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Keesler LEADS: Making our leaders better

U.S. Air Force Chaplain (Capt.) Darrel Schrader, 81st Training Wing chaplain, delivers instruction to students for an "A Life-Mapping Experience" exercise during the Leadership Enhancement and Development Seminar inside the Airman Leadership School building at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, Nov. 5, 2019. The three-day course, which is open to all supervisors, is meant to enhance effective communication, skillful interpersonal interaction and emotional intelligence in the military environment by using an active learning format that emphasizes discussion  and minimizes lecture. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

U.S. Air Force Chaplain (Capt.) Darrel Schrader, 81st Training Wing chaplain, delivers instruction to students for an "A Life-Mapping Experience" exercise during the Leadership Enhancement and Development Seminar inside the Airman Leadership School building at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, Nov. 5, 2019. The three-day course, which is open to all supervisors, is meant to enhance effective communication, skillful interpersonal interaction and emotional intelligence in the military environment by using an active learning format that emphasizes discussion and minimizes lecture. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --

Front line supervisors are vital to the Air Force mission. NCOs and lieutenants serve as role models and mentors to the Airmen under their supervision. The Leadership Enhancement Development Seminar was developed to further develop the skills of front line supervisors here at Keesler.

“There was recognition that our front line supervisors weren’t getting the practical training that they needed,” said Maj. Daniel Lambert, 81st Comptroller Squadron commander. “The wing wanted to create something to prepare them with the tools they needed.”

Intended to supplement Airman Leadership School, LEADS takes a different, more unconventional approach to educating students. A facilitator and mentor are always present to help guide conversations in topics such as effective communication, personal relations and emotional intelligence.

“It’s not just one person lecturing and students listening,” said Robert Smith, 81st Force Support Squadron force development flight chief. “In class we’re all collaborating and learning from each other’s past experiences. We’re influencing students to change their leadership approach, enhance their problem-solving skills and to reinforce the correct things they’ve already been doing.”

The course has improved since its launch in late 2019 by making changes based off student surveys.

“We’ve been making minor improvements to get the best possible class,” said Smith. “We’ve now been recognized as highly effective and this course has been identified as an Air Education and Training Command best practice.”

Even acting as a mentor, Lambert has benefited from LEADS.

“Being a mentor in this course has renewed my pride in our Airmen and NCOs,” said Lambert. “They’re excited to lead, they’re dedicated and motivated. They simply need the tools to execute what they’ve set out to do and that’s why I’m here.”