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Airmen learn to lead at all levels

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Airman 1st Class Hannah Countz (left), 21st Force Support Squadron career development journeyman, and Staff Sgt. Pontea Enriquez (right), 21st Medical Support Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of outpatient records, teach the John Maxwell 360 Degree Leadership Course Dec. 18, 2018, in the auditorium of the Peterson Education Building on Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. Students watched a series of video lectures by Maxwell, following each one with an in-depth discussion of the material and their individual strengths and weaknesses. (U.S. Air Force photo by Erinn Callahan)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Leadership is traditionally thought of as a top-down activity, with the leader leading and the follower following, John C. Maxwell wrote in his book “The 360 Degree Leader.”

The 360 Degree leader is unique in that he or she leads by influence rather than position, power or leverage, Maxwell said. They take the approach not only with those above and alongside them, but also with those who work under them.

Tech Sgt. Stephen Dimando, 561st Network Operations Squadron boundary protection supervisor, has teamed up with Airmen of all ranks to bring the leadership seminar to Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., and Schriever Air Force Base, Colo.

“I love gathering as much information about being a good leader as possible,” Dimando said. “It’s been so beneficial.”

The John Maxwell 360 Leadership Course will be held monthly at Peterson AFB, and quarterly at Schriever AFB, Dimando said. Rather than teach the class himself, Dimando is also offering the John Maxwell 360 Leadership Facilitator Training Course, which will allow Airmen to learn from their peers, regardless of rank.

About 40 civilians and Airmen alike gathered Dec. 11, 2018, in the Peterson Education Building auditorium for the facilitator training course. Two of those students – Airman 1st Class Hannah Countz, 21st Force Support Squadron career development journeyman, and Staff Sgt. Pontea Enriquez, 21st Medical Support Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of outpatient records – stood in front of the same auditorium Dec. 18, 2018, to teach a class of about 20.

“I’m really passionate about what they’re teaching here, which is that no matter your rank, position or age, you can develop leadership skills,” Countz said.

Students watched a series of video lectures by Maxwell, following each one with an in-depth discussion of the material. They dissected their strengths and weaknesses as a group, as Maxwell instructed.

One Airman admitted to struggling with worrying about what others thought of her, and she wasn’t alone – Countz acknowledged that trait as a weakness as well.

“I have to remind myself, ‘This is who I am. I’ve done my best here,’ she said.

The 360 Leadership Course teaches participants that any person within an organization can have influence on others, whether they work above them, below them or beside them. This is valuable advice for any organization, but especially for the military, Dimando said.

“At first I thought, ‘How am I going to be teaching master sergeants to be a leader?’” Dimando said. “However, we all have different experiences. You can teach what you know.”

For more information regarding the John Maxwell 360 Degree Leadership Course, contact Dimando at stephen.dimando@us.af.mil or 719- 692-3233.
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