Mentorship: making a difference

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Nelson Toy
  • 49th Materiel Maintenance Squadron commander
Mentorship seems to have different meanings for different people. In the last few years it has become a "buzz" word for counseling, advising, communicating or informally instructing. Whatever you want to call it, it certainly has its place on and off duty for all Airmen, civilians, friends and really anybody. It's a valuable and proven tool for management and leadership.

Mentoring is the act of caring, advising, reinforcing and providing constructive examples to help others succeed. At times, it can involve pointing out mistakes that others don't see. Mentoring can mean the difference between success and failure for our military and civilian members. When successful, mentoring prepares the individual for the next level by encouraging greater responsibility and professional development. In the end, serving the needs of the Air Force and nation.

Actual mentoring occurs all the time and at all levels of an organization. Each time you have a discussion with someone, at a minimum, informal mentoring is taking place. It's important that information is presented in a way the listener can relate to and understand. Especially when you're basing it on your own experiences.

For a mentor, setting a regular time, either daily, weekly or monthly, is not as important as being accessible and prepared to listen and respond when a protégé has a need for answers. Mentoring is definitely not effortless and may consume some time, but it is a fundamental responsibility of all Air Force supervisors. It helps our Air Force members to reach their full potential, thereby enhancing our mission effectiveness. A little time and effort now will ensure the Air Force's future leaders of tomorrow are ready.