CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
Chief Master Sgt. Hope Skibitsky, 27th Special Operations Wing command chief, hosted an “Effective Mentorship” seminar at Cannon May 7, 2019.
The seminar focused on improving mentorship across the total force (officers, enlisted and civilian) structure.
“Mentorship is the single most effective tool for developing our most valuable resource,” Skibitsky said.
According to the Air Force Manual 36-2643, Air Force Mentoring Program, mentorship is “a type of professional relationship in which a person with greater experience and wisdom guides another person to develop both personally and professionally. This relationship helps achieve mission success and motivates Airmen to achieve their goals.”
Although she gave the definition of mentorship, Skibitsky relied on personal experience over her Air Force career to explain what it looked like day-to-day.
“If you don’t try to reach out, you won’t know what that person wants,” Skibitsky said. “You start off by being what I like to call an ‘intrusive leader.’ Get in people’s chili! Figure out what it is they don’t understand. Don’t just walk over the carpet: rip that thing up!”
Skibitsky was a military training instructor at Air Force Basic Military Training for six years, and in those years she experienced, learned about and applied effective leadership and mentorship.
“One of my very first thoughts was that I had to treat every single problem like it was an egg,” Skibitsky said. “The only tool in my toolbox was a hammer.”
Although those situations were often delicate, she learned how to earn the trust of those she was entrusted with to guide into becoming a U.S. Airman.
“How do you improve yourself so that you can get closer to the people who need you,” Skibitsky said.
Attending the seminar, Tech. Sgt. Charles Herrero, 373rd Training Squadron Detachment 17 crew chief instructor, reflected on that question on striving for self-improvement.
“Effective mentorship is good for the work place because it establishes relationships that are lifelong,” Herrero said. “You may not remember the people that just came to work, put in eight hours, and then went home. But you will always remember those people who cared about you and took time out of their busy schedule to train, motivate and strive for excellence.”
As an instructor, Herrero knows firsthand how important it is to be an effective figure in the early parts of someone’s career. But it’s not just the early years that mentorship is important: it’s something that must be sustained.
“I think it’s important for Airmen of all ranks to strive for self-improvement because it enables them to breakdown those life barriers and boundaries, step out of their comfort zones, achieve happiness and success,” Herrero said. “When you limit your abilities, people tend to limit their growth, as well. That’s in all walks of life.”
According to AFMAN 36-2643, every Airman benefits by being a self-directed, life-long learner. Air Force Professional development resources are abundant. Regardless if enlisted, commissioned as an officer or a civilian, reach out to supervision for direction or guidance or call the Professional Development Center at 575-681-7041.