By Karl Weisel (USAG Wiesbaden)May 7, 2013
WIESBADEN, Germany - Mentorship was the focus at the initial meeting of the Wiesbaden Chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association International April 24.
Soldiers and civilians from U.S. Army Europe, the 66th Military Intelligence Brigade, 5th Signal Command and other local units gathered in the Gen. Shalikashvili Mission Command Center to launch the chapter and hear Brig. Gen. Bruce Crawford, 5th Signal commander, share his nearly three decades of career military experience regarding mentoring and preparing for future challenges.
"We have to train you to use technology that does not even exist yet … to solve problems that we don't even yet know that we have," said Crawford, after showing a video about the rapid transformation in technology that is evolving on a daily basis. "We've got to develop the capacity to see around corners."
A major part of that preparation is guiding future leaders and mentoring fellow Soldiers and civilians to expand their horizons and to seek career enhancement opportunities.
"My responsibility is to develop leaders to solve the problems of tomorrow," he said. "You don't grow leaders by letting them do the same things over and over again."
While it may seem easier to hire like-minded employees and to "rely on the proverbial system to take care of your people," Crawford told his listeners it is their responsibility to guide and mentor junior staff, saying, "you are the system."
To be a good mentor an individual must be interested, have a positive outlook and be enthusiastic and dependable, Crawford said. Mentors should also be experienced, current in their job skills, visionary and have a solid network of beneficial relationships.
"You, the mentor, must be credible," he said, adding that those seeking a good mentor must be selective. "Don't settle for just anybody who is willing to talk to you."
For the person being mentored, it's crucial that one be solution-oriented, dependable, appreciative and respectful --especially of the mentor's time.
"You've got to be receptive to feedback," said Crawford, explaining that being honest about one's expectations, limitations and possibilities is equally important.
This applies to leaders as well, he said, pointing out that knowing one's strengths and weaknesses helps in discovering coworkers and staff who can complement an organization and leadership.
"You want to hire people who are good at the things you're not good at -- or don't care to do," he said.
The guest speaker praised the efforts of the association in raising scholarships for military youths and funds to help such charitable organizations as the Fisher Houses in Landstuhl.
In addition to charitable efforts, AFCEA is dedicated to serving as a forum where government and industry can effectively communicate and explore relevant issues in information technology, communications and electronics for the defense, homeland security and intelligence communities, according to H.S. "Rock" Schmidt, chapter president.
Soldiers, civilians, local nationals and students are eligible to join the association.
For information about the Wiesbaden Chapter of AFCEA contact Rich Gooding, vice president for membership, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit AFCEA's home page at www.afcea.org for more information.