We must all teach tomorrow's leaders

  • Published
  • By Brig. Gen. Mark Dillon
  • 86th Airlift Wing commander
General Wilbur L. Creech, one of the most venerated leaders in the history of our Air Force, once said, "The first responsibility of a leader is to create more leaders." I personally believe this philosophy is true for all Airmen, in all positions, and in all directions.

Whether we're talking about young Airmen who work together in the same shop, a staff sergeant who's supervising Airmen for the first time, a master sergeant who teaches a brand-new lieutenant the ropes, or a four-star general who is bringing a new wing commander into the fold; we all have experiences that can help our fellow Airmen perform better today, and be better leaders tomorrow.

With General Creech's credo in mind, I've recently begun inviting one company grade officer per week to spend their Wednesday shadowing me as I go through my schedule.

This gives young officers some perspective on what their leadership deals with on a day-to-day basis, and also gives them a chance to see what may lie ahead on their own Air Force path. It also serves as a good opportunity for some good, old-fashioned mentorship - that CGO can ask any question they like, and get a straight answer.

I also hold a monthly lunch with the squadron commanders in the wing. This gives me and those commanders a chance to get to know each other better, and also establishes camaraderie among them as a peer group. There doesn't have to be any disparity in rank for mentorship to take place - we learn just as much from our peers as we do from our designated teachers.

The responsibility for creating the culture of tomorrow's Air Force today falls on each of us. I encourage you to consider how you can be a better mentor, and pupil, in your workplace. Take the time to establish good relationships with your leaders, your peers and your subordinates; pass on the lessons you've learned, and listen to those they tell in return. Teach our young Airmen the communication skills that have helped you the most.

The mentoring environment we create today will be our legacy to the future Air Force, so we must all learn to teach, and teach to learn.

If you'd like a peek under the tent, please ask these Airmen for their thoughts on the Commander's Wingman Program:

Capt. Julie Skinner, 86th Medical Group
Capt. Tim Fritz, 86th Operations Group
Capt. William Chalmers, 86th Medical Group
Capt. Ronald Ragon, 86th Wing Staff
Capt. Krystal Kanres, 86th Maintenance Group

As always, thanks for what you and your families do for our Air Force each day.