Implementing change: Building tomorrow's leaders

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jacob Stephens
  • 355th Wing Public Affairs

Professional military education is critical for the development of Airmen and the Air Force as a whole, and as Airmen must, PME must also be adaptable to prepare for tomorrow’s fight.


The team at the Chief Master Sgt. Carl E. Beck Airman Leadership School at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, led by Tech. Sgt. Andrew Denney, has developed a lesson plan that is being added to the ALS curriculum Air Force-wide.


“The lesson plan is focused on emotional intelligence,” said Tech. Sgt. Andrew Denney, DM ALS instructor. “I got the opportunity to send the lesson plan to the Barnes Center, and they picked it up and are implementing it into the curriculum at all 68 ALS school houses in the Air Force.”


The lesson focuses on the fundamentals of emotional intelligence, including self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management.


“Emotions are something that are with us all and impact everything we do,” Denney said. “By better understanding our emotions, we can create a better work environment and culture in our organizations. By giving our youngest supervisors a foundational understanding of emotional intelligence, it will better set them up to build better relationships