The Critical role of Junior Leaders

Air Force’s mission is to prepare air and space power in order to enable the joint force in peace and war. Generating strategic effects as part of a joint and integrated force is underpinned by our people, and developing an intelligent and skilled workforce is a key line of effort for Air Force. Central to this is the pivotal role that junior leaders play in guiding the workforce; not just leading their teams on tasks, but understanding the strategic circumstances, priorities and objectives that drive those tasks.

Junior Leaders and Command Teams

Command Teams are the critical leadership element at the tactical, operational and strategic levels.  Fundamentally, a Command Team is a distinguishable set of two or more people with assigned/specific roles who partner dynamically, interdependently and adaptively collaborate toward a common goal/objective/mission. Starting at the tactical level, junior leaders unite to form Command Teams (e.g. Section), with these evolving as they progress through their careers into strategic, Senior Leadership Teams. 

What is the Leader Enrichment Program?

The Leader Enrichment Program is run over a four month period, with two sessions each year (Mar - Jun and Aug - Nov). Based on an over-arching “Command Team” philosophy that fosters command relationships within junior leaders, the program delivers four modules: supporting senior leaders; military and national power; disruptive innovation; and beyond the future force. The program is delivered online via Adele, with each of the four modules culminating in a presentation to Deputy Chief of Air Force (DCAF), WOFF-AF and select principals. Module 3 (disruptive innovation) is delivered as a “shark tank” activity where the participants pitch innovative solutions to strategic problems to the “sharks” (DCAF, WOFF-AF, Director Jericho and Director ASPC). Alongside the core module themes, participants are immersed in professional and personal development initiatives such as coaching and mentoring, managing high-performance teams, and leading innovative thinkers.

The program empowers junior leaders by increasing their engagement with Air Force Senior Leaders to create shared vision and purpose. Defence needs leaders, technical experts and innovators who can readily adapt to new ideas and technologies. The ability to adapt is largely down to never giving up and continuing to train, educate and commit to continued professional development. The Leader Enrichment Program allows participants to step out of their comfort zone to test themselves and their ideas with like-minded participants. Fundamentally, the program is designed to foster a collaborative environment in which participants can test new ideas, learn quickly from failure and share lessons with others; while also giving voice to influential junior leaders which supports shared understanding.

What will this require from you?

To be motivated to succeed, have an interest in your own development and that of others, engaging in your willingness to contribute, have a strong desire to make a difference, and be open to diverse thoughts and ideas.

ASPC recognise that Units and Sections are extremely busy and permitting personnel time to conduct professional development activities can be difficult. The Leader Enrichment Program is predominantly conducted in participant's own time, with a commitment of 2-3 hours per week. Module presentations (approx 1 hour) are conducted during work hours. Additional online engagements (1 hour) with invited guest presenters will also be scheduled during work hours throughout each program; however, these are recorded so participants can view them when time and work load permit.

What are the Benefits?

The Leader Enrichment Program is an initiative that the Deputy Chief of Air Force and Warrant Officer of the Air Force are committed to: investing in our Junior Leaders is an investment in our future. The Leader Enrichment Program will:

  • Better connect junior leaders with Air Force the Air Force Senior Leadership, and do so on a regular basis.
  • Facilitate the building of a professional network of both peers and Air Force senior leaders.
  • Empower junior leaders to be positive agents for change within their sphere of influence.
  • Give enhanced voice for aviators and provide a junior leader’s perspective to senior leaders.
  • Translate Air Force strategic intent to the aviator workforce from a junior leader’s context.
  • Encourage dialogue and debate on Air Force policies, initiatives and expectations.
  • Provide junior leaders the opportunity to be positive leaders and more influential role models among their peers.

 What it is not

The Leader Enrichment Program is not an avenue to undermine the Chain of Command. It is not a forum for complaints or general grievances for which other processes and systems exist.

How to apply

Leader Enrichment Program participants are chosen through a competitive selection process. Nominations for Session 1 (Mar - Jun) open mid-Oct and close in Dec; nominations for Session 2 (Aug - Nov) open mid-Apr and close in Jun. Once cleared through the Unit CoC, nominations are to be submitted to airpower@defence.gov.au. Nominations for 2022 Session 1 are now open and close 10 Dec 21.