JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii --
Are you in the gap? The gap between Airmen Leadership School, Noncommissioned Officers Academy or Senior Noncommissioned Officer Academy? In most cases, there are several years between each professional military education school and, now, with the increased use of distance learning, the gap is only getting bigger.
According to Master Sgt. Heath Adams, co-chairman of the Total Force Leadership Development Program, a group of senior noncommissioned officers from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, started the TFLDP as a way to fill the void between PME courses, and create a leadership curriculum that would improve the Air Force's leaders' development.
Adams said the initial group of SNCOs developed the program moved bringing the TFDLP to their new bases and over the years, the program has grown and is now implemented at more than 20 bases.
The TFLDP consists of specially designed courses that mixes commercial leadership tools with the Air Force core competencies as well as the Core Values and leadership vision.
"The courses are designed to get through to Airman who don't know that they are leaders and pull those leadership qualities out of them," said Adams.
He noticed that there was not a TFLDP here after arriving to JBPHH.
"I initially started out selfishly looking for a way to develop myself," said Adams. "I had gone through the TFLDP courses at my last base and wanted to continue to develop myself as a leader. I think the best way to learn is to teach, so I tried to find a leadership avenue where I could teach, and starting the TFLDP at JBPHH gave me that opportunity. So, I found some other motivated NCOs and we worked with the 15th Wing command chief to receive funding and get the program off the ground."
Adams said that over the past year, about 300 Airmen have attended the two courses offered by the TFLDP-"360 Degree Leader" and "Developing the Leader within You." Both courses are based on the teaching of John Maxwell and the Air Force's core competencies as well as the Core Values and leadership vision.
Maxwell is an author and speaker who focuses on leadership and leadership development.
"One of the themes of the course is that you can't lead others until you can lead yourself," said Senior Master Sgt. Christopher Perez ,co-chairman of the TFLDP. "The courses make students take a look at how they are presenting themselves and how others view them."
Perez said the class really seems to speak to Airmen and the majority of students who attend one class immediately register for the second.
"I absolutely loved the class. I realized that I was behind the power curve as a leader," said Master Sgt. Sterling Magby, a student and now facilitator for the TFLDP. "I waited too long to develop myself as a leader. I thought I couldn't be a leader until I was at the top. Now I am trying to complete the steps I need to catch up. The courses teach that you can lead from anywhere within an organization and that leadership is specifically influences. The course made me change my philosophy, instead of looking at myself, I started looking at what I am going to do for my team."
According to Perez, over an eight-hour course, a facilitator guides 30 students through a curriculum that is discussion-based.
"The job of the facilitators is to help draw out the leaders in the class and help them share their experiences and challenges they have faced," said Perez. "This helps build the bridge between institutional competencies and their experiences, allowing the students to learn how to lead more effectively over others and themselves."
Becoming a facilitator is often the next step for those who have a desire for influencing Airmen.
Facilitators range from Senior Airman to Captain, anyone can be a facilitator as long as they have a passion to develop leadership and, are not in it for themselves but in it for the development of the people who are going to receive the guidance.
Facilitator training occurs once month and is a two-hour course that covers the course curriculum as well as the history of the program. Then, facilitators have to attend both courses and qualify as a facilitator by teaching a course. To stay current, each facilitator must teach a course once every six months.
Magby said after taking the course he started looking for ways to develop the Airmen around him to impact the mission on a bigger level, so he became a facilitator.
"The younger Airmen make up the majority of our people in the work force," said Magby. "If they attend these courses, they could really have a positive impact on their organization. You can never have too much leadership development. From an Airman 1st Class to a General there is always improvement that can be made to develop yourself."
If you are interested in attending a TFLDP course, you can register up at https://cs3.eis.af.mil/sites/OO-DP-PC-15/PLDreg/Registration/Registration.aspx