SSgts hone leadership skills during NCO PES

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- More than 30 U.S. Air Force staff sergeants from Aviano Air Base, Italy, attended a three-day NCO Professional Enhancement Seminar, Feb. 10-12, 2016, to further develop their leadership skills.

The seminar that covered topics ranging from the Enlisted Force Structure to healthy living focused primarily on junior NCOs taking care of Airmen.

"NCO PES gives staff sergeants up-to-date information to help them and their Airmen," said Master Sgt. Sarah Mayersky, 31st Force Support Squadron Career Assistance advisor. "Airmen are our future. They're going to fill our role next and we need to prepare them for that."

The seminar served as a forum for staff sergeants to network with NCOs from different agencies.

"Networking is huge," said Mayersky. "We need to use our peer group to bounce ideas off and seek help from. This seminar is the perfect place for these staff sergeants to do just that."

Enlisted leaders held two leadership panels, where one first sergeant lent his thoughts about DUIs, their negative impact on the military community and the consequences of this crime.

"This isn't a one-mistake Air Force, but it is a one-crime Air Force," said Master Sgt. Vincent Brass, 31st Logistics Readiness Squadron first sergeant. "The fallout from a DUI is bigger than you can imagine. If you get an Article 15 from it, you're not going to make it far in today's Air Force. It's unfortunate, but true."

Master Sgt. Donald Gray, 31st FSS first sergeant, shared a different nugget of advice to help prevent misconduct.

"It's the NCOs job to respect and support their leaders," he said. "You also have to treat people well so they'll want to perform for you."

Chief master sergeants discussed a hot Air Force topic - the new Enlisted Performance Report system.

"The reason we have the new EPR system is because we became lazy supervisors," said Chief Master Sgt. Eric Markel, 31st Maintenance Group superintendent. "Not everyone is a 'five' and now we have to make some hard, gut-wrenching decisions to determine if someone's a 'promote now' or not."

Team building was another focus area of the seminar. During one session, attendees took a personality test and practiced building teams.

"It's important to know what type of person you are ... because it helps you build teams," said Staff Sgt. Adrian Romero, 31st Maintenance Squadron Aircraft structural maintenance craftsman and NCO PES attendee. "Knowing who we are helps us get to know others better."

According to Romero, the knowledge he gained during the seminar will pay dividends for him as a supervisor.

"This taught me new ways to counsel and mentor Airmen," he said. "The generation of Airmen coming into our Air Force is new and different. We need to adapt as leaders to best lead them. That's what this course taught us - adaptation."

To wrap up the seminar, Master Sgt. Keith Rivers, 31st Civil Engineer Squadron first sergeant, shared some professional insights about standards and discipline.

"Anyone can supervise an Airman who walks on water," he said. "A real supervisor influences that troubled Airman to become a future leader. You staff sergeants are the real 'first-sergeants' in our Air Force. You deal with your Airmen on a day-to-day basis. Be involved with them, get to know them and lead them by example."

The next NCO PES is scheduled for April 4-6. To sign up, call 632-3822.