Developing tomorrow's leaders take active mentoring

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Bob Lumby
  • 610th Security Forces Squadron
Effective leadership doesn’t reside solely in senior squadron leadership positions. Leadership is also demonstrated at the section level where NCOs are appointed as first-line supervisors. These NCOs are depended upon to effectively motivate and lead their direct reports to accomplish assigned tasks. 

It would be naïve to believe our NCOs will automatically develop into leaders simply because they’re put into that position, unless they received proper training. Therefore, make that development a focused effort by creating a plan for them to follow. 

Before an NCO can lead others, he should lead himself through the Air Force Special Code and Professional Military Education courses outlined in the career progression chart. If an NCO or Senior NCO is unwilling or unable to complete the appropriate PME, squadron leadership would do well to repopulate that leadership position with someone who recognizes the importance. I have heard some argue that PME only affects that person’s career. But, I submit, if the supervisor refuses to complete PME, all his direct reports suffer, and that should offend everyone. 

Leadership positions should be held by those who want the position, not by someone who was picked because they were around when someone was needed. It’s safe to say that some people just don’t see themselves as leaders. But given training and mentoring, many may change the way they perceive their leadership potential. There are resources which can help NCOs see themselves as leaders — one is the NCO Leadership Development Program. 

Even with an expressed desire, followed by task-specific training, there is room to further develop leadership skills. That development is best achieved by an active mentoring program. 

The mentoring program is an ongoing and dynamic way of keeping the developing leader on track, as well as encouraging awareness of the bigger picture of leadership responsibilities. 

Leadership is a huge issue. It’s not something that just happens … it’s developed over time. Our future’s effectiveness depends on how well we develop our leaders of tomorrow. The question is, how serious are we?
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