Developing Airmen Through Airman’s Time

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Cory Olson
  • 1st Special Operations Wing Command Chief
"People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care."

This quote by Theodore Roosevelt sums up the intent of the 1stSpecial Operations Wing's mentoring program, Airman’s Time.

Airman’s Time has become a new catch phrase in the 1st SOW. But what is it, exactly? In a nutshell, it’s a mentoring initiative to: develop and connect with Airmen, foster communications and relationships based upon a culture of shared identity, dignity and respect; which in turn, will help develop well-rounded, professional and competent future leaders.

But some of you may be viewing the term, “mentoring” in a negative light; seeing it as “just another good idea” you are being forced to implement when resources are at a premium, especially time.

I want to take the opportunity to express the true intent of this initiative. In reality, Airman’s Time is something engaged supervisors and leaders have already been doing. This is an opportunity to formalize it and provide all of our personnel the platform and the time to do it in an effort to develop more leaders.

Essentially, Airman’s Time is about building relationships within your organization. It’s about developing a culture of communication that can flow freely up and down the chain of command.

Airman’s Time is about developing Airmen both officer and enlisted and creating a culture of shared identity, dignity and respect.

What Airman’s Time is not is time spent solely focused on training associated with your career field.

It’s also not intended to be another time-consuming administrative program for you to pencil-whip until you’re compliant, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a rater/ratee relationship.

Anything you do that works toward developing you and your subordinates is called Airman’s Time. The opportunities are endless and the great thing is regardless of your rank or position you have input to the process by selecting topics, events, etc.

The 1st SOW policy is that you’ll do Airman’s Time a minimum of one hour per week, and you’ll document it.

Why document it? So that you’re accountable for it. So that everyone acknowledges it happened and begins to recognize when it happens. No one cares where or how you document it. Write on a sticky note. Write it on a white board. This initiative is about developing leaders not how you document Airman’s Time.

You already make time for Airman’s Time. You may have never jotted anything down or kept track of conversations or activities, but engaged leaders and supervisors accomplish it each and every day.

Here’s what I’d like you to remember when you’re practicing Airman’s Time in your units:

- Airman’s Time is a force multiplier. When our personnel transition from compliance to commitment the positive results are endless.

- You are leading human beings who happen to be Airmen

- Deliberate opportunities to develop the relationship between supervisor and subordinate

- Shaping Airman to have the Airmanship mindset

- Proactive vs. reactive

- Communicating Changes, such as policy, practice, environment, and personnel

- Promoting Followership

- Developing Leadership Behaviors and Skills

- Teaching Structured Problem Solving, such as the OODA Loop: Observe, Orient, Decide, Act

- Creating and Developing Leaders and Managers

- Team Building

- Mentor does not always equal rater

If You Want To Go Fast, Go Alone
If You Want To Go Far, Go Together
-- African Proverb