ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
Since the first iteration of the new NCO Leadership Development Course last September, Air Force Reserve Command’s Professional Development Center here has continued to make improvements to the course to ensure NCOs are set up for success.
“We researched, updated and added to the curriculum throughout the year,” said Dave Viskochi, PDC curriculum development manager. “We have an idea of how everything should look, but when we see it delivered, we can make any improvements that need to be made.”
One big change to the last iteration afforded students the opportunity for further self-development, setting the foundation for the rest of the week-long course.
“We start off with learning about one’s self,” said Chief Master Sgt. Christina Bicknell, an NCO Leadership Development Course instructor. “The students complete a 16-type personality test which is something we’ve never done before. From there, we go into their learning style, why it’s important, and how it applies to them and their Airmen.”
Students said they could see the benefits of learning about themselves early in the course.
“I discovered I’m more of a people person,” said Tech. Sgt. Samantha Davenport, a recent student who is assigned to the Air Reserve Personnel Center, Buckley Space Force Base, Colorado. “This helps us understand what type of personality we’re dealing with because we know our own. I can take this tool back to my unit and maybe it will help us understand each other better.”
Strengthening the communication bridge between NCOs and their Airmen is a primary focus for the week, and the best way to accomplish this is through application and practice.
“We show them where they can find information, how to fill it out, what it’s for and how to present it,” Bicknell said. “They have a classmate portray an Airman for our scenario-based activities, then students build data briefs, fitness assessments and several other records for the fictitious Airman to complete a feedback session.”
Despite the fast-paced learning environment, some of the students stepped into the Airman role a little too well.
“There are some really good actors among my peers,” said Staff Sgt. Douglas Restrepo, a recent student who is assigned to the 94th Airlift Wing, Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Georgia. “They’ll switch things up during our interactions, but I can recognize what they’re doing and adapt since I understand my leadership style.”
For the remainder of the week, students go through a circular process of researching, reflection, application and delivery, all in preparation for their capstone presentation on Friday.
“This five-minute elevator speech is completed in front of a panel with senior leadership,” said Senior Master Sgt. Virginia Wynn, PDC Enlisted Professional Development manager. “They have the chance to stand up and speak about the type of Airman they were before the course, what they learned during the course, and what their six-month goal is. The chiefs on the leadership panel get re-blued because they’re pumped up seeing Airmen who want to do well and what their next steps are.”
Even with all of the changes made, Wynn said she has one favorite element that separates this course from others offered by the Air Force.
“Day five is the day I enjoy the most because they have the chance to learn about Air Force Reserve history,” she said. “Most other courses are active-duty centric and they majority of our Airmen aren’t aware of our accomplishments. This is definitely a great addition to the curriculum. It’s all about being proud of who you are, your history and what we’ve accomplished as the Air Force Reserve.”
Aside from providing the tools and resources to be a supervisor, Bicknell said she hopes this improved course will empower the younger generation to move forward and drive change.
“There is a John Maxwell quote that I’ve always loved,” she said. “’A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.’ It is never more true with how we learn and apply and then send them forward to show the way to their Airmen.”