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Developing leaders need mentorship

(Courtesy Photo)

(Courtesy Photo)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Most of us at one time in our careers have used or heard the phrase "above my pay grade" or "I don't get paid to make that call." In some instances this might be true. In most, however, it is a failure by Airmen to seize an opportunity to lead, not because they are lazy but because they do not have the toolsets needed to lead. Today, more than ever, we are relying on our junior Airmen to take on the leadership roles once filled by senior enlisted and/or officers.

Leadership is the cornerstone of a successful unit. Whether a unit consists of three or three hundred personnel, the effectiveness of its leader will determine the success of that unit and its mission.

Where do our Air Force leaders come from? Are they the natural-born leaders or are they mentored and molded as their careers unfold? The answer lives in the second part of that question. The Air Force does not recruit leaders-they recruit young men and women to fill Air Force needs to accomplish the mission.

So does the Air Force hope and gamble that some among the thousands recruited are natural-born leaders ready to take the reins of command? Where do we find these new leaders?

We make them.

To ensure the Air Force has leaders in these lean times ahead we need to mold the Airmen we have today. Too many times we miss opportunities to teach and mentor our young troops on what it means to lead and how to lead. Many leaders have lost the skills and motivation to mentor young Airmen, because they believe doing the mission is more important than taking the time to teach.

In my career I have been lucky to have two great leaders/mentors. One was a lieutenant colonel and the other a master sergeant-now a command chief that has been previously selected as one of the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year award winners. These two men took the time to not only teach me about leadership, but to demonstrate to me how important it was to teach others.

Harvey S. Firestone once said, "The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership."

Every Airmen, NCO, SNCO and officer needs to take it upon him-or-herself to mentor and seek mentorship. If you plan to learn leadership through your failures it will take you twice as long than it would if you learned it through someone else's.

To insure mission success we need good leaders. To ensure good leaders, current leaders need to take it upon themselves to develop and mentor our young Airman to prepare them for those roles.
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