Return to Leadership Doctrine and Policy page
Return to Leadership Competencies and Skills page
Air Force
Leadership Development Model

as of Jan 2004
from Air Force Senior Leader Management Office (AFSLMO)


See Air Force Doctrine Document 1-1, Leadership and Force Development, Appendix B, for the latest list of Air Force Enduring Leadership Competencies. The list below is replaced, and left here only for studying it in the context of developing the final list.

Tactical Level

    At the tactical, or the personal/direct level, Air Force members master their primary duty skills. They also develop experiences in applying those skills, and begin to acquire the knowledge and experience that will produce the competencies essential to effective leadership. Tactical leaders are the Air Force's technicians and specialists. At this level, airmen learn about themselves as leaders and how their leadership acumen can affect others. They are focused on honing followership abilities, influencing peers and motivating subordinates.

    They are learning about themselves and their impact on others in roles as both follower and leader. They are being assimilated into the Air Force culture and are adopting the core values of their profession. They are gaining a general understanding of team leadership and an appreciation for institutional leadership. The tactical level includes gaining knowledge and experience in a primary skill, combined with educational and leadership training exercises.

Operational Level

    At the operational, or organizational level, personnel should be able to understand the broader Air Force perspective and the integration of diverse people and their capabilities to execute operations. This level is where an Air Force member transitions from being a specialist to understanding Air Force integration.

    Based on a thorough understanding of themselves as leaders and followers, and how they influence others, they apply an understanding of organizational and team dynamics. They continue to develop personal leadership skills, while developing familiarity in institutional leadership competencies. The operational level includes continued broadening of experience and increased responsibility within a related family of skills.

Strategic Level

    At the strategic level, airmen combine highly developed occupational and enduring competencies to apply broad professional leadership capabilities. They develop and integrate deep understanding of Air Force missions and how tactics, techniques, procedures, technology, and people achieve synergistic results and desired effects, and also how the mission operates with interagency and multilateral relationships. At this level, an airman's required competencies transition from the integration of people with missions, to leading and directing exceptionally complex and multi-tiered operations.

    Based on a thorough understanding of themselves as leaders and followers, and how they apply organizational and team dynamics, they apply an in-depth understanding of leadership at the institutional and interagency levels. They achieve a highly developed, insightful understanding of personal and team leadership, while mastering their institutional leadership competencies. The strategic level includes challenges to gain breadth of experience and leadership perspective (e.g., logical pairings of skills; educational opportunities and training focused on the institutional AF; joint, inter-government, business and international views).


Enduring Leadership Competencies


Personal Leadership

  • Exercising Sound Judgment
    • Developing and applying broad knowledge and expertise in a disciplined manner, when addressing complex issues
    • Identifying interrelationships among issues and implications for other parts of the Air Force
    • Taking all critical information into account when making decisions

  • Adapting
    • Maintain composure in stressful situations
    • Work constructively and resourcefully under pressure
    • Demonstrate flexibility and resilience
    • Seek and accept constructive criticism
    • Balance change and continuity

  • Inspiring Trust
    • Establishing open, candid, and trusting relationships
    • Treat all individuals fairly and with respect
    • Maintain high standards of integrity
    • Place mission success over personal gain
    • Demonstrate loyalty to the unit, the mission, and the chain-of-command

  • Leading Courageously
    • Display both moral and physical courage
    • Maintain and project confidence in all situations
    • Project credibility and poise even when challenged
    • Show a willingness to take risks and act independently
    • Take personal responsibility and accountability for actions
    • Maintain focus, intensity and persistence, even under adversity

  • Demonstrating Tenacity
    • Take persistent, repeated action to overcome an obstacle
    • Keep with a difficult task even after meeting rejection
    • Be resilient

  • Leading by Example
    • Manage and publicly demonstrate personal and professional priorities that are consistent with Air Force Core Values and Competencies
    • Show subordinates that actions and words support one another
    • Embrace and demonstrate qualities of excellent followership

  • Assessing Self
    • Develop a personal leadership development plan that motivates me to pursue further improvement
    • Base this development on an increased awareness of personal strengths and weaknesses, values, performance, preferences, and styles
    • Understand how these impact my decisions and relationships with others
    • Continually learn

