Invest in leadership development

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Howard Suggs
  • 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron
A few months ago during a breakfast with the squadron commander and a group of Airmen, an airman first class asked the commander, "What are some traits of a good leader?"

I was amazed that a young Airman was thinking about leadership at 7 a.m. on a Friday. It was not only that she was thinking about leadership, but also that she was actually seeking advice on developing her leadership skills. She was preparing herself to be a leader.

Besides seeking advice from current leaders, there are other ways for us to invest in our leadership development, including studying past leaders and participating in continuous professional development.

Regardless of our current rank or position, we can begin to invest in being effective leaders. We can learn so much by studying our history and seeing how other leaders developed the skills needed to guide their lives. The one thing to note about past leaders is that they all learned something from other people. Many of them invested the time to find a mentor to guide them, and the chosen mentors were not necessarily leaders within the same profession. An effective leader will have the characteristics and skills that will make him or her successful in any field or position.

One of the most important investments in being a leader is becoming a life-long learner. An effective and supportive leader knows that it is important to invest in the leadership development of their troops. When given the opportunity to attend professional development seminars, we should fill every seat in the room and be active participants. During commander's call we should ask the tough questions of our leaders, listen to their responses, and learn from their examples. We should be glued to the chief's group and have to be the ones pushing our current leaders to continue investing in us.

We can see from past and current leaders that we must invest the time and energy to be better leaders. Everyday should be a life lesson in developing our leadership. Whenever we get a chance, we should engage with our leaders about what we can do to continue that development. We should not wait until we are put in a leadership position to begin investing in the development of our leadership, and the time to start is now.