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NEWS | Nov. 20, 2020

'Tough Conversations' roundtable focuses on culture of respect

By C Arce 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Leaders from the 502nd Air Base Wing discussed building a "culture of respect" with local Airmen during a bi-weekly Tough Conversation roundtable Nov. 17 at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.  

Brig. Gen. Caroline M. Miller, 502nd ABW and JBSA commander, and Command Chief Master Sgt. Wendell Snider began the discussion by explaining the importance of initiating respect as a core value within the wing.  

“One of the goals for this wing is to be the best installation in the Department of Defense,” Miller said. “The only way we can do that is if we truly, truly have a diverse workgroup that is respected and valued at all levels.” 

Miller asked the group what respect meant to them, especially within their units. 

“I think it should go both ways, with officers respecting Airmen,” said Airman Jalen Kinkela, 502nd Judge Advocate non-judicial punishment paralegal. “It’s like a two-way street with how we respect them and how they respect us.” 

Senior Airman Victoria Motley, 802nd Security Forces Squadron police officer, recently participated in an emotional intelligence class and shared her biggest takeaways on respect.  

“Sit back and take the time to understand what others are going through,” Motley said. “Also, help them gain that knowledge and respect for you.” 

The group then discussed the importance of understanding that everyone is raised differently, has different values and backgrounds, and how those play a role in respecting others. 

Chaplain (Capt.) Tamer Sayedahmed said junior enlisted Airmen who don’t oversee anyone should know they are valued, important and respected. Though these junior Airmen do not hold official supervisor roles, they should know their leadership and commanders appreciate their hard work and the effort they put in, he said.  

Introducing a different perspective on the topic of respect to the group, Snider asked, “What should we be afraid of? What should be our warning sign? What could you see as 'kryptonite'?” 

Motley said it is unfortunate that toxic leadership exists in the military, and discussed how it can affect an Airman’s experience, as well as retention of service members in the military.  

“If I were to just go and ask people why they got out, most would say because of toxic leadership,” Motley said. “We’re losing people left and right because of toxic leadership.”  

Miller concluded the conversation by asking the group what they would do if they could be a senior leader for a day.  

One Airman said she would pick a unit and get to know their mission, while another said she would focus on addressing fairness and accountability issues.  

Miller and Snider will further discuss building a culture of respect in upcoming roundtables, aligning with the focus of the Air Force’s Chief of Staff and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, “Accelerate, Change, or Lose,” or ACOL.  

In an ACOL paper released by the Air Force Chief of Staff, one call to action was the service’s need to adjust personnel and leadership development to better care for and use the talents of Airmen.     

“It takes every Airman, and every wingman, to get after the culture we need, where we truly value and respect each other,” Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force JoAnne Bass said in an Air Force Times interview Oct. 26. 

The Tough Conversation roundtable is an on-going series focused on important, challenging and impactful topics that affect the Air Force and DOD. The series fosters an open and candid dialogue between 502d ABW senior leaders, service members and civilians of all ranks and backgrounds.