Air Force Reserve Command/March ARB host INLEAD 2018

  • Published
  • By Ms. Linda Welz
  • 452 AMW Public Affairs

Reserve and Guard Senior Non-commissioned Officers from several NATO and Allied partners joined Reserve Citizen Airmen from the U.S. Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard for a week-long Senior NCO Leadership Development course at March Air Reserve Base last week.


The International Senior Non-Commissioned Officer Leadership Program is called INLEAD, and was created to expose international Air Reserve senior NCOs to an array of leadership tools, provide a forum for discussion and exchange of ideas within a multi-cultural environment.


“These folks now know someone from another country, where they can tap into a resource if needed,” said Master Warrant Officer Keith Mitchell, Royal Canadian Air Force Reserve. “If they deploy overseas they can assimilate into that a little better because of what they experienced through INLEAD. This atmosphere gives each student an understanding of how each culture is motivated and how they work.”


Mitchell, whose military background includes combat engineer and pararescue, attended INLEAD last year as a student. He was the only international facilitator selected for this year’s course.


“When I sent my resume into the mix to see whether or not I would qualify as one of the facilitators, my end goal was two-fold. First of all was to help facilitate group dynamics between eight different cultures,” Mitchell said. “Secondly, it was for personal growth, because you never stop learning. I joined the Army to get out of high school and (as a result) I’ve been in school for 38 years.”


Like any other course where no one has met each other before, you have that storming, norming, performing thing where everyone is trying to know who they are competing against, Mitchell said. That’s the initial understanding until they find out it’s a very relaxed atmosphere and there’s no competition here, no perceived goals that are expected of them other than to participate, then they start to open up, he added.


“We throw a scenario out there, ask them how they would handle it in their countries and why,” Mitchell said. “We get them to give their perspectives and then work as a team to solve the problem from one single perspective.”


Sergeant James Bullock, a full-time Reservist in the Canadian Armed Forces, was one of those team members. The 28-year veteran from Quebec, who worked as a supply technician early in his career and as a recruiter the last six years, said his biggest lesson was from Chief Master Sgt. Eric Smith, advisor to Air Force Reserve Command’s commander, deputy commander, director of staff and command chief.


“I learned to adapt my instructions to my audience. The interpretation of those instructions could differ widely from my expectations,” Bullock said.

Smith taught a break-out session during the course. He gave each student a piece of paper and a pencil then asked them to close their eyes and follow his verbal instructions, Bullock said. It was very surprising that even in a room full of senior NCOs, everyone interpreted those instructions differently, he said.


What I am getting at is that literally opened my eyes to realize that sometimes the instructions I do give, seem very clear to me. I learned to approach it with a different mindset,” Bullock said. “Instead of taking for granted that my instructions will end up with my expected results, I should follow up a little more to understand the human nature behind each of the people listening to those instructions.”


Approaching his leadership techniques with a different mindset is something with which Sergeant Thomas Holmskov, Denmark Expeditionary Air Staff, could relate.


“Leadership techniques in the states are very hands on, very aimed toward leading people. Ours is more of a subject leadership,” Holmskov said. “Although different, it doesn’t mean I can’t use what I’ve learned here. I can benefit from asking myself how I might lead my subordinate.”


The answer may be as simple as delegating tasks or responsibilities, thus demonstrating trust in their abilities to complete the mission, Holmskov said. His big take-away from the course is that delegation, he said.


In delegating authority, a leader must employ judgement prior to that delegation. Tenacity is the persistence to keep moving toward the end goal. Mitchell taught a session on tenacity and judgement that showed tenacity as a positive and negative trait with judgement being the deciding factor. He created a slide that read, “The manner in which you employ tenacity will greatly influence your judgement, paving the path to good leadership.”


“I would use the thing about tenacity and judgement (a session taught by Mitchell) because I think that is a very important topic,” Holmskov said. “Tenacity can drive you up a tree, and it can be difficult to come down and make a good judgement.”


That tenacity is what took Mitchell to facilitate, and his biggest take-away from the course, he said, was networking. The understanding he received of the American Forces was invaluable, he said. As a facilitator, he had the ability to speak with each of the American facilitators and get their perspective on how the military and education systems work.


“Never pass up an opportunity in an international forum like this. You have to really build your resume to be top notch to come to this training,” Mitchell said. “If you have to change your schedule to make it work, do it. The growth you get out of this far exceeds the growth you would not get out of this.”


That growth includes discovering new grounds, countries, and places, said Bullock, who was completely out of his comfort zone here.


“Those little factors that take us out of our normal routines or zones, actually increase the way we absorb things because we are always alert to new things,” Bullock said. “I woke up this morning and there was a palm tree outside my window. I just said, ‘Wow!’ All these differences keep us alert, and then add to that all the factors of learning from the different break-out sessions we had all week, and the fabulous outings we had, all those things add to it, he said.” “You guys nailed it.”


As the week drew to a close, another successful INLEAD course was retired, participants traveled home armed with new international networks, new or expanded leadership tools, and the tenacity and better judgement necessary to mentor to their future leaders. 


“It’s a great honor to have been selected to host the INLEAD course,” said Col. Matthew Burger, Commander 452nd Air Mobility Wing. “This has been an amazing experience for our Reserve Citizen Airmen. We had the opportunity to support an international forum with our NATO allies, and this experience will strengthen their development as well. Not to mention the lasting friendships that we made over the last week.”