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Leadership through our leaders’ eyes: a SNCOs perspective

By Staff Sgt. Garrett Sullivan | Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs | Nov. 26, 2019

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. —

With the need for good leadership in the Air Force being so critical, the Joint Base Charleston public affairs office is conducting an interview series with leaders at the NCO and senior NCO level, to find out what they view as good leadership, and how they try to connect for those they supervise.

 

Our second installment in the series is with Master Sgt. Calantha Pickel, 628th Force Support Squadron Airman Leadership School commandant, where she is the direct supervisor to three ALS instructors and between 264-300 Airmen per year at the schoolhouse. Pickel uses her experiences from her days as an Airman and NCO to remember what it’s like to be in the position those she supervises are in:

 

What do your job and responsibilities entail?

 

Working at the school house, working with the Barnes Center and making sure our curriculum is within the guidelines as well as making sure we’re in line with what the base commander wants. We’re also responsible for all the Airmen that come through here, making sure they receive the tools they need to be future supervisors.

 

What kind of hands-on leadership skills do you use as a commandant?

 

I fill in when an instructor is out sometimes, I try to have one-on-one’s with the students when I can since I don’t get to see them as much as the commandant so when I fill in I get more of those opportunities. It allows me to build a bond so I can share my experiences as a leader.

 

How important would you say leadership and mentorship is for the Air Force from a senior NCO’s perspective?

 

It’s very important, when we talk to the students here there’s always the stories of the good leaders they’ve had and the not as good ones, and we tell them how they will learn from the good and the bad leaders. Being a good leader is remembering what you wanted as an Airman.

 

What tools has the Air Force provided you to make you a good leader and mentor?

 

One of them for me was definitely ALS and the NCO Academy. Going through those taught me the things I never thought I would need as a supervisor and then things I had forgotten about between ALS and NCOA. I’ve also always had effective leaders, they might’ve been hard on me as a young airman or a young staff sergeant, but they expected more of me and pushed me to be where I am today.

 

How have you used these tools to become a good leader?

 

I go back and think of how I felt, I use it here a lot thinking about what I wanted and needed when I was going through ALS. I try to use those experiences to relate and talk to them to let them know we were in their shoes and show them how I used what they’re learning here to be better NCOs.

 

As you either promote or from here until your future retirement, what’s something you hope to take with you?

 

I just hope I’ve made an impact on any Airman I’ve ever come across. I know I still have people I look up to that made an impact so I hope they remember me as a supervisor or commandant that helped someone rather than personal accomplishments.