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hfriday
Member

Posts: 57
Unit: NER-VT-034

« on: May 11, 2019, 10:29:45 PM »

Having recently completed SLS and already being waitlisted for online CLC, I have recently been more actively considering the nature of leadership, both in CAP and in general. Having earned sergeant’s stripes back in the Army and taught social studies and coached football at the high school level for over a decade, I have some training and some practical experience.

Still, I’d like to hear what other CAP members have to say on the subject. Leading civilian volunteers requires a particularly deft and savvy touch, so CAP leadership is worthy of particular attention. What are folks’ leadership philosophies? What truisms have we learned over our years of collective service? Which “truisms” are, in our experience, misconceptions? What resources have we found helpful, and which ones have we found lacking?

I have no designs on taking a command position in the foreseeable future, but everyone in CAP is a leader at some time or another. Personally, I’d like to get better at it.
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arajca
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 4,382

« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2019, 11:12:12 PM »

CAP has FINALLY realized it needs to develop leadership training and education for seniors. That is an new-ish project.

A good source for leadership education for volunteer organizations is Red Cross leader training and volunteer fire department leader training. The National Fire Academy has some good books on the subject.
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OldGuy
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 630
Unit: TBKS

« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2019, 01:13:52 AM »

Five decades of opinions in brief:

Rudy Guiliani wrote a book called "Leadership" worth reading - https://www.amazon.com/Leadership-Rudolph-Giuliani/dp/1401359280 (And I am not a "fan" of his but the book is absolutely worth reading.)

Another good, easy read is "Dedication and Leadership" by Douglas Hyde - https://www.amazon.com/Dedication-Leadership-Douglas-Hyde/dp/0268000735

The Cadet Program reading list is a great, curated source - https://www.gocivilairpatrol.com/programs/cadets/library/l2l and you can download same.

Professional Military Reading Lists: Chief of Staff of the Air Force
https://amedd.libguides.com/c.php?g=566155&p=3906723

BTW practice in a laboratory environment, such as the Cadet Program is an awesome start, actual practice is the best. Volunteer to lead - we need you!

(And thank you!)
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NIN
Administrator

Posts: 5,259
Unit: of issue

« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2019, 02:36:58 PM »

<snip>
Still, I’d like to hear what other CAP members have to say on the subject. Leading civilian volunteers requires a particularly deft and savvy touch, so CAP leadership is worthy of particular attention. What are folks’ leadership philosophies? What truisms have we learned over our years of collective service? Which “truisms” are, in our experience, misconceptions? What resources have we found helpful, and which ones have we found lacking?

I always said "Leadership is a scientific art. Or its artful science. Either way, there are some people who are technically adept at it, but still terrible leaders. There are others who don't hardly follow the 'rules' and are excellent leaders."

You pegged it: "leading civilian volunteers requires a particularly deft and savvy touch."

I've been a unit commander now 6 times. I was "ok" the first three times, but it wasn't until I hit my 4th command of a squadron that I really found my stride. Or maybe my stride found me. Or the circumstances and my stride just happened to be "right."

My old commander and long time mentor, a retired ANG NCO and former infantry NCO in the Army, used to instill in us cadets "accomplish the mission, welfare of the troops" as our two leadership priorities. Well into my 30s and my 4th command, I realized "Really, we need to flip that on its head." In CAP, if you don't have the troops, you can't accomplish the mission. So that became really one of my first personal leadership truisms: "Welfare of the troops and accomplish the mission." Nobody is here cuz the UCMJ will call them a deserter if they're not.  They can give you a thumbs up/thumbs down on your leadership in a second with their feet.  So if you're not practicing "member centric leadership" (you'll see this term again), you might as well put a revolving door on your personnel file cabinet drawer.

Now, do I mean kiss everybody's butt and sing "Kumbayah" at meetings?  No. 

But what I do mean is be respectful of your volunteer member's time and commitments. Schedule activities and events as far in advance as possible, with as much info as possible, so people can plan to be there in their busy schedules. Hold training events that are well-prepared and worthwhile for the time commitment, not a mindnumbing, soul crushing box-checking exercise that makes people want to flee in droves. If you want people to respect the organization and what it does and stands for, strive for excellence in the things you do with your members.  If your can't keep senior members, maybe the Tuesday night "there I was, no kidding" hangar flying in the senior room is turning them off. Do something different. Do something that meets both their needs and the squadron's needs.

And make being in CAP a good time. Have a little fun. Enjoy yourselves.

That led to my 2nd truism: "The squadron the plays together stays together." That isn't much of a trite saying when its working. 3rd squadron I was in, we had a very active "after-meeting meeting." People from other squadrons (including a certain then-Major now-Brigadier Genera) used to drive 20-25 minutes just to come to our local hangout spot for a bite to eat after their meetings.  All of us hung out together in between meetings.  More squadron issues were solved over a couple cups of burnt coffee at a dingy Coney Island at 11pm than we ever took on during a squadron meeting (I kid, but seriously, we were all in our 20s and brimming with excitement..)  When I became commander, none of that changed. Truth be told: I inherited a great squadron from my mentor, but unfortunately a year and change into command I had to relocate out of state. It was a total bummer giving up that unit because we were doing great things all the time.

That 4th tour as commander, I rebuilt a unit from 3 active seniors and 12 active cadets the day I took command, to a 3 time squadron of merit and region squadron of distinction with a large and well functioning staff when I changed out. How? A lot of blood sweat and tears on my part (I took command the same day I moved into my newly built house... talk about over committed!), and doing a lot of individual training, mentoring and leadership of staff officers as they were recruited.  Finding people who had similar mindsets and backgrounds that I needed. Finding people I could trust to supervise a series of staff areas (ie. my deputy commanders and my XO). Putting people into roles with clear expectations and LOTS of clear communication occurring between people who trusted and respected each other.  I doubt anybody was unclear about the commander's intent when it came people trying to figure out how I wanted things done.

Brought me to my third trusim: "Have standards and adhere to them. Build an schedule and work to it. Communicate the standards and the schedule to all."

Once we started doing that, we started building an interesting unit culture too. We had a running joke the the Dunkin' Donuts across the street from the armory (the 1st after-meeting location) was "the Officer's Club." The Friendly's down the block became the "Officer's Club dining room."  And later, the Legion post where 4-5 of us were members became the "Officers Club - West." My deputy commander for seniors liked to host get-togethers at his house. It was a "for seniors" thing, but bring the family, the kids, the dog, whatever. There's a huge great room with video games, there's a gigantic wooden play structure out in back for the younger ones, etc. We're grilling burgers, dogs, steak tips, whatever.  He'd do that one or two times over the summer and it was a great time to socialize and get to know each other.  We'd also schedule an "end of the summer" dinner cruise on Lake Winnepeasaukee for the seniors with our spouses or significant others, mostly as a "thank you" to the spouses for putting up with our shenanigans.

Some of the "misconceptions" I've encountered? Geez, I'm not sure I've got that kind of time today to list them all.  :)



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McDaddy2003
Recruit

Posts: 22

« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2019, 03:44:23 AM »

I’m the deputy Commander for Cadets in my squadron. The varying aspects of leadership experience I have is based on my 5 years as a cadet, my experience as a USAF NCO with 16 years of service, and 4+years as a supervisor at my civilian career. The one commonality between these experiences is time management. To be effective as a leader, you have to put in extra time to be successful. As for leading seniors, although we have a small amount of adults (8 members), we focus more on quality than quantity. We communicate more between meetings than we do at the meetings. We’ve had seniors join, participate, and fade away to TX001 for lack of interest.

Being diverse in all 3 CAP Missions is a challenge in most if not all Composite squadrons. I am certain that is why we had seniors leave. But first and foremost, most folks who want to be in the program want to learn and advance. If any senior volunteering feels their time isn’t worthwhile, they will leave. It is a two way street for squadron leadership. Communication between members will identify these issues, and a breakdown in communication will hinder any aspirations any squadron will have.
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Kayll'b
Member

Posts: 55
Unit: PCR-WA-080

« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2019, 05:27:47 AM »

I’m the deputy Commander for Cadets in my squadron. The varying aspects of leadership experience I have is based on my 5 years as a cadet, my experience as a USAF NCO with 16 years of service, and 4+years as a supervisor at my civilian career. The one commonality between these experiences is time management. To be effective as a leader, you have to put in extra time to be successful. As for leading seniors, although we have a small amount of adults (8 members), we focus more on quality than quantity. We communicate more between meetings than we do at the meetings. We’ve had seniors join, participate, and fade away to TX001 for lack of interest.

Being diverse in all 3 CAP Missions is a challenge in most if not all Composite squadrons. I am certain that is why we had seniors leave. But first and foremost, most folks who want to be in the program want to learn and advance. If any senior volunteering feels their time isn’t worthwhile, they will leave. It is a two way street for squadron leadership. Communication between members will identify these issues, and a breakdown in communication will hinder any aspirations any squadron will have.

Most of this is also true for cadets.
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