Leadership Ideas, Information and News

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Chiefs hone skills in leadership course

by Staff Sgt. Ryan Crane

2/4/2015 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- Fifty-five chief master sergeant selects from around U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa came together to share ideas and engage in discussion during the week-long Chiefs' Leadership Course at Ramstein Air Base, Germany Jan. 26-30.

Making the transition from senior master sergeant to chief is more than an extra stripe and a pay raise, and this course is designed to prepare them for that step.
The course opened with congratulations from Chief Master Sgt. James E. Davis, USAFE-AFAFRICA command chief.

"There were 479 senior master sergeants notified of promotion out of the more than 2500 eligible," Davis said. "Fifty-five of you all are here this morning, and you deserve to be here. And guess what? There are no tests. No awards. The benefit is you walking away more enriched than when you came in."

The course focused on the many changes that will occur in the careers of the new chiefs.

"You are going to find that people tend to gravitate toward you," Davis said "and they are going to want to know what you know. And you have to make sure you are caught up with the most current events."

Senior Master Sgt. Daniel Tester, 1st Combat Communications Squadron, explained that the course offered them a perspective that is invaluable to their development as chiefs.

"Attending a course like this gives us an opportunity to get critical insight from senior leaders who have experienced the challenges the new position will bring," said Tester.

While the course offers the attendees a chance to exchange ideas and learn from senior leaders, it is only a stepping stone to success according to Tester.

"No course will give you all the answers and prepare you for every situation you may face," Tester explained. "However, this course certainly provided the information that will help you make better decisions for your people and organization."

Senior Master Sgt. Quinton Burris, Armed Forces Network Aviano, walked away with a piece of information that was new to him, even as a Chief select.

"Identifying one part as most beneficial is tough," said Burris, "but something that truly resonated with me is the difference between information, understanding and knowledge. Information is great but is available to all. Understanding is the coupling of information with a personal or tangible experience. And knowledge, well that is the holy grail of it all that melds the information and understanding into wisdom, which is developed through time, perseverance and humility."

Many of the chief selects work in units where their direct supervisor is a field grade officer. So to attendees, like Tester, the chance to interact with general officers and command chiefs was the biggest benefit of the course.

"You can read about leadership in a book or get information from Power Point slides all day," Tester said, "but that will never replace real life experience.  Hearing their perspective and how they dealt with situations during their careers will help me make better decisions down the road."

Most importantly though, the course taught them how to be a better Airman and a chief you can look up to.

"Being a chief means that your work has just begun," said Burris. "It means I have a debt to pay. I have  to pay it forward."

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