Resources for Developing Resilient Leaders

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Timothy White

We must develop leaders with the appropriate tools to create and sustain an environment in which all Airmen can reach their full potential, valuing the many aspects of diversity within our Air Force. Airmen who do not or cannot reflect these and the related attributes we value fall short of being the future Air Force leaders we require.

- General Charles Q. Brown, Chief of Staff of the Air Force

Developing resilient leaders can be complex. There is not a single solution or program that can mass produce the caliber of leaders we need to win in a competitive environment. Since I became your command chief two years ago, Lieutenant General Scobee and I have worked tirelessly to provide the resources to units that will set the conditions for success for this strategic priority. We have also been fortunate to hear from many of you out in the field on your approach to leadership development. 

The most important part of leadership is learning how to lead yourself. Comprehensive Airman Fitness is one way to understand how we lead ourselves. This model has four pillars: mental, physical, social and spiritual. You can think of these pillars like the four legs of a chair. If these pillars are a little out of balance, you’ll probably wobble a little, but if they’re really out of balance you’ll wind up on the floor. As a command team, we want to ensure that you and your units have the right tools to help with these pillars. 

The pandemic has caused disruptions to our fitness assessments and our fitness routines and as an Air Force, we are rethinking how we assess fitness. We are actively engaged in developing ways to better assess fitness holistically, examining both physical and mental fitness, as we prepare to roll out a revamped program designed to more accurately assess overall fitness. 

We have also worked on getting the necessary manpower authorizations to provide more full-time chaplains and first sergeants. We are in the process of building out our religious support teams across our host unit wings to provide full-time support to the spiritual fitness pillar. We are also finalizing our hiring for full-time first sergeants, who will serve as our local Comprehensive Airman Fitness champions, helping Reserve Citizen Airmen access helping services, regardless of their status. We have also worked on refining our Key Spouse program, which helps to build connections between our Reserve Citizen Airmen’s families and their units.

Along with investments in additional manpower, we have fundamentally changed the way in which we deliver professional military education. The pandemic forced us to rethink our training delivery, pushing several of our Professional Development Center courses online. This enabled us to clear a significant backlog of students waiting for the Chief Orientation Course. Many of our Professional Development Center courses have also been redesigned to focus on developing resilient leaders. We have also shifted our NCO Academy and Senior NCO Academy delivery to the virtual environment. Each of these courses has had some degree of curriculum redesign with the goal of helping leaders build trust within their organizations and make their units more resilient.

The boss and I have been fortunate enough to safely resume some of our travel. We have been in awe of every Reserve Citizen Airman we meet. We are especially thankful to those of you who have stepped forward to work on scalable grassroots solutions to develop resilient leaders across the command. We all have had a challenging year due to the pandemic. Each of you has been there for at least one of your teammates during this difficult time; and each of you make us proud to serve in the Air Force Reserve.