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Leadership priority addresses professional development

  • Published
  • By Mary McHale

A three-part professional development initiative from the CONR-1AF (AFNORTH) Commander focused on energizing professional development and leadership skills throughout the organization’s enlisted community held its final event, “TIME: Tech Sergeants Involved & Mentoring Enlisted Airmen,” June 13 and 14.

Lt. Gen. R. Scott Williams, CONR-1AF (AFNORTH) Commander, said his primary concern when developing this initiative was to ensure the right training at the right level at the right time.

“When it comes to developing our Airmen as leaders and a professionals, timing is critical,” the general said. “I sought a series of presentation platforms that would provide the most appropriate developmental tools to each audience.”

Collectively called “Next Level Development,” the tri-tiered initiative is one of the general’s 2017 priorities – “to provide 1st Air Force members’ personal and professional educational opportunities to enhance job performance and future growth.

Its other two tiers were “Focus 4/5,” for senior Airmen and staff sergeants and “SEL Interagency Partnership Development,” for senior enlisted leaders.

According to Chief Master Sgt. Richard King, CONR-1AF (AFNORTH) Senior Enlisted Advisor, the general expressed his intention for the program and let the command chief take it from there.

“He gave me the charge and let me roll with the ball,” King said. “That’s when I approached the organization’s senior enlisted and Combined Enlisted Association to start generating ideas and come up with some products.”

He said the first development opportunity, “Focus 4/5,” was meant to reinforce Airmen Leadership School Professional Military Education and provide additional mentorship and leadership tools to our junior enlisted.

Master Sgt. Martha Dunning, of the Air Forces Northern Operations directorate, said the main point they wanted to stress was the value of group diversity and the exchange of ideas as they proceeded through the program.

“We wanted them to experience the value of all the different perspectives within the group they have to bounce ideas between, “Dunning said. “Our main objective was to stress exposure to the experiences they have the potential to face and address any concerns they might have.”

Another important fact she said they wanted to stress was the networking value of such educational opportunities.
“Our goal here was to communicate the end of the class doesn’t have to mean the end of their time together, that they could reach out down the road to each other for advice and assistance when necessary,” she said.

King said the next professional development event, “Senior Enlisted Leader Interagency Partnership Development,” was designed to “focus on enhancing partnerships with agencies relied upon to execute our Homeland Defense and Defense Support to Civil Authorities missions.” He added it was also designed to help senior enlisted leaders better understand why and how strategic goals are executed, and how historical events impact what we do 24/7/365.
To that end, SELs from across the enterprise gathered for a trip to the 9/11 Memorial in New York City and a visit to West Point Military Academy.

Master Sgt. Tiffany Watson, Knowledge Management, said she enjoyed the mix of different experiences which provided her a freshly-renewed perspective of how her duties matter to the mission.
“I really liked interacting with the different people at each stop and learning more about how the mix of different opportunities reflected the different aspects of our military responsibilities,” Watson said.

“While we’re always laser-focused on our 24/7/365 no fail mission, it’s critical too that we stress our profession of arms and its values, why we do what we do,” King said.

The final initiative, “TIME – Tech Sergeants Involved & Mentoring Enlisted Airmen,” was for mid-level NCOs. King explained this professional development opportunity was meant to provide next-level tools and training for our technical sergeants soon to be senior NCOs.

“This was definitely one of the best forums I’ve had the opportunity to address,” said Chief Master Sergeant Maureen Dooley, 224th Air Defense Group Chief Enlisted Manager from Rome, N.Y. “Everyone was engaged and wanting to learn more about how to be better supervisors and leaders. It was my honor and pleasure to interact with some amazing technical sergeants.”

Tech Sgt. Kelsey Brunson, 125 Services Squadron, Jacksonville, Fla., found the senior NCO perspective one of the most valuable aspects of TIME.

“I really enjoyed this, especially hearing first-hand about the experiences of the more senior NCOs,” she said. “I found the most valuable piece to be about attitude because that’s one of the most important attributes of a leader.”