EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska --
Airmen of all ranks gathered together April 11 and 13 for a professional and personal growth seminar at the Ernie Walker theater.
Themed “Enhancing Human Capital” and open to all military, civilian employees and spouses, the seminar covered a range of current and evolving topics including, communication techniques, leading others, mandate verses organic leadership skills, knowing your people, developing productive and healthy relationships and eliminating personal bias’.
“Years ago as a squadron commander, I learned a lot of lessons about leadership and about being a good Airman,” said, Lt. Col Regan Patrick, a Profession of Arms Center of Excellence instructor. “I think this program is a great way for me to pass that on. In this case, to show people things that I’ve learned along the way and give them a chance to hopefully learn it earlier, not after the fact.”
Patrick spoke about personal experiences, shared motivational heritage videos produced by PACE, and offered a plethora of resources to enlighten Airmen to strive and become excellent leaders.
During the seminar, Patrick referenced several books and articles, but marked David Marquet’s “Turn the Ship Around” as most influential. The book talks about Marquet’s experience as a Navy officer and how one assignment changed his perspective on leadership.
Marquet graduated top of his class from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1981 and was later selected to captain the USS Olympia (SSN-717) for which he studied over a year to take command. At the last minute, plans changed, and Marquet instead commanded the USS Santa Fe (SSN-763), a different type of submarine that operated in low performance.
“The best type of leader is someone who can leave, but nobody knows because they’ve set up processes and empowered people who are working as a team,” Patrick said. “When a new leader comes in, the team keeps functioning, innovating and doing new things, working at its best. Marquet could slip away and knew the ship wasn’t going to fall apart as a result of his absence.”
No matter the rank, all Airmen can be leaders and the key to effective leadership is to understand the human domain. In today’s Air Force, most training is focused on the technical aspect, not the human domain.
“We bring in about 3 to 4 thousand people from around the world into our unit to train for RED FLAG-Alaska,” said Master Sgt. Chet Reed, the 353 Combat Training Squadron superintendent. “Our leadership wanted the folks from our unit, who interact with these participants on a daily basis, to become better people, Airmen, and leaders, which can be transferred into those participants who train here for RED FLAG-Alaska.”