Mentoring, what does it mean to you?

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Daniel M. Donnelly
  • 86th Logistics Readiness Squadron
We all have memories of being mentored or mentoring someone. Air Force Instruction 36-2618 "The Enlisted Force Structure" speaks of mentoring at all levels. At every point in my 18 years of wearing our uniform I think fondly of the people who took the time to teach me, lead me and mold me.

I think the best way I can say thank you is to mentor anyone at any moment whether it's appropriate, needed or warranted. You never know when a kind word or a positive voice might not only get the job done right, but could even help someone in their darkest hour.

Looking at all three tiers of the enlisted ranks we can see each has a unique and important role in mentoring.

At the senior NCO tier, we are expected to help leaders make informed decisions. We do this by drawing from years of experiences, Professional Military Education and being in different leadership positions. We are there to help mold our young officers as well as provide counsel to squadron commanders if needed.

At the junior NCO tier we're charged to lead and develop our subordinates. The most connected mentoring with our junior enlisted members occurs at this stage. Staff sergeants and technical sergeants talk daily with Airmen on work related issues, family dynamics, and these young leaders have the most influence on the things that directly impact the flight, squadron, group, and wing mission. This level of NCO is on the front lines and is invaluable in detecting when the dynamics associated with a specific group might negatively impact an Airman.

The least thought of but one of the most important is the Airman tier. We all know seasoned senior airmen will mentor many of their peers, but reading the Enlisted Force Structure the first mention of a situation of mentoring is at the Airman 1st Class group. How you ask? By being an effective team member.

Commanders will expect informed advice from senior NCOs, but we're also asking someone brand new to the Air Force to give informed advice to their peers. Being an effective team member is what the Air Force is about. Does it sound a lot like being a "Wingman."

So from the Airman tier to the senior NCO tier mentoring happens, we may not always know it but it's around us every day. The wonderful thing about the Air Force is we have a built in structure that can positively affect the newest Airman to the most experienced chief master sergeant. Every one of us can provide that needed word or voice of reason.

The best part of mentoring is it's contagious. So next time a situation presents its self act! It just might be the act that not only helps a fellow Airman, it might stick with them and they can help another Airman too.