Leading People/Teams

  • Inspiring, Empowering and Exercising Authority
    • Create a climate that fosters personal investment and excellence
    • Nurture commitment to a common vision and shared values
    • Give people opportunity and latitude to grow and achieve
    • Set high expectations
    • Convey confidence in others’ ability to achieve them
    • Create a work environment that encourages continuous learning and creative thinking

  • Influencing & Negotiating
    • Promote ideas and proposals persuasively
    • Provide compelling rationales for arguments
    • Build a broad base of support
    • Adapt in conflict management strategies
    • Negotiate win/win solutions

  • Attracting, Developing & Retaining Talent
    • Identifying the competencies needed in the workforce
    • Attracting high-caliber people
    • Accurately appraising strengths and weaknesses of others
    • Providing constructive feedback , mentoring and coaching
    • Developing successors and talent pools
    • Addressing career-development and work-environment issues that affect retention, encourage physical and mental health

  • Fostering Effective Communication
    • Promote a free flow of information and communication (upward, downward, and across)
    • Listen actively
    • Encourage open expression of ideas and opinions
    • Express ideas clearly, concisely, and with impact – both orally and written

  • Fostering Teamwork & Collaboration
    • Promote collaboration and teamwork across organizational boundaries
    • Break down polarized perspectives
    • Collaborate as a team player; understanding systems/processes
    • Encourage and facilitating cooperation
    • Foster group identity
    • Work with others to achieve mutual goals
    • Share credit for success

  • Mentoring/Coaching/Counseling
    • Cultivating relationships in which you guide a less-experienced member in current and long-term aspirations and possibilities
    • Based this on Air Force requirements and personal knowledge of the talents, skills, and aspirations of the less experienced member
    • Promote a climate of mutual trust
    • Provide timely and accurate feedback

  • Building Relationships
    • Cultivating an active network of relationships inside and outside the Air Force
    • Relating to others in an approachable manner
    • Responding to the needs and concerns of others
    • Accepting and accommodating a variety of interpersonal styles

Leading the Institution

  • Shaping Strategy
    • Understand strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats, external developments, and trends
    • Develop strategies to achieve advantage
    • Identify critical goals and success factors
    • Pursue initiatives based on their fit with broader strategies

  • Translating Strategy
    • Communicate broad strategies into specific objectives and action plans
    • Create or modify structures, processes, and systems to support strategic priorities
    • Integrate efforts across functions and locations
    • Obtain and allocate needed resources; and assigning clear authority and accountability

  • Thinking/Working Across Boundaries
    • Work effectively across internal and external boundaries to provide integrated solutions
    • Demonstrate political savvy
    • Leverage cross-disciplinary knowledge
    • Encourage and facilitate integrity, cooperation, and group identity

  • Applying Resource Stewardship
    • Prioritize, acquire and administer human, financial, material, and information resources in a manner that instills public trust and accomplishes the organization's mission
    • Use new technology to enhance decision making
    • Understand and apply general management principles

  • Driving Execution
    • Monitoring mission performance
    • Provide resources and support to ensure that key strategies and results are achieved
    • Improve effectiveness
    • Hold people accountable for achieving their goals
    • Tackle problems before they become crises
    • Resolve them efficiently and effectively

  • Commanding
    • Achieve the mission by connecting people, supplies, and equipment
    • Have responsibility for the mission, people, equipment, and supplies
    • Model commitment and team spirit
    • Encourage and facilitate integrity, cooperation, and group identity

  • Creating and Demonstrating Vision
    • Clearly define and express a future for the group/organization based on both environmental (external) factors and Air Force institutional (internal) requirements

  • Driving Transformation
    • Set and pursue aggressive goals
    • Drive for results
    • Demonstrate a strong commitment to organizational success
    • Work to do what is best for the Air Force mission
    • Demonstrate entrepreneurship
    • Pursue both short- and long-term success

  • Driving Continuous Improvement
    • Create an environment that supports innovation, continuous improvement, and risk taking
    • Lead efforts to improve or streamline processes
    • Investigate and adopt best practices

  • Integrating Systems
    • Comprehend doctrinal concepts and procedures necessary to effectively assimilate diverse mission elements across varying environments to meet situational requirements
    • Appreciate the tight linkages between people, process and technology

Accessibility/Section 508