HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. (AFNS) —
Air Force Special Operations Command recently hosted its Leadership, Equity, Advocacy and Development (LEAD) Symposium featuring six keynote speakers, including Lt. Gen. Jim Slife, commander of AFSOC, and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass.
The virtual symposium aimed to provide an opportunity for Airmen to participate in a virtual professional development event and hear from subject matter experts as well as from the Air Force’s most senior leaders.
Discussions during the symposium included talks on diversity and inclusion, radioactive leadership, building the Airmen we need, among other breakout sessions.
Bass led a discussion on how inclusiveness among Airmen leads to their overall readiness.
“Inclusion is a conscious choice, and whether or not we choose to be inclusive could mean the difference between maintaining a competitive advantage or not,” Bass said. “Diversity, and all its components, is an operational imperative, and when we optimize our force and organization with people from all walks of life, we certainly set the conditions to be the most effective.”
Chief Master Sgt. Greg Smith, U.S. Special Operations Command senior enlisted leader and Chief Master Sgt. Cory Olson, AFSOC command chief, facilitated a LEAD panel which explored lessons learned from the COVID pandemic, social justice movement, diversity, inclusion and the special operations forces pivot from Afghanistan.
“The needs of our Air Force, to fight and win our nation’s wars have changed at many different inflection points during our service’s history,” Smith said. “Change is constant, and how we adapt to it and how we embrace it is what makes the U.S. Air Force the greatest fighting force in the world.”
Another highlight of the event was a discussion between Slife and Simon Sinek, an author and motivational speaker, on the topic of infinite leadership.
“Infinite games are defined as games known and unknown players, and the rules are constantly changing, much like the geopolitical game the U.S. plays with allies, partners and versus adversaries,” Sinek said. “If life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are being challenged, we will do everything in our power to ensure that we can uphold these ideals.”
One of the breakout sessions, Dagger Athena, facilitated discussions on challenges and best practices in influencing unit culture, and helped participants establish two way-trust in an integrated workplace, understand unconscious biases and barriers to change in the command.
“During LEAD, we successfully launched Dagger Athena,” said Lt. Col. Laura Easton, 492nd Air Force Special Operations Advanced Capabilities Squadron commander. “Our next events will entail grass-roots sourced topics and working groups built with wing-nominated Airmen to tackle female, family, and human-centric barriers to readiness.”
Dagger Athena also featured female AFSOC Airmen within the formation who spoke about their experiences and the day-to-day challenges they face in their careers.
“As leaders, as Air Commandos, and as U.S. Air Force Airmen, it’s our responsibility to create a culture in which all of us can thrive and feel that we can truly do so,” said Maj. Gen. Eric T. Hill, AFSOC deputy commander. “Giving our Airmen ownership of their mission and allowing them to feel empowered to improve their environment is what it’s all about.”
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