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Exceptional Leader Spotlight: Developing the next generation of leaders

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Christopher Carey, a 31st Force Support Squadron ALS Instructor, poses for a photo, Sept. 25, 2019, at Aviano Air Base, Italy. The 31st FSS includes several distinct mission support functions that include Military Personnel, Civilian Personnel, Manpower and Organization, Airmen & Family Readiness, Education Services, Airman Leadership School and the First Term Airman Center. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever).

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Christopher Carey, a 31st Force Support Squadron ALS Instructor, poses for a photo, Sept. 25, 2019, at Aviano Air Base, Italy. The 31st FSS includes several distinct mission support functions that include Military Personnel, Civilian Personnel, Manpower and Organization, Airmen & Family Readiness, Education Services, Airman Leadership School and the First Term Airman Center. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever).

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Daavid Williams, the 31st Force Support Squadron First Term Airmen Course team lead, poses for a photo, Sept. 25, 2019, at Aviano Air Base, Italy. The 31st FSS is the 31st Fighter Wing's largest and most diverse squadron, comprised of more than 600 military and civilian personnel whose primary mission is to enhance combat capability, readiness, and quality of life for a community of nearly 10,000 military members, DoD civilians, local national employees, and dependents. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever).

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Daavid Williams, the 31st Force Support Squadron First Term Airmen Course team lead, poses for a photo, Sept. 25, 2019, at Aviano Air Base, Italy. The 31st FSS is the 31st Fighter Wing's largest and most diverse squadron, comprised of more than 600 military and civilian personnel whose primary mission is to enhance combat capability, readiness, and quality of life for a community of nearly 10,000 military members, DoD civilians, local national employees, and dependents. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever).

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy. --

There are numerous articles about leadership and how to be a great leader. At times, their suggestions can be too broad or wide-ranging that it can be difficult to know just what to do next when trying to lead.

However, one important question to ask oneself as a leader is “Who am I leading and what do they need from me?”

Leading can vary from person to person because it all depends on whether someone is leading themselves, other individuals, groups or an organization, and it also depends on what situation each of them is in.

U.S Air Force Airmen encounter all different types of leaders; some they connect with, some they inspire to be like and even some that become their mentors.

Two specific leaders that most Airmen will come across are their First Term Course Instructor and their Airman Leadership School Instructor. 

In each course, Airmen may be led inversely because they are in two different parts of their journey within the Air Force. Therefore, their leaders will invest in areas that are vital to their success depending on where they are as Airmen and, most importantly, as individuals.

“I feel you have to approach them differently because you are dealing with two different levels of individuals,” said Staff Sgt. Daavid Williams, 31st Force Support Squadron First Term Airmen Course team lead. “ALS Airmen are already involved in the mission and are being molded to understand how to lead leaders, while enforcing standards. FTAC Airmen are being shown how the standards they have learned so far apply in the operational Air Force.”

Each student from these courses are led by exceptional leaders whose purpose is to lead them onto a path of victory.

Nonetheless, the path to victory is not always an easy path to find. However, it is frequently shown to individuals by leaders who invest their time, dedication and guidance.

“Your investment into your Airmen is what you get out of them,” said Tech. Sgt. Christopher Carey, 31st Force Support Squadron ALS Instructor.

While both these exceptional leaders may lead differently, they both make it a priority to deliberately care for, support, and connect with their Airmen so they can achieve their goals.

“In each class, each student has different goals in the Air Force and in life,” said Carey. “I begin by asking our future NCOs what they want out of the ALS course. I force time during the class to talk about what they want.”

Additionally, setting guidelines and standards often help Airmen reach their goals.

“It is important to develop a baseline for respect,” said Williams. “I have been shown that we all deserve a reminder, especially when we are starting a new lifestyle. Understanding and being respectful can make difficult situations less stressful.”

Investing and developing the next generation of leaders may be a difficult task at times. However, both of these instructors have found the formula to such a challenge.

“The most important factor to developing the next generation of leaders is investment,” said Carey. “They want to be great people, supervisors and Airmen who make an impact. I want every single student to be a better supervisor and Airman than I feel I am. Investing time in the classroom and after graduation gives them one more person in their corner to help them develop. What’s great is that they, in-turn, develop us as the current generation of leaders.”

Both of these exceptional leaders not only support Aviano’s mission, but they also lead Airmen to be proud of who they are and what they do.