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Helping Airmen set goals, learn to lead are focus for new command chief
HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Call, Electronic Systems Center command chief, speaks with Airman 1st Class Benjamin Powell, 66th Medical Squadron, during the dorm dinner July 25. Chief Call’s main focus during his time at ESC will be mentoring and deliberately developing Airmen to lead. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mark Herlihy)
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Helping Airmen set goals, learn to lead are focus for new command chief

Posted 7/28/2011   Updated 7/28/2011 Email story   Print story


by Sarah Olaciregui
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

7/28/2011 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. - Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Call, the new Electronic Systems Center command chief, has been here for less than a month, but he already knows what he wants to focus on: mentoring and deliberately developing Airmen.

Staying focused on those priorities can be a big job, but he's confident the enlisted members at Hanscom and throughout the Electronic Systems Center are up to the task.

"I'm pretty proud of what I've already seen," said Chief Call. "We have a great group of junior enlisted Airmen, NCOs and Senior NCOs that have the right focus and are already directing their energy toward making sure our Airmen have the tools they need to be successful. I want Airmen to be empowered to elevate concerns and areas they feel need improvement for the betterment of everyone on Hanscom and our detachments throughout Electronic Systems Center."

The chief has been in the Air Force for 23 years, and he knows that today's Airmen are more than capable of making a difference; they have a lot of great ideas to bring to the fight.

He also realizes that Hanscom is different than many Air Force bases and it's important to make sure enlisted personnel are given the right attention and mentoring opportunities.

"I see the uniqueness of ESC and AFMC [Air Force Materiel Command], as a whole," he said. "Enlisted members are integrated into work centers with mostly officers, civilians and contractors and maybe one or two Airmen. Their supervisor may be a civilian or officer who might not fully understand an enlisted Airman's career progression needs."

The chief thinks it's important that noncommissioned officers mentor younger Airmen so they don't lose military focus or fall behind peers.

"In the Air Force right now, we are looking to better deliberately develop Airmen, NCOs and Senior NCOs," he said. "We need to develop them for the next level of leadership so they can lead. They are the future of the Air Force."

To help with mentoring, Chief Call says the key is listening to Airmen. It's important to learn what motivates them and what their goals are, he said. NCOs and Senior NCOs need to frequent work centers and meet one-on-one with Airmen and help them create a development plan via My Enlisted Development Plan on the AF Portal.

This will outline their goals and the milestones needed to achieve them, and also make Airmen aware of additional tools available, such as requesting a mentor or tracking accomplishments.

"Airmen need to understand just how valuable education is to both their professional development and personal lives," he said. "Whether an Airman completes just one enlistment or stays in the Air Force for 20 years, it's important they get the career counseling they need to make informed decisions. No one can take education away from you; it's something you earn through a lot of dedication, devotion and just plain hard work."

The chief noted that the Air Force offers up so many educational benefits, such as tuition assistance, the GI Bill, Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Services (DANTES) and CLEP tests, that deciding to go to school or not, really should be an easy decision.

Mentoring Airmen, assisting them with goal setting and getting them involved with education early in their careers provides Airmen with the tools to make them more effective leaders, according to the chief.

"Every Airman has an opportunity to lead - from an Airman Basic to a Chief Master Sergeant -- and every Airman should seek out leadership opportunities," Chief Call said.

And there are many ways to practice and develop leadership skills. An Airman doesn't necessarily have to be the president of a private organization or in charge of a ten-person work center. Airmen can coach a youth sports team, help out with Airman Leadership School functions or work special projects on base or throughout the local community.

"From what I've seen at Hanscom, organizations like the Patriot Enlisted Association, Top 3, First Sergeants, Key Spouses and Chief's Group are doing an incredible job of mentoring and leading our Airmen," he said. "They seem to be focused on the betterment of Airmen and doing great things for the community."

The chief notes these groups are making sure the next generation of Airmen are prepared to lead throughout the Air Force.

But, first and foremost, Airmen need to be Airmen, he explains. Being a good Wingman and taking care of each other and their families are imperative to focused mission accomplishment. He thinks it's important for supervisors and mentors to know their people well, especially in today's high operations tempo environment.

"Every supervisor must know their subordinates' likes, dislikes, what motivates them and know what is going on in their personal lives," said the command chief. "This not only creates a better supervisor/subordinate relationship, but also assists in the identification of positive and negative trends. Also, when an Airman does deploy, supervisors already know where to focus their attention to provide the appropriate assistance."

Chief Call, who just returned from a deployment in Afghanistan himself, has seen first-hand how critical the link is between home station and deployment location.

"I just returned from a seven month deployment, and I've seen first-hand just how crucial it is to understand what's on Airmen's minds while they're away from loved ones," he said. "It's important for a deployed Airman's family to have someone to lean on for support to lessen the stress of deployment. I worked a lot of 'people issues' while deployed and know just how important a 'strong home station support group' is while members are deployed."

During his time here, the chief will ensure Airmen are mentored and deliberately developed to lead at the next level. He also wants to ensure each Airman understands how they fit in.

"While I'm here, I want Airmen to understand their work center's mission, which most of them do, but even more importantly, they need to understand how it relates to Electronic Systems Center's mission and the Air Force's mission," said the chief. "Educating Airmen on how their job affects higher level mission areas is a great motivational tool, especially when they can see tangible results."

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