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ELS prepares tomorrow's leaders

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Kurt Skoglund
  • AFNORTH Public Affairs
Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. - The 2014 Air National Guard Enlisted Leadership Symposium was a three-day professional development opportunity which provided a comprehensive, collaborative development experience for enlisted guardsmen at Camp Dawson, West Virginia, Aug. 26 - 28.

Chief Master Sgt. Ronald Anderson Jr., Command Chief, 1st Air Force, was there as a senior mentor and to be available to all enlisted Airmen at the symposium.

"The ELS teaches Airmen what it takes to be a professional Airmen and how important their jobs are to this nation," Anderson said. 

Understanding the big picture and how important they are and how they fit in their squadron makes Airmen that much more effective, Anderson said. 

"There are a lot of Airmen who don't understand how important they are," Anderson said. "They need to know it takes every Airman in every career field in the boat rowing as fast and as hard as they can to move this huge organization forward," he said.

The ELS is also a re-bluing experience, Anderson said. 

"The experience opens the typical Airman's perspective so they will go back to their units and share what they have learned," Anderson said. 

Chief Master Sgt. James Hotaling, Command Chief of the Air National Guard, was the host for this year's event. The intent Hotaling wanted Airmen to know was, there's one Air Force with three components and someday, a guardsman listening to his words today could be the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force in the future, Anderson said. 

"The ELS establishes a baseline and tells Airmen these are the expectations and this is what an Airman should have in their resume so they are at maximum effectiveness in the future," Anderson said. "They will learn the steps they need to be the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, should they desire," Anderson said. "Now there's no reason why a guardsman cannot be the CMSAF," he said.

Anderson took two active-duty staff sergeants from 1st AF with him to the symposium to experience the guard-centric event and build working relationships with their air-guard brothers and sisters. 

"Air Force Core Values and the Enlisted Force Structure should be used as daily guides to help you renew your commitment as an Airman," said Staff Sgt. Lucia Holly, Search and Rescue Duty Officer, Air Force Rescue Coordination Center. "You should always be on a mission to better your job performance, leadership/mentorship skills, teamwork, resiliency and education," she said.

John Quincy Adams, the sixth President of the U.S., defined leadership the best when he said, "If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader."

"I gained a wealth of knowledge to be an effective leader," Holly said. "I was also able to understand the characteristics and work habits I carry and how they interact with others during the "4 Lenses" workshop. "Four lenses" boosted my abilities to positively interact with others," she said. "Four Lenses" assessment program is a personality assessment program which helps organizations build a solid understanding of the innate talent and potential of its individuals.

Discovering new capabilities and expectations weren't the only assets these two staff sergeants gained from the leadership development event.

"I have a new respect for Air National Guard members and how they support Federal and State missions as well as being productive Citizen Airmen," said Staff Sgt. Abraham Walker, Noncommissioned Officer in charge, Commander's Support Staff, Detachment 1, 1st Air Force.  Our Air Force cannot function without the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve forces. The Total-Force concept is imperative for every Airman to comprehend," he said.

Airmen learned about mentoring their subordinates about off-duty issues as well.

"It is vital that supervisors get to know their Airmen and talk about important subjects that could adversely affect them," Walker said.  "We should not feel like we are getting into our subordinate's personal business if we talk to them concerning their budget, Thrift Savings Plan or recommend Dave Ramsey's program called Financial Peace University." he said.

"The takeaway that impacted me the most was the emphasis on getting professional military education knocked out as quick as possible and earning a Community College of the Air Force degree immediately," Walker said.  "This will make active duty and guardsmen more competitive for special- duty assignments.  Furthermore, Airmen will become better-rounded and the whole person concept will truly be utilized," he said.

"The opportunity for Airmen to do whatever they want exists today with the proper guidance and self-determination," Anderson concluded. "These guardsmen learned we really are one Air Force, and it's the enlisted force who moves wings forward."