U.S. Air Force / FIRST® Leadership Experience
One day in June I received a call telling me I had been accepted to the Air Force/ First Leadership Experience. I never expected this one. My Lead mentor/coach forwarded me the information and I applied. Never thought I would get it. But I did, 24 mentors and teachers were selected out of 300 applications. The experience would take place over three days at Wright Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio.
On Sunday night we were treated to a welcome dinner and also received all our little goodies. These included an awesome backpack, pens, coffee travel mug etc. All the things a teacher loves, right? We had a some fun while sharing our experiences with our robotics teams. It was really helpful to listen to others, and how they faced some of the same problems your team faced. At the dinner we meet Brigadier General Jeannie Leavitt, Major McKnight, and others. Meeting the Brigadier General was the highlight of the night, she was the first woman pilot in combat. If you want to see some cool things about her check out some of the movies on YouTube or her bio. One of the things she talked about was the need for recruits, right now all branches of the military were looking for people who just wanted to be a part of the military or people who wanted to serve in other ways, civil servants. Even if students don’t want to enlist they could still hold some awesome jobs by becoming civil servants. By supporting First Robotics and attending the competitions she was hoping to bring more awareness the the people about the Air Force. But she also discussed why were there, to learn about leadership and how we could bring this back to our teams.
On the second day we would begin our leadership experience, it started with a meeting and brief introduction with Colonel Michael Phillips, Vice Commander of the 88th Air Base Wing. Then we began our Leadership introduction, I’m not sure what else to call it, but we were introduced to Colonel Gary A Packard, Jr. Vice Dean of the Faculty at the US Air Force Academy. His talk was very enlightening and informative. Using his experiences he went over some suggestions and advice to us about how to form a “holistic” young person. He started by comparing Complicated to Complex. Complex is the skill students will need to deal with the world. Diversity is a part of the world and this country nothing will change that. As a mentor/coach we need to develop both skills. Its not our world it will be their world. Colonel Packard continued by sharing some ideas about what we could do for our team; have them experience other parts of the world. Take the students to an art museum or a music concert. Get them out of their comfort zone, this will help them see the diversity of our world. Teach critical thinking skills, this is something I really need to work on not only on my team but in class too. Challenge the status quo! There was more great advice, but these were the highlights. It was a great talk and I learned a lot from it. I do appreciate him taking the time to talk to us.
After break we came back to work with Lt. Colonel Rosenberg, he presented a variety topics, but his talk was titled “Professionalism Enhancing Human Capital”. His first question to us is “Why do I do what I do? When you know your “why”, your what has more impact! A leader sets the tone, there are three domains of a leader’s trust technical (knowledge and proficiency), conceptual(ability to work with ideas and concepts) and human(ability to work with people). The top 3 things that derail high potential leaders are they can’t adapt to change, inability to develop/lead teams and problems with interpersonal relationship. Once they achieve the 3 domains and show commitment, leaders will then get the loyalty and trust from their people. Instead of trust-loyalty-commitment, leaders should display commitment then loyalty and trust will follow. During his discussion he placed a ton of resources on our desks. Here are a couple: “The Servant” James C. Hunter, “Speed in Trust” Stephen R Covey and “Turn the Ship Around” L. David Marquet. There were others but these were just a few.
To end the day we went to the auditory lab where we were able to experience some of the research being done. No pictures though. The tour was great and the people working there were great tour guides. This ended the day and we went to dinner. What was great was the sharing of ideas and suggestions everyone brought to the table. There were still two more days left for the experience and I couldn’t wait to find out what was in store for us.