Master Sgt. Aaron Griffing, a Master Leader Course instructor at the XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) Academy, believes learning never stops, not even when students cross the graduation stage.
The Abilene, Texas native likes to tell dad jokes and admits he’s no good at them. However, one thing he is good at: his job. So said his leadership who chose him to be featured in this instructor spotlight:
What is the most fulfilling part about being an instructor?
I get the opportunity to stress how important it is for a senior NCO to remain relevant. This environment fosters and encourages us as implementers to get into the books and continue to learn. I get to take what I have learned and turn around and share it with the students I encounter every class.
How do leaders remain relevant?
Our counterparts, the commissioned officers, are counting on us as senior NCOs to have up-to-date knowledge to bring to the table in order to leverage our experience and speak the same language. To have that seat at the table is to maintain relevancy by getting into doctrine.
Why did you become an instructor?
I saw an opportunity to take lessons from my failures and successes as a first sergeant and to share them with those in the force on the brink of becoming first sergeants and operations sergeants. As a facilitator, I’m able to share those lessons and send these NCOs out to be relevant in shaping the force while remaining ready for a complex operation environment. We must be agile, adaptive leaders.
Do you feel like this course helps students understand that there is no such thing as the end of the road when it comes to becoming a leader?
Students have to take what they learn and apply it and share it with the force. We’re in a paradigm shift, the way we’re conducting NCO schools, and it can be a huge culture shock for those senior leaders. The course isn’t a walk in the park, and they have to come here and grind. Senior NCOs need to understand the responsibility that we have is an awesome responsibility.
What’s the most challenging part of being an instructor?
The most challenging part about being a facilitator here is that we’re in a paradigm shift. The way we conduct business now is different than how we did it before. It’s a challenge. We follow the experiential learning model, and it’s important for me as a facilitator to maintain that balance. I have to exercise sound judgment and try to remember that this isn’t a lecture, but it’s a group discussion and collaboration. At any moment I understand that as the topic changes, so too can the subject matter expert in the room change based on the topic. That’s another thing I appreciate with this course, I learn as much from the learners as they learn from me.
How has the NCO academy changed since you came through, to what it is now?
The biggest changes is we follow the adult learning model. They usually think they are going to learn from me or my fellow facilitator, but I push for group discussions. I’m looking for the learners to collaborate. When they finish and walk across that stage I confidently know, the responsibility lies with the individual.