CCLD staff brings core values to the masses

An outreach team from the Center for Character and Leadership Development here has traveled across the country to expand awareness of leadership development. (U.S. Air Force/Courtesy photo)

An outreach team from the Center for Character and Leadership Development here has traveled across the country to expand awareness of leadership development. (U.S. Air Force/Courtesy photo)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- For the past six months, the Center for Character and Leadership Development's strategic outreach team here has traveled throughout the country to expand the conversation on character development.

The team of six visited 15 organizations, briefing active duty service members and Reservists, corporations, federal agencies, community groups, and the academic community, on curriculum designed to put the Air Force core values into practice through self-discovery and sessions on becoming a leader of character.

"The goal of our strategic outreach initiatives is to provide powerful, pertinent and theoretically grounded curriculum that inspires and equips individuals, teams, and organizations to realize sustained character and leadership development," said Col. Joseph Sanders, CCLD director and Academy permanent professor. "While the target audience has historically been cadets, a renewed emphasis on developing all relevant stakeholders has expanded the focus to other internal and external groups that serve as force multipliers for character and leadership development."

Sessions include a personal assessment of the audience, insight on character and leadership development, and how individuals can use this knowledge in a personal and professional context.

"They offer each participant the opportunity to clarify and own their commitment and take the first step toward those commitments in our workshops," Sanders said.

A leader of character lives honorably by consistently practicing the virtues embodied in the core values, lifting others to their best possible selves, and elevating performance toward a common and noble purpose, he said.

"Our goal is to be the Air Force's Academy and elevate conversation about leadership development wherever it fits," Sanders said.

Lt. Col. Kevin Basik, the CCLD's assistant director of cadet development, said the team collects information from participants beforehand to discuss topics relevant to them.

"There is a lot of power in, 'here's what you said so let's talk about this,'" he said. "That's one way we're trying to make the sessions real and applicable."

Sanders and Basik presented curriculum at the Global Strike Commanders' Conference at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., in April and continue to receive presentation requests across the United States.

This month, the team was selected as the Cadet Wing Team of the Quarter for all recent outreach events.

"We are honored and humbled our efforts were recognized among these teams of outstanding service members," Basik said. "We never show up to other bases and organizations with the assumption that we at the Academy have it all figured out. We have our own challenges that remind us that character and leadership development is a never ending pursuit."

Potential and incoming basketball recruits here receive sessions on character development and leadership, said women's basketball assistant coach Lori Morris
Morris said the sessions are inspiring and give Academy recruits and their parents a deeper understanding of the Academy's mission and goals.

"It's about being the person you want to be, strive to be, and having your actions match up," she said. "It's a great reminder during the decision-making process."

The sessions hit home with people, Morris said.

"They include all aspects of life such as interpersonal relationships, the workforce, being the best possible leader and staying as true to your belief system and moral compass as possible," she said. "It is also an opportunity to remind one another that it's more important to do the right thing than the expedient thing."