Mentoring Up: Communication is a Two Way Street

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Bradley Tipton
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

 As MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Airmen adjust to changing leadership at the 6th Air Mobility Wing, they benefit from a renewed emphasis on developing the force and communication throughout the wing.

“The vision that I would like to relay is definitely mission focused,” said Colonel April Vogel, the commander of the 6th Air Mobility Wing. “We’ve got to do the job. Like I said, we have no-fail missions, but in order to continue to be no-fail, we have to value our Airmen. That is something that myself, Colonel Crossman, and Chief Noel are going to focus on every day. If you feel valued, you’re going to be focused on the mission because you know somebody up front has your back.”

One of Vogel’s key messages in her first commander’s call is that her Airmen can expect “Communication, Professionalism, and Respect,” and should reciprocate those values within their organizations.

Senior enlisted leaders also echo the importance of communication throughout the chain of command.
“If I ask somebody to do something or somebody asks me to do something, I need to effectively communicate back that I understood the parameters which we need to operate in, or the task that needs to be completed,” said Senior Master Sgt. Henry Hewitt, the superintendent of the 6th Operations Group.

Hewitt, and other leaders insist that even the most junior Airmen hold influence. They should be considered informal leaders, and have contagious attitudes that serve to improve the organization.

“I like to call it mentoring up,” said Hewitt. “Just by the actions an Airmen will use, or their work ethic, they can show leaders that they’re doing good things.

It reminds me that’s why we do what we’re doing. That’s why we’re spending hours out in the sun fixing airplanes.”

Vogel expressed that our Airmen deserve a baseline of trust from which to operate.

“Once you don the uniform and get your stripes or officer’s bars, you have that trust,” said Hewitt, reflecting another of Col Vogel’s messages. “It’s there until you lose it.”

Airmen from the 6th AMW have a strong trust placed in them from their senior leadership. They not only have what it takes to get the job done, but are able to boldly innovate and adapt to meet tomorrow’s challenges.

“Do you believe it?,” asked Hewitt. “That’s kind of my motto. If you believe in what you do, then we’ll be just fine.”

Top-down trust from leadership enables Airmen who possess strong work ethic and a good attitude to become informal leaders who push the 6th AMW toward the vision of “Mission focused, valued Airmen.”