Improving oneself to become a better leader

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Culeen Shaffer
  • Pennsylvania Air National Guard

Integrity First, Service Before self, Excellence In All We Do.

Most people want to be a better person than they were last year, last month or even yesterday. To become a better person, parent, friend, etc., living the Air Force Core Values is needed, self-reflection is needed. Being a better person will make one a better leader, therefore creating a better work environment and team.

“In light of our operations and deployment tempo, family stuff, civilian job challenges, etc., we need to sometimes hit the ‘pause’ button and fall back on growing our connections as people and maintaining the foundation of trust that is the cornerstone of successful endeavors.  If we lead with those things, I firmly believe that we become a better, stronger team”, said Col. Michael Regan, Deputy Adjutant – Air for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Regan, wanting to improve self-awareness and building some energy around getting back to basics of leadership amongst the Pennsylvania Air National Guard leadership arranged for Enhancing Human Capital to be taught at the 2017 Joint Commanders’ workshop.

The course taught by Lt. Col. Matthew Basler, Profession of Arms Center of Excellence instructor, is meant to help bring out better versions of others.

“I challenged everyone in the audience to take one thing they heard in the presentation and use it to make themselves, their lives, and their organization better”, said Basler.

Regan said Basler gave them all something to think about. He continued to say, “Our collective challenge now is for each of us to identify a few things that we can do different and/or better and to take advantage of some of the tools that are available on their web site.  I encourage everyone to check it out at”.

Master Sgt. William Kerman, 193rd Special Operations Squadron avionics superintendent, who attended the course, said, “Understanding, and developing relationships and trust is vital and how can you get the best out of your workforce.”

Kerman said people should learn these tools before going into a leadership position.

“I feel as leaders we are always and asking the question, ‘are we using all the tools in our toolbox?’  But as humans we do get complacent in our routines”, said Senior Master Sgt. Edward Spagel, 171st Air Refueling Wing first sergeant, also in the audience.

Spagel said, “As first sergeants we must use our positional authority in positive manner.  Be aware that are position as first sergeants our actions and behaviors can have significant and vital impact on both individual and unit behavior.”

“What might resonate with one audience member may not resonate with another; hopefully, after five hours, everyone gleaned something from the information that will make his or her life better.  In doing so, they will become a better person, a better airman, and everyone will benefit....including the Air Force”, Basler said.

When was the last time you connected to those around you, at work and home? Do you listen to respond or to understand? How are you improving yourself, others, the organization? Do you embrace the core values? Do you ask yourself questions and reflect on who you are as a person, as a leader? Are you using all the tools available to you?

Strive to make yourself better, be that servant leader, because “Life is simply too short to miss the real thing…” (Quote taken from Enhancing Human Capitol flyer)