Yokota Air Base, Japan --
The Air Force is more competitive now than it has ever been; much like the corporate world in the civilian sector. Because of this, no matter the rank, Airmen are always looking for ways to distinguish themselves from their peers.
While there are many military programs and courses aimed at strengthening military leaders and supervisors, the Total Force Leadership Development Program is designed to teach beyond military specific material and promote a well-rounded total force.
The TFLDP is a course taught by various members of Team Yokota whose goal is to develop more well-rounded individuals and life-style leaders. They help people understand how to better navigate various situations they may encounter in their personal and professional lives.
“Our goal is to give people insight and perspective to help them be stronger parents, spouses, leaders and people,” said Senior Master Sgt. Gabriel Lewis, 5th Air Force superintendent and TFLDP lead facilitator. “It’s important to develop purposeful people; whose lifestyle leadership and well-rounded development skills translates to better work centers, homes and lives.”
The TFLDP is for everyone, military of any rank, civilian employees, spouses, anyone is encouraged to participate in learning and also share their experiences. The course is discussion based and is supplemented with John C. Maxwell’s corporate leadership training material designed for Fortune 500 companies.
The material covered includes various topics such as: generation gaps, emotional intelligence, time management and conflict resolution management. These discussions are facilitated by the instructors to emphasize how the concepts covered can be related and translated to aspects of daily life.
“Being able to see the light come on in someone when we’re facilitating is rewarding,” said Senior Master Sgt. Sherlock Walker, 374th Communications Squadron operations superintendent and TFLDP program lead. “Then to see people grow, the way they interact in their work centers and personal lives and what they are able to gain, that’s why we keep doing it.”
Walker and Lewis started the TFLDP program in November 2016. They recall struggling to get support for the course at first due to its non-military focus; but soon the program took off and now the monthly TFLDP course is normally filled up within 24 hours of becoming available. They have certified 18 TFLDP facilitators and taught 450 members of Team Yokota since the course began.
The TFLDP is different; while most Air Force courses focus on specific military topics such as: AFIs, using your chain of command or how to fill out specific forms, the TFLDP has very little military specific material. Military members who attended the course are even asked, if possible, to attend in business casual to help the participants feel more comfortable discussing topics openly with one another, allowing everyone to engage each other on equal ground.
“This course takes a different perspective from what most military courses do,” said Staff Sgt. Jessie Bustos, 374th Mission Support Group, enlisted executive officer and TFLDP attendee. “It focuses on being a better person through personal and professional enhancement which makes you better for your unit, office, family or the Air Force.”
According to Master Sgt. Tyler Meyenburg, 374th Medical Support Squadron, nutrition and pharmacy flight chief and facilitator course instructor, all of the facilitators who teach the TFLDP were once like Bustos, they attended the course once and felt it is an important piece of development that is often overlooked in military education but can benefit everyone.
It takes a minimum of four months to get certified to become a TFLDP facilitator, and whether you are a civilian, military or spouse anyone can become a facilitator.
“As a facilitator you get to know the material so much more and it has helped me grow as a parent, spouse and a supervisor in so many ways,” said Master Sgt. Shanette Labonte, 374th CES, water fuels system maintenance shop chief. “Anyone who feels they can bring something to the table can become a facilitator.”
The TFLDP has courses once a month at Yokota’s Personal Development Center. The program also offers an in-shop course where facilitators come into a work center to give specific education for a unit.
To register for a seminar or sign up to become a facilitator, contact the PDC at DSN: 315-225-7829.