Commentary

May 4, 2012

Mentorship, our responsibility

by Senior Master Sgt. Edgar Hugo
56th Civil Engineer Squadron

Gen. T. Michael Mosley, former chief of staff of the Air Force, introduced in 2007 the new Airman’s Creed that Airmen proudly recite at promotion ceremonies, professional development graduations and other Air Force events.

The Airman’s Creed is a reminder of our great heritage that we continue to uphold. We are also reminded of our commitment and pride in supporting and defending our nation.

A part of that commitment is found in the last paragraph, which states, “I will never leave an Airman behind.” While you can pull out different meanings from that phrase, the meaning I draw from it is the mentoring and the development, both personally and professionally, of our Airmen.

AFPAM 36-2241 states, “Mentoring is a relationship in which a person with greater experience and wisdom guides another person to develop both personally and professionally.”

With the downsizing of our force and the continual transformation of the Air Force, our young Airmen will be assuming higher levels of responsibilities and will be facing challenges early in their careers. It is our duty as leaders and supervisors to prepare them now.

In the development of our Airmen, it is imperative to take an active role in their careers, establish a professional relationship and set developmental goals. Mentoring is not only about how to get promoted, but includes many contributing factors to create the whole Airman concept. A few areas of focus should be physical fitness, professional military education, advanced degree work and future assignments. With the high operations tempo at Luke, this can be very challenging but must be a top priority to the success of our Airmen and organization.

To be a successful mentor, I believe you first have to commit yourself to the mentoring process. Get out from behind your desk and get to know your people. Knowing your people is the key ingredient to success. I’ve seen many mentorship programs fail because people have different teaching and learning styles. It is up to leadership to keep this in mind when they discover their method of mentorship is not making a meaningful connection. Sometimes we don’t relate or see eye-to-eye. If we can’t provide the mentorship our Airmen need, we need to find them the right fit.

Reflecting back on my 23-year career, mentorship played a significant role in the development of my leadership abilities, my career path and my personal characteristics. I was fortunate enough to have worked for many leaders I wanted to emulate. These supervisors showed a genuine care in my personal and professional development. I had mentors who believed in and challenged me to pursue higher education and put me into positions for success.

As we read further into the Airman’s Creed, in which the last two lines state, “I will not falter and I will not fail,” I am thankful for those individuals who did not falter or fail in their responsibility in my mentorship and career development. One way I can show my gratitude is by paying it forward and continuing to mentor others. Knowing that you contributed to the development of our future Air Force leaders is worth it all.




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