US, UK leaders share experiences to enhance professional growth

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jason W. Cochran
  • 501CSW/PA

Accelerate change or lose doesn’t just apply to junior Airmen but to senior leadership as well.

This drive to better oneself is what led members of the Leadership Connect program to meet with the leadership of Downing College in Cambridge.
A member of this program is Joseph Gomos, 501st Combat Support Wing chief of plans and programs.

“It’s more or less a leadership development program,” said Gomos. “It is an opportunity for people in leadership positions to meet peers, discuss thoughts and observe leadership styles that aren't necessarily military based.”
The Leadership Connect program took the members to a professional sports organization before Downing College, and will take them to different industries in the future to continue building on the experience.

“This is a chance to broaden our view of leadership by observing other people leading their organizations and to glean some expertise that they have in their current positions,” said Gomos. “It’s a form of career broadening, the same as it would be for an Airman Basic all the way up to a seasoned officer. The reality is no matter how long we are in our positions, we can always learn more.”

Not only do the members learn from the people they visit, but each other as well, said Gomos. The program has members from career fields across the U.S. Air Force, as well as people from the Royal Air Force and the public sector.

“It has been very interesting, it is very easy to live inside our own bubbles and think that we are special,” said Gomos. “It has been eye opening to go to the two places we have so far, both of which are polar opposites of the military, and see the strategies and styles of leadership were relatively similar to what we would learn in a military organization.”

During the visit to Downing College, they visited with Alan Bookbinder, the master of Downing College, and Gavin Flynn, the senior bursar of Downing College.

“We had an in depth conversation about respect,” said Gomos. “One thing that Mr. Bookbinder said was that being the master of a college tends to be seen as the ‘head’ of the college, but he chooses to live day to day as if he is the heart of the organization. That resonated with me.”

The Leadership Connect program occurs annually and is open to all senior leaders at USAF installations across the U.K.

“No matter where you are, if you get an opportunity to participate in this program I would highly encourage it,” said Gomos. “It opens paths of communication that you might have otherwise not had. Once we take that jump outside the U.S. forces, we get to see things like how the individual colleges work with the University and how that all fits into Cambridge, there is a lot of information like that which you can bring back to your peers.”

Senior leaders at the field grade officer, senior non-commissioned officer and civilian equivalent level interested in joining the program are encouraged to speak with their wing leadership in the summer of 2023 to participate.