AFA’s Doolittle Leadership Center Launches Leadership Training Workshops
March 31, 2023 | By Patrick Reardon
In February, AFA’s Doolittle Leadership Center (DLC) held its first Leader Development Workshop hosting 27 cadets and two cadre members from Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (AFROTC) Detachment 890 at Graves Mountain Lodge in Syria, Va. A joint effort between AFA, University of Virginia, Liberty University, and James Madison University, the training was led by DLC director, Patrick Donley, and Terry Cook, author of the book, “Lead, Develop, Care: Shaping a Different Kind of Leader.”
The workshop equipped officer candidates with a practical leadership model they could apply immediately and carry with them throughout their careers.
“Effective leadership is a force multiplier,” said Donley a retired Air Force colonel. “Because of the complicated strategic environment in which we find ourselves, we need leaders to demonstrate capabilities that we haven’t trained them to possess. Concepts such as Mission Command, Mission-Type Orders, and Multi-Capable Airmen demand skills most leaders haven’t been taught or seen modeled. Accelerating change is critical, so we must invest more heavily in our leaders’ abilities—especially our tactical level leaders.”
Unlike many training efforts that focus on providing various tools or explaining theoretical underpinnings of leadership, the Lead, Develop, Care model is a simple, pragmatic framework for effective, proactive leadership. According to its creator, Terry Cook, “The leadership model is especially helpful to the leader in three key ways. First, it takes the mystery out of leading by providing a simple, overall framework that focuses on the three primary responsibilities of leadership. Second, it enables leaders to be intentionally proactive in their leadership rather than merely reactive. Third, it provides a practical algorithm that enables leaders to process effectively leadership opportunities and challenges rather than merely reaching into a grab bag hoping for the right solution.”
Donley, a 31-year Air Force Security Forces officer and former Mission Support Group Commander, agreed.
“When I first learned the model in 2019 as a colonel, I was both excited and disappointed … excited because I felt this approach could transform my leadership effectiveness, and disappointed that I hadn’t been taught it before. I’m a firm believer that this approach will dramatically improve leaders’ capabilities in the Air Force and Space Force, as well as in families, businesses, and volunteer organizations.”
To integrate instruction, scenario analyses, personal leadership application, along with various team-building activities, the Doolittle Leadership Center hosted the workshop at a rural mountain lodge. “We wanted to get the students outside of their normal routines so they could have the space to focus on the content and its application to their current leadership challenges,” said Jared Harrison, operations manager of the DLC.
In post-workshop survey, cadets praised the value of their training. Col. Jason Bell, Commander of AFROTC Detachment 890 who attended with his cadets, said the focused training opportunity reinforced his mission. “The cadets were really pleased and felt the leadership workshop was worth voluntarily giving up their weekend to attend,” he said. “The only two pieces of negative feedback I heard was, ‘Why didn’t they learn this earlier’ and ‘why weren’t all cadets [instead of just 3rd- and 4th- year cadets] invited to attend?’”
“Lead, Develop, Care“ can apply to anyone. Harper Alford, AFA Richmond Chapter president, who attended the training, called it a “terrific learning experience. While my USAF time was long ago, I can use this leadership format in projects that I manage for AFA and other organizations.”
The DLC has already scheduled additional workshops for company grade officers and noncommissioned officers at several Air Force and Space Force bases and is working to expand the training to senior enlisted members and commanders. “My hope is that those who receive the training will take this model with them as they promote to higher positions within the services, so that this approach eventually permeates throughout the military,” Donley explained. “I have no doubt this model will make a positive difference.”
If your organization is ready to take its leaders to the next level by hosting a Lead, Develop, Care workshop, contact the Doolittle Leadership Center.