training of the students as well," Buck said.

The PME has also sent a number of their instructors to Korea.

"Instructors from all over Pacific Air Force rotate because we don't have a dedicated staff in Korea," Buck said.

The instructors are sent there to help many Airmen get the professional development they need, Buck explained.

The PME Center added another first to their list when an instructor received his training in Korea.

Instructors get their certification training while teaching an ALS class. The PME Center decided to send the instructor to Korea in an effort to both help with the many students and provide the instructor with certification training.

"PACAF allowed us to send an extra instructor to Korea so he could do his certification training there," Buck said. "That had never been done before."

"We'll be sending three instructors in January to teach three flights, and when they come home we'll send three more instructors out." Buck said. "The first four months of the year we'll teach six flights of ALS in Korea."

Whether it's the largest ALS class, training instructors or teaching in Korea, the JBER PME Center continues to develop leadership skills in PACAF's warfighting Airmen.

"As our new motto states, 'In to learn, out to serve,'" Evans said.