Leadership Ideas, Information and News

Monday, December 28, 2015

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.

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