By Col. Leslie T. Smith, Jr., 120th Airlift Wing Commander
/ Published February 03, 2016
GREAT FALLS, Mont. -- Vigilantes, during the February RD we will be recognizing the wing's 2015 Outstanding Airmen of the Year, as well as the wing's Annual and Quarterly Award winners. I want to take this opportunity to congratulate not just the winners, but all the nominees. Your contributions to the wing and your communities were truly remarkable and it was not easy to pick winners amongst you; that is a good thing.
I also want to thank the supervisors who put in the time and effort to recognize their well-deserving Airmen. The quality of the award packages is improving and overall I'm pleased with the growth of the program. One area I think we can do better in is ensuring units submit a nominee for every category in which they have eligible Airmen. As the saying goes, you can't win if you don't compete. Many of our Airmen are doing outstanding work and leadership owes it to them to recognize and reward their achievements.
In reviewing the award packages, a few thoughts came to my mind that I want to pass along...
If you've ever noticed, the first, and largest, section of every award package focuses on leadership and job performance. It should be obvious why that is so. Performance is the most important criteria on which we are evaluated. However, you may not know that as one transitions from junior to more senior ranks, the emphasis should shift from technical performance (i.e., how well you do your core AFSC skills) to how well you lead others in doing theirs. For Airmen, NCOs and CGOs, your job is to become technically proficient. For FGOs and SNCOs, your job is to manage important programs and to lead your subordinates. In my opinion, you can't overuse the words "Leader" or "Led" in FGO and SNCO OPRs, EPRs, and award packages. That is really what the Air Force is paying you to do.
However, I also recognize the fact that we as an institution do a pretty good job of training Airmen in their primary AFSC, but have a more hands off, self-taught, approach to leadership. So how can we do a better job in helping future leaders develop and refine their leadership skills, style and philosophies?
One tool the Air Force recently rolled out is "MyVector". It is available to all Airmen, regardless of component, and is meant to serve as a place for mentors and mentees to seek out and share professional guidance and advice. I encourage you to check it out at https://afvec.langley.af.mil/myvector/.
"Developing Airmen to their Maximum Potential" is one of the wing's priorities, so establishing our own "Leadership 101" forum for all is another thing we can and should do. This month, we'll start up a "brown bag lunch series" that will focus on leadership and share information on major issues in the Air Force. Look for announcements in the very near future. However, if there is anything you are particularly interested in hearing about, please contact Capt. Maphies at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 791-2159, and we'll be happy to add it to the agenda.
As always, thanks for your service and what you do for your nation and state. Have a great drill!