Make a positive difference in someone’s life, be a mentor

Lt. Col. Penny Bailey
100th Air Refueling Wing

Mentorship seems to have different meanings for different people. Some consider it a form of counseling, some look at it as communicating or learning by example. But, whatever you want to call it, it’s something that certainly can be beneficial to any organization. It’s a proven approach and valuable tool for leaders.
Mentoring is the presence of caring individuals who provide support, advice, friendship, reinforcement and constructive examples to help others succeed. Mentoring can mean the difference between success and failure.
Mentoring helps prepare officers, enlisted servicemembers and civilians for increased responsibilities by encouraging job competency, military education, professional development, higher education and serving the needs of the Air Force and our nation. Mentoring encourages people by promoting communication, and personal and professional development.
It does not have to be just at the top levels that daily contact and one-on-one discussions occur. This can and should apply at the lowest unit level. Supervisors of all ranks and in all positions can and should mentor those junior to them.
Actually, mentoring occurs all the time. Each time you have a discussion with someone, at a minimum, informal mentoring is taking place as you are providing insight based on your own experiences. Therefore, it is imperative that information provided is thoughtful and will be beneficial to the individual as well as the organization.
For a mentor, setting a regular time on his or her schedule daily, weekly, or monthly is not as important as being accessible, and prepared to listen and respond to a protégé with a need. Mentoring is not effortless and time will be required. Both parties must be active participants and work out a schedule that is best for both of them.
Mentors do not have all the answers. Sometimes just listening attentively is all a person needs. Mentoring is a fundamental responsibility of all Air Force supervisors. It helps protégés reach their full potential, thereby enhancing the overall professionalism of the Air Force. Additionally, when an interest is shown in others, the Air Force is able to retain its most valuable asset, people.