Spangdahlem class develops NCOs into effective leaders

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Valerie Seelye
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Spangdahlem NCOs are attending the Leaders of the Future course, an ongoing program intended to develop leadership and management skills here.

The course started in 2018 and is currently in its third iteration. Each course is seven weeks long and is scheduled to take place four times per year, targeting staff sergeants and new technical sergeants nominated by their supervision.

“We target people who are showing some influence within their peer group,” said Chief Master Sgt. Joseph Bogdan, 52nd Civil Engineer Squadron operations flight chief. “That could even be a negative influence, honestly.”

The goal of the course focus on leadership skills at the NCO level.

“My personal feeling over the past decade is we’ve kind of left them out,” Bogdan said. “A lot of NCOs were kept at their job, while a lot of Airmen were already being taught how to be the next chief master sergeant of the Air Force. Senior NCOs were mentoring Airmen versus NCOs, so this is a concerted effort to help develop them. We’re trying to fill that gap.”

Instead of “death by PowerPoint,” the course consists of honest discussions facilitated by senior NCOs. A new topic is discussed each week, such as leadership philosophy, ethical leadership, diversity, and managing change. The students are each assigned a chief master sergeant to interview and learn from.

“It’s a great network and relationship-building opportunity,” Bogdan said.

Students are also taught the importance of human soft skills, such as understanding people, relationships and perspectives.

“The entire course talks about what you want out of life,” Bogdan said. “Your meaning, purpose, and values impact your personal leadership philosophy.”

The students are encouraged to learn from each other’s experiences.

“I benefited from the course because it gave me the opportunity to learn from other shops and how they lead,” said Staff Sgt. Cassondra Helmuth, 52nd CES administration programs NCO in charge, and prior student. “I will integrate what I learned into my job by being more open to different leadership styles and ideas for change.”

Lessons learned from the course can also be applied outside of the military.

“Many students say they thought leadership was supposed to be a stove-piped idea of how to lead,” Bogdan said. “Hopefully they’ll walk out of here with a good vision of how they want to lead on their own – whether that’s in or outside of the Air Force. It’s something you should be able to take anywhere.”