TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --
A Pentagon expert on character building and leadership recently spoke to hundreds of 552nd Air Control Wing members about “Professionalism Enhancing Human Capital.”
Lt. Col. Kevin Basik, the Air Force representative to the Secretary of Defense’s senior adviser for military professionalism, entertained and enlightened wing members with humor and wisdom about professional leadership in two Tinker Club sessions earlier this month.
The lieutenant colonel said the Air Force should be proud of its level of professionalism, but “you don’t have to be sick to get better.”
“We can always strengthen and maybe even reconnect with the values and standards that make our profession great,” Colonel Basik said. “Leadership is an unending journey. It is a moment-by-moment test — a mountain with no top. Whether you are a brand new Airman or you’re a senior leader at the highest levels of the Pentagon, the test never ends as far as holding yourself to the standards and living out the values.”
Leadership also is about positive influence, said the colonel, one of the Air Force’s most respected thought leaders in character-based leadership development.
“Anywhere you have the opportunity to influence, there’s potential there,” Colonel Basik said. “So the fact that you’re not in a formal leadership role doesn’t matter. Be the Wingman. Be the friend. Be the subordinate that makes this Air Force even a little bit greater. Everybody owns a piece of that.”
People are always using leadership skills, even at an early age, the colonel said. When a fifth-grader, for example, is challenged to answer whether he punched his brother, an honest answer is a trait of leadership.
“Fast forward 30 years, and I say, ‘Hey, come in my office,’” the colonel told wing officers. “‘Is there any indication to think that Dave may have a drinking problem? I mean be honest.’
We’re still talking about honesty here and a testable moment. It just showed up in a different format. The test is still on,” Colonel Basik said.