Mentorship of Airmen: Always a supervisor's responsibility

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Steve Dimatteo
  • 10th Airlift Squadron commander
The professional and personal aspects of mentorship are perhaps the most critical duties of Air Force supervisors in these days of conflict.

We cannot afford for the constant mobilization requisite to fight and win the Global War on Terror to drive us to neglect the necessities of our number one asset: our people!

As retired Gen. Ronald Fogelman once said, "We all bear the responsibility to develop our subordinates and to help groom the next generation of Air Force leaders. Mentoring can help refine the capabilities of tomorrow's Air Force leaders. It can open up communications within our service, break down barriers and create cultural change."

Air Force mentorship was enhanced to bring about General Fogelman's vision of a cultural change in the way we view professional development. 

Ultimately, the goal is to develop well-rounded, professional and competent future leaders. 

To achieve this aim, Air Force mentorship covers a wide range of areas: career guidance, professional development, Air Force history and heritage and knowledge of air and space power.

Furthermore, Air Force Policy Directive 36-34 points out that, at a minimum, mentoring will consist of feedback that discusses performance, future potential and professional development plans.

To narrow it down even more, areas of focus should include promotion, professional military education, advanced degree work, physical fitness, personal goals, professional qualities, as well as thoughts concerning future assignments.

However, these subjects are merely the foundations of mentoring and will only achieve the baseline of results for your troops.

By including subordinates in decision making processes, granting more responsibility with increasingly difficult projects and encouraging involvement in professional or community organizations, a good mentor can help his or her people achieve goals often loftier than they had previously set for themselves.

Mentoring our Air Force professionals is the linchpin that ensures a continually evolving team of strong talent is always here -- honing skills, perfecting knowledge and ensuring the defense of this nation and our way of life.