As an Air Cadet we will give you plenty of opportunities to develop confidence and leadership skills. The ability to lead others is an essential skill that will help you in later life.
The development of leadership skills is one of the key aims of the Air Cadet Organisation. Every activity that we offer to our cadets has an element that allows cadets to step forward to develop how they lead others. The staff team on your Squadron will also be watching you to identify opportunities for development of your skills.
The ability to work as part of, and command a team of cadets are essential skills that every cadet develops during their time as a cadet. As such we put you in situations where these skills are challenged – the leadership task is a staple part of every Squadron Training Programme.
One of the unique ways that the Air Cadet Organisation helps you to develop leadership skill is with the use of leadership tasks. These are designed with a specific objective (getting the team from point A to point B without touching the ground for example), and several restrictions – for example a time limit for success. These limitations are designed to make you think about the solution first before jumping in to the task at hand. A good leader will identify the strengths of the team and put them to use within the task whilst taking on board their feedback and suggestions. Don’t worry if you fail a leadership task, the important point is more about learning what you did well and what can be developed on for next time.
After some time as a cadet on the Squadron it may have been noticed by the Squadron staff that your leadership skills are developing to a stage where you are ready to assist the younger and less experienced cadets on the Squadron. At this point you may be promoted to become a Cadet Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO). This promotion is based on merit and dependant on your uniform turnout, your behaviour on the Squadron and how you interact with cadets and staff to name but a few.
Cadets within Essex Wing have a number of development courses they can attend to help them develop their skills as an NCO, from organisation skills, presentation ability to uniform upkeep and drill. Over the course of a weekend you will spend time working with cadets from other Squadrons to identify what you need to do to further develop your skills back on Squadron.
The longer you remain a cadet with the ACO the more opportunities to lead cadets may present themselves. Depending on your abilities you may be promoted further as a cadet to a stage where you are responsible for developing the skills of all the cadets and NCO’s beneath you on a Squadron. By this stage the staff team will work closely with you to support you in this role. You can even gain National Governing Body qualifications allowing you to lead events which other cadets can attend.
The ACO operates a number of national leadership courses where you spend time residentially working on your leadership skills with cadets nationwide. Some cadets apply for and are lucky enough to be selected for the coveted Junior Leader course.
The JL’s course is designed to challenge you from the outset and is structured to test your confidence, leadership skills, physical fitness, teamwork, physical fitness and mental capacity. The course will take 8 months to complete over a number of weekends and weeks throughout this period. You will develop a wide range of abilities including presentation skills, teamwork, self-sufficiency and interview skills.
After completing a gruelling graduation week you will be presented with a maroon lanyard to wear on your blue uniform along with the JL “Drop Zone Flash” for your camouflaged uniform. Cadets who successfully complete the Junior Leaders course are also eligible for ILM (Institute of Leadership Management) qualifications.