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NEWS | April 19, 2022

502nd Logistics Readiness Squadron holds strategic leadership off-site

By Brian Valencia 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The 502nd Logistics Readiness Squadron held a strategic leadership off-site in San Antonio for their senior leaders April 12-13. Several guest speakers and team-building exercises focused on developing values, high-performance teams and understanding different personalities in the work place.

“This is a huge deal,” said Maj. Robbie Walsh, 502nd LRS commander. “We’ve taken two days to understand the very essence of what the squadron is -- it is truly the people.”

The first speaker of the day, Matt Delacruz, founder and CEO of The Winning Minds Group and a John Maxwell Leadership Coach, emphasized knowing and connecting with your people.

“If we as leaders have the title but don’t have a connection to our people, will they want to follow you,” Delacruz asked. “You must work on the human connection -- the best way to view yourself as a leader is how well your people follow.”

Retired Col. Kevin Adelsen, leadership team assessment facilitator with the Profession of Arms Center of Excellence, Air Education and Training Command program analyst, and former KC-135 navigator, used an image of a KC-135 Stratotanker refueling an F-15 Eagle to stress the importance of connection and trust.

“If we don’t connect and trust each other, how does the mission get done?” Adelsen inquired. “If you don’t have trust, you’re not going to get off the ground.”

Adelsen referenced a recent memo from the Air Force senior leadership which happened to arrive the day prior to the training. The memo, addressed to command teams and supervisors, starts off, “Connecting with our fellow airmen is a mission imperative and has to be a top priority.”

“Building trust and belonging is never a one-time event, it’s a daily commitment to those we serve,” Adelsen continued from the memo.

Brian Hoffman, 502nd Air Base Wing vice director, closed out day one talking about improving oneself and improving one’s organization.

“As key leaders in LRS, you get to shape the organization and lead in ways you don’t even realize,” Hoffman said. “Measuring things like how many days I’ve gone without a safety incident or an aircraft mishap, that’s easy. It’s the tougher things like how your employees feel and how well you are instilling the culture that are important to measure.”

The second day’s focus centered on understanding the mission and vision of the 502nd LRS and having highly effective teams.

“It’s very important for people to know their purpose and to know they are valued,” said Jose Surita, 37th Training Wing executive director. “Everyone must know where they stand, to know where they are going.”

After a short group exercise discussing characteristics of a highly effective team, the group was asked which was most important. Coming back to the lessons of day one, the crowd echoed “trust.”

“If you don’t have trust in an organization, you’re always second guessing, not following.”

The off-site culminated with retired Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Robert Gaylor discussing his four T’s, starting with training, technology, tribe (family), with his last being trust.

“When I entered the Air Force there was no trust,” Gaylor said. “If you want a trained, motivated airman, you have to provide for their total lifestyle, today we trust.”

He told a story of how he was asked by a neighbor why he always did his own yard work. Gaylor’s response: my name is on the mailbox. He encouraged everyone to feel a part of the organization and take pride in their part.

“Accountability, responsibility, ownership, I can ask you right now, is your name on the unit mailbox,” Gaylor added. “When you go to work do you feel you’re an investor, an owner, a key employee or do you just work there?”

Walsh hopes the 502nd LRS leadership came away with a stronger team from the off-site.

“We want to show everyone in the squadron exactly how important they are to what we do here at JBSA,” Walsh said. “We want to really raise the trust with the work force.”