Off-Site focuses on developing leaders

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  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

The 22nd Air Refueling Wing’s leaders held a strategic off-site at Wichita State University’s Strategic Initiatives complex, August 4-5.


Led by Col. Nate Vogel, 22nd ARW commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Laura Hoover, the 22nd ARW’s new command chief master sergeant, and leadership from the wing’s various organizations were on hand for what has become an annual event. 


The wing held its first strategic off-site in 2021, coming together to examine the challenges and opportunities ahead in-depth and map out the vision and future for the 22nd ARW. With the wing’s strategic direction and lines of effort long since established, the 22nd had a foundation to build upon the 2022 off-site.


“Our off-site this year was fully focused on developing commanders and command teams, and we covered everything from leader resilience to emotional intelligence to leading across generations,” said Vogel. “I’m so proud of the leaders we have in the 22nd ARW…they continue to make the impossible come to life.”


Strategic off-sites are an investment in future success for an organization and its Airmen.


“The off-site reinforced two things for me,” said Lt. Col. Maureen Tanner, commander of the 349th Air Refueling Squadron. “First, the importance of building strong teams and secondly, the requirement to be vigilant and deliberate when it comes to time and task management.”


The off-site also provided an opportunity for commanders new to McConnell to get to know other commanders and learn about the mission sets and focus areas of other units across the installation, added Maj. Rey Heron, commander of the 22nd Comptroller Squadron.


The event featured several guest speakers, bringing a wide range of topics and expertise to the off-site participants, starting with Maj. Gen. Kenneth Bibb, 18th Air Force commander. The general, responsible for the readiness and sustainment of approximately 36,000 active duty, Air Force Reserve and civilian Airmen at 12 wings and one stand-alone group, joined the off-site virtually to share his thoughts on squadron command garnered over his 31-year career.


The next speaker was Kristin Scroggin from the firm GenWhy. She spoke about generational differences in terms of perception and communication. This was particularly useful to the audience of squadron commanders and senior enlisted advisors, most of whom have staff spanning the generations, ranging from those who remember an era of eight-track tapes and no internet to those who know the pain and sounds of dial-up, all the way to those knowledgeable in the intricacies of the Tortilla Slap Challenge.


“I thought it was both informative and provided concrete advice to help better manage the Airmen in my unit,” said Tanner.


Another of the guest speakers was Col. Corey Simmons, a career airlifter who just wrapped up a tour as commander of the 60th Air Mobility Wing at Travis AFB, Calif., and has since moved on to Headquarters Air Mobility Command to work with the chief of staff there. He gave a heartfelt presentation about his experiences in command, leading with emotions, through crisis and dealing with losses within the unit. He shared several pieces of practical advice on what he thinks helps commanders be successful while also underscoring the importance of managing expectations for commanders and their units and taking care of one’s Airmen.


“Taking care of your people means a whole lot more than just making sure they are content,” noted Heron. “If you truly care about your Airmen, you need to make sure they are fully prepared for the looming conflicts that lie ahead. This encompasses not only the basic requirement to be competent and proficient in their crafts, but also the need to be healthy across all resiliency pillars -- mental, physical, social and spiritual.”


Another expert brought in was on a full-power immersion at McConnell, first speaking to Airmen during the Aug. 3 Resilience Day, then to commanders at the off-site and then a squadron engagement at the end of the week, Retired Chief Master Sgt. Anthony Brinkley.


McConnell is the old stomping ground for the chief, who tested and tempered his own resiliency during two tours here. During his time at McConnell, he deployed to Desert Storm, worked the 1991 tornado and served as a first sergeant in two squadrons, among a host of other duties. Through these experiences, he learned a range of methods to allow command teams to achieve a greater connection with those that they are privileged to lead.


“Our number one asset is people and commanders must ensure viable lines of communication and support are maximized,” he said. “The objective of speaking to commanders is to better equip them for this unique leadership opportunity; commanders have a great deal of stress as well as opportunities to positively affect the lives of those they lead.” 


He also highlighted methods that have led to great results for moving organizations forward and things that have led to frustration points, focusing on leveraging best practices.


“Increasing excellence one person at a time is about understanding that each person has value and must understand that they are valued,” said the chief. “Increasing excellence is connected with understanding each person’s talents, passions, lifestyles, and other aspects that make them unique and using this knowledge to challenge them to incorporate a growth mindset to their lives.


“Excellence is not a destination, but a daily pursuit.”