Mentor our Airmen for a bright, focused future

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Alvin Thomas
  • 62nd Airlift Wing Director of Staff superintendentaff
The United States Air Force, like many other large organizations, faces multiple organizational constraints and is striving to strengthen operational performance despite all our challenges and missions. 

Just as the family is generally seen as the cornerstone of a functional society, the relationship between a supervisor, manager, or leader and his or her direct subordinates should be look upon as our Air Force family. One responsibility often overlooked in today's fast-paced environment is the need to mentor our Airmen so they are successful in their military careers and beyond. 

Some may say or believe however, mentoring is too time-consuming. Let's all remember that the work gets done only if the workers do it. For the workers to do it right and want to do it with excellence, they have to be trained, encouraged, and rewarded for their work by mentors and leaders. 

Air Force Instruction 36-3401, Air Force Mentoring, formalizes how senior leaders think we should mentor our people and provides a pathway for assisting their professional development. Webster's dictionary defines a mentor as a "wise and trusted teacher." Whether you know it or not, you are a "trusted teacher" to someone. In fact, we mentor others all the time without even realizing it. 

I have always felt that mentorship is not a program, it's a responsibility. Since the inception of our Air Force in September 1947, people have helped others become successful through constructive mentorship. 

Mentoring is necessary to ensure those who eventually assume leadership roles have the skills needed to successfully complete the mission. There is no formal training program to teach our folks where they fit into the big picture of the mission to fly, fight and win. We don't hand Airmen a book that teaches them how to manage their careers or how to deal with situations in their duty sections. 

So, be a mentor to your folks -- read the AFI, set an example with your own behavior and pass along your experiences whenever you have the opportunity. 

Your people will be better Airmen and better citizens because you set them on the right path. The Air Force and this nation will reap the benefits for an entire generation.