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NEWS | Oct. 18, 2016

Be a Ripple, Not a Tidal Wave: 315th Airmen participate in communication skills training

By 1st lt. Justin Clark 315th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Airmen of the 315th Airlift Wing participated in leadership and communication skills training courses at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina Oct. 16. The 315th Mission Support Group hosted two classes as an outreach and mentoring opportunity for non-commissioned officers who supervise Airman, and for Airmen who would eventually become supervisors themselves.

Classes were taught by Michelle McMeekin, community support coordinator at Joint Base Charleston, who herself is a retired senior NCO and former Airman Leadership School instructor. Over 75 Airmen attended the two sessions.

“It’s about getting the Airmen to understand why it’s important to be an Airman, to call themselves an Airman,” McMeekin said. She said that often, Airmen and NCOs come in and put in quality and effective work, but don’t fully realize how the job they do every day connects to the larger Air Force mission.

“It’s about understanding your role and mission, and taking pride in wearing the Air Force name tag on their chest,” McMeekin said.

The classes were held because Airmen had asked for opportunities for mentorship and additional skills on communicating effectively up the chain which is arguably just as vital as downward-directed communication.

“As an Airman, the rank on your shoulder often feels like you’re not a leader,” said McMeekin. “But really it doesn’t have a lot to do with what’s on your sleeves.” McMeekin explained that Airmen can always hold themselves to the highest standard, and the leadership will recognize that expertise. There’s a value to those in leadership positions, she said, in understanding that those in lower ranks still take initiative to lead and mentor, and provide mentoring to all of those with which they come in contact.

“It’s like a ripple,” McMeekin said. “Instead of being like a tidal wave, you want the Airmen to take back with them that they should continue to lead by example, a little over time to move the force forward, and not just go back to their units and hit them hard with leadership.” If a few Airmen take her leadership communication message and spread it, she said, eventually it reaches far and wide, albeit slowly, but very effectively.

Airmen indicated after the class that it was useful, gave them lots of new ideas on how best to communicate up the chain, and also affirmed some many of the positive approaches some were already taking. It was affirming to those NCOs who said they already agreed with what she was presenting.