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To be continued…

Chief Master Sgt. Steve K. McDonald
By Chief Master Sgt. Steve K. McDonald
Air Force Personnel Enlisted Force Development

I have to admit I became a big fan of the television series “Lost” when a friend gave me past episodes on DVD that I watched while I was deployed.

After returning home, I watched the show without fail each week. One of the most frustrating things about following the series was being totally engrossed and losing track of time only to be brought to reality when the screen went blank and the words “To Be Continued …” appeared. You didn’t want the story to end; it was a disappointment. Wouldn’t it be nice if the show could go on forever? But, as the adage says, “All good things must come to an end.”

But is this adage an absolute truth? Since I began working in force development, I have come to learn that there are two things that should never come to an end: your personal and professional development. The concept of force development is extremely important in the Air Force. Developing and caring for Airmen has been one of the service’s stated priorities for many years.

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Roy has spent the past three years espousing a philosophy of deliberately developing Airmen, as reflected in many of the Air Force’s policies and processes.

Within the world of doctrine and policy, force development is centered on the Continuum of Learning — a career-long process of individual development which connects education and training opportunities to assignment and deployment experiences.

In simpler terms, the Continuum of Learning consists of education, training and experience. For enlisted Airmen, this starts in basic military training and continues through initial skills training and into the first duty assignment.

Over the next four or 20 or 30 years, those same Airmen will continue their education and training from the Air Force by way of numerous assignments and deployment experiences. They will encounter people along the way and learn things about the service and themselves. Much of this will be deliberate in order to develop them both personally and professionally for future leadership roles in the Air Force.

But if we only focused on the resources employed by the Air Force, even force development would “come to an end.” That is why it is just as important to take a personal role in your own development. As many of you are aware, the Air Force chief of staff releases an annual reading list. Upon release of this year’s list, Daniel Sitterly, the director of force development under the deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services, suggested that the Continuum of Learning should now consist of education, training, experience and reading. His point was valid.

I believe the point is that the Air Force does a good job investing in the development of individuals but we may not have done a very good job in getting people to invest in themselves.

There are many ways people can further their own development. Where the Air Force provides professional military education, individuals can pursue civilian educational opportunities. Where the Air Force provides upgrade skill training, individuals can read books and use computer-based training to enhance current skills or learn new skills. In addition to Air Force assignment and deployment experiences, Airmen can join professional organizations and take on leadership roles.

It goes without saying that the Air Force will continue to invest in the personal and professional development of its people. But with added emphasis and a commitment from individuals to invest in themselves, force development can reach new levels.
That’s the good thing about personal and professional development — they truly are designed “to be continued.”

Are you a servant-leader?

By Chief Master Sgt. Gregory Warren
62nd Airlift Wing command chief

Chief Master Sergeant Gregory WarrenThe phrase “servant leader” was brought into the mainstream back in 1970 in an essay published by Mr. Robert Greenleaf. In this writing, he defines a servant-leader as someone who “is a servant first.” Servant leadership isn’t about positions and titles. Instead, it is an attitude that says people and relationships are important, valuable and essential to mission success.

What does it mean to me? It’s very simple. Putting the needs of your fellow Airmen first. Is this convenient? No. Is it rewarding? Absolutely! There is nothing more satisfying than to see someone you’ve worked with succeed. That is what personally drives me in the capacity I serve.

We often talk about getting to know one another and being good Wingmen to each other. For those in supervisory positions, we emphasize getting eyeball-to-eyeball with your Airmen, daily if possible, to identify when something might not be quite right with them.

For the servant-leader this isn’t a chore, it is an imperative embedded in their DNA; they genuinely care about others and know that mission success absolutely depends on individual successes of those around them.

In my opinion, some great examples of servant-leaders throughout history may be Jesus, Ghandi, Mother Theresa and Martin Luther King Jr. These leaders absolutely put the needs of others before their own and, because of it, are considered some of the greatest, most beloved leaders to have ever lived.

An unknown author once said, “A good leader inspires people to have confidence in the leader, a great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves.”

John C. Maxwell, famous leadership mentor and pastor said this, “True leadership must be for the benefit of the followers, not to enrich the leader.”

These two quotes are at the heart of servant-leadership and define your leaders here on McChord Field.

In closing, I’ll say that leadership to me isn’t about the number of stripes on your sleeve or the shape or color of the rank on your shoulders; it is about serving others. No matter what capacity you serve in. I believe that success isn’t defined by how much you personally achieve but on how much those you influence achieve. Does this define you as a leader?

Photo: Chief Master Sgt. Gregory Warren is the 62nd Airlift Wing command chief at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)