CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, NM, UNITED STATES
CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. - "Leadership is traditionally thought of as a top-down activity; the leader leads and the followers follow. 360 Degree Leaders are by definition non-positional; they lead through influence, not position, power, or leverage. They take the approach not only with those above and alongside them, but also with those who work under them. This is what makes 360 Degree Leaders unique and so effective. These individuals take the time and effort to earn influence with their followers just as they do with those over whom they have no authority." -John C. Maxwell, The 360 Degree Leader
Over the past few months, an innovative vision of the Career Assistance Adviser has come to fruition for the betterment of Air Commandos here.
Master Sgt. Yvonne Thomas, 27th Special Operations Force Support Squadron CAA, has teamed up with airmen, NCOs, SNCOs, and Company Grade Officers to offer a comprehensive seminar for the enhancement of leadership within the 27th Special Operations Wing.
"The goal of the 360 Degree Leadership seminar is to teach our Airmen that no matter where they fall within their organizations, they can be leaders," stated Thomas. "From airman basic fresh out of technical school, to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force--everyone can become a better leader by implementing the techniques demonstrated by John C. Maxwell."
It was important to Thomas that those who would eventually teach the course maintain loyalty to Air Force Core Values and high standards of professionalism; she conducted interviews to find some of the best leaders Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., had to offer.
"The course is DVD-based, but our instructors play a large role in guiding the discussions between students," Thomas continued. "Additionally, these facilitators have had the opportunity to add value to each class by sharing personal experiences with students."
The course contains five sections that focus on myths believed by people in different brackets: The Myths Often Believed by those in the Middle, Challenges 360 Degree Leaders Face, Principles 360 Degree Leaders Practice to Lead Up, Principles 360 Degree Leaders Practice to Lead Across, and The Principles 360 Degree Leaders Practice to Lead Down.
"We just completed the full cycle of classes here at the Professional Enhancement Center; we started with airmen, then NCOs, followed by SNCOs, and finished with CGOs," Thomas explained. "These are full-day courses, but the results have been very promising."
Students were asked to provide in-depth feedback following each seminar for instructors to get a better idea of how lessons were received; as Thomas noted, the feedback has been overwhelming.
"This course has definitely given me a new perspective on how to use various tools to lead and develop myself and others from any level or rank," stated a student in the airman course. "These lessons will help in so many aspects of my life, both professionally and personally."
The junior enlisted tier wasn't the only one that echoed this sentiment.
"This has prompted me to look inward and has given me what I need to work on flaws I didn't realize I had until I took this class," noted a student in the SNCO course. "Overall, this course exceeded my expectations. This is something we definitely need to keep going and offer all our ranks to grow our next wave of leaders."
That request has not fallen on deaf ears; Thomas is currently engaging with instructors in an effort to double the amount of seminars offered per month.
Students are hand-selected by respective first sergeants to attend the leadership class. The classes are kept small in order to maximize impact and participation.
"These topics are very relevant and critical for force development; we tend to lose sight of a lot of this when we allow ourselves to get caught up in the day-to-day routine," said a student in the CGO course. "Come in with an open mind, leave egos at the door, and believe me when I say you'll be leaving with more than you came."
For more information regarding the 360 Degree Leader or any other PEC course, contact the wing's CAA at 575-784-7041.
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This work, PEC leadership course: Developing impact from all Airmen, by SSgt Alexxis Pons Abascal, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.