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Enhancing Leadership Beyond Duty
by U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Karissa Dick
February 6, 2024

In an effort to promote professional growth and build camaraderie, the first sergeants from Kirtland, Cannon, and Holloman Air Force Bases and the New Mexico Air National Guard gathered for a seminar that extended beyond their conventional roles at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico on February 1-2, 2024.

With about 40 first sergeants in attendance, this event proved to be a unique opportunity for professional development that featured guest speakers and interactive discussions.

February 1, 2024 - First sergeants from Kirtland, Holloman, and Cannon Air Force Bases and the New Mexico Air National Guard complete a learning exercise during a first sergeant professional development seminar at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. This exercise taught first sergeants the importance of helping others win and how the success of others will positively affect their own success. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Karissa Dick.)
February 1, 2024 - First sergeants from Kirtland, Holloman, and Cannon Air Force Bases and the New Mexico Air National Guard complete a learning exercise during a first sergeant professional development seminar at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. This exercise taught first sergeants the importance of helping others win and how the success of others will positively affect their own success. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Karissa Dick.)

“When it comes to self-care, resiliency, counseling, and the people business, we are the gold standard in all the services for all the great things that the American Air Force first sergeant is,” emphasized Alsvig. “I know we can work to expand the operational credibility, operational relevance, and the operational IQ on what it means to be a first sergeant.”

The seminar attendees further benefited from the expertise of Senior Master Sgt. Angie Jordan, first sergeant career field manager from Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, who shared valuable insights on first sergeant recruitment and retainment, the importance of self-care and assignment management processes. Jordan also addressed the process of transitioning from a first sergeant back to their primary AFSC. This discussion provided attendees the knowledge needed to prepare and plan their careers as first sergeants.

“Senior Jordan gave us a lot of insight on how assignment decisions are made and that it’s a family business when assigning bases,” elaborated Wheeler. “That transparency allows me to prepare myself and my family, so I’m able to go full force and serve where I’m needed. I really appreciate her being upfront with what they need when filling those positions.”

Another guest speaker, Chief Master Sgt. Demetrius Booth, Mission Support Group senior enlisted leader from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., emphasized the importance of mutual trust within teams. Drawing on his experience, he emphasized the necessity of working diligently to earn and continually build trust to create an exceptional team.

February 1, 2024 - Chief Master Sgt. Demetrius Booth, Mission Support Group senior enlisted leader at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., leads New Mexico first sergeants through a learning exercise during a first sergeant professional development seminar at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. Booth’s lesson taught first sergeants the importance of helping others win and how the success of others will positively affect their own success. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Karissa Dick.)
February 1, 2024 - Chief Master Sgt. Demetrius Booth, Mission Support Group senior enlisted leader at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., leads New Mexico first sergeants through a learning exercise during a first sergeant professional development seminar at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. Booth’s lesson taught first sergeants the importance of helping others win and how the success of others will positively affect their own success. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Karissa Dick.)

“I took a lot from Chief Master Sgt. Demetrius during his speeches about mentoring versus coaching,” said Wheeler. “He challenged our way of thinking. When we help others win, it helps us win because everyone is more willing to help each other. I really appreciate that I can bring that altruistic mindset back with me.”

Booth also touched upon various developmental topics, including coaching for leaders and changes needed to become a successful first sergeant. His insights provided a framework for attendees to enhance their leadership capabilities and foster teamwork within their units.

The seminar also included a question and answer session, where first sergeants had the opportunity to engage with the speakers, address questions regarding their personal careers and seek advice. This interactive session facilitated an exchange of ideas and experiences that promoted camaraderie and collaboration among the attendees.

Overall, the First Sergeant Professional Development Seminar held at Kirtland was a resounding success. By bringing together first sergeants from different bases and featuring guest speakers, the event not only provided a platform for professional development, but also strengthened the bonds within the first sergeant community.

“I’ve enjoyed coming together with my counterparts. We always have a good time together and it’s imperative that we meet,” said Wheeler. “The Air Force needs people in first sergeant positions to be challenged, but also have this humbling experience. To come here and see different perspectives, to learn, and to grow is important. I look forward to the next time I come.”

As these leaders return to their respective bases, they bring with them not only the knowledge gained here, but also a renewed commitment to excellence in their roles as first sergeants and noncommissioned officers in the Air Force.

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