Airmen from across base gathered to learn about leadership techniques in a professional development program designed to promote leadership through a series of guided discussions.
“Lightning Leadership is a course designed to enhance and develop leaders at Luke,” said Master Sgt. Erik Bensen, 756th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron first sergeant. “We do this through attendees’ input and participation in the sessions.”
The program was started last year by Chief Master Sgt. David Staton, former 56th Fighter Wing command chief. Staton saw a need to spend more time on leadership development and hand-picked a few senior NCOs who demonstrated strong leadership and a passion to develop Airmen.
Chief Master Sgt. John Mazza, current 56th FW command chief, has eagerly stepped in and advanced the program.
“These subjects are near and dear to my heart, and getting the opportunity to speak to the class was absolutely the highlight of my week,” Mazza said. “It was an opportunity I just couldn’t pass up. I taught two classes and learned a lot from the students.”
Professional military education and the standard professional enhancement courses provide supervisors with basic tools to better lead their Airmen, Bensen said.
“This course is designed to build upon those basics for the NCOs and senior NCOs,” he said. “For the Airmen group, the intent is to introduce those ideas and discuss ways to apply them in both their current positions and as future supervisors.”
The hope is that attendees take what they learn back to their work centers and apply it. In doing so, everyone benefits, he said.
“I think this program is important because not only is it an addition to PME, it’s an opportunity for a small group of senior NCOs from the top three to mentor approximately 60 individuals in each session,” Mazza said. “These days we get a lot of information through email, text and social media, and this course gives us an opportunity to be in an actual classroom and have that face-to-face interaction.”
Although the topics change during each session, they are all important subjects to remember and embrace as a leader. This month was about character and respect.
Without those two core components, discipline breaks down, Mazza said. It’s important to make sure those are more than just words – they have to be something we live every day and that drives us in the Air Force.
There are currently 11 senior NCOs on the Lightning Leadership committee who keep the program successful. They are responsible for developing the course curriculum and leading the discussions.
Various levels of leadership, including the command chief and the wing commander, have also taken time to mentor and share their perspective with Airmen in the course.
“Leadership is vital to our Air Force,” said Brig. Gen. Mike Rothstein, 56th Fighter Wing commander. “The earlier Airmen begin to learn how to lead, the better prepared they’ll be for a successful Air Force career or anything else they might do in life.”
The Lightning Leadership courses will be offered every two months. The next sessions will be held in April. For more information on upcoming sessions, email email@example.com.