Leadership and education – you can’t have one without the other

  • Published
  • By Lanette Hetrick
  • 341st Force Support Squadron education specialist
Leaders are confident, respectful, consistent, involved and self-aware.  Interestingly, all Airmen should also be confident, respectful, consistent and self-aware. Therefore, all Airmen have the capacity for leadership. It sounds simple, right? Well, how do you get these characteristics? Through education!
Education is the pursuit of knowledge. While higher education is the best way to achieve knowledge, it's not the only way. The internet and our very own Arden G. Hill Memorial Library are full of books and resources available for self-improvement. The Education and Training Center, Airman and Family Readiness Center and the chapel are just a few of the base agencies that offer workshops and seminars to improve life skills. Even volunteer work is a form of education. I can assure you delivering meals to local elderly shut-ins is not only rewarding for me but also educational. The compassion I gain makes me a better leader, and everyone benefits.

Education is ongoing. How can anyone be an effective leader without continuing to gather information?  For example, how can you adequately deal with someone going through the grief process without reading up on the grief process? How do you evaluate someone changing a tire if you haven't gained that skill yourself? And my personal favorite:  how do you mentor a subordinate about the importance of higher education if you haven't pursued courses yourself? Times change, people change, even responses to change changes.

Don't ever let anyone tell you that a degree isn't important for success. Of course it is! Not every successful person out there has a degree, but the odds are certainly against it. I can't tell you how many people I know who have a degree that doesn't even pertain to their current job but they were hired because of their degree. A degree is a sign of the willingness to improve yourself, and what employer doesn't want to see that?

So how do military members get a degree? If you've never used Tuition Assistance (TA) or it's been over a year since you used TA, come to the College 101 briefing offered every Tuesday at 8 a.m. at the Education and Training Center, Building 1240. You will learn about everything from associate degrees including your Community College of the Air Force degree, to master's degrees and beyond. You will also learn about the new Air Force Credentialing Opportunities On-Line (COOL) program, financial aid, scholarships and so much more. If you are unable to use TA, or just choose not to, please come to the GI Bill briefing offered the first Thursday of every month at 10 a.m. that covers both the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

After attending the College 101 class, come see us for any and all of your education needs. We have assessments to help you find your dream job and various databases to see what it takes to get into every profession, including what you can expect to earn. Once you start college, you may decide that you want to move up the ranks of leadership and become an officer. Our quarterly commissioning briefing covers the various opportunities available, including medical and nonmedical programs. Come see us at the Education and Training Center Mondays through Thursdays between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. (and Fridays by appointment only). Our phone number is 731-3531 and our email is education@malmstrom.af.mil .

Step up, everyone. Be a leader at work, home, with friends, in the community and even when socializing. Know yourself. Improve yourself. Educate yourself.  I can guarantee you'll know and appreciate others more, you'll help others improve themselves and you'll encourage others to educate themselves.  Leadership is a lifestyle, always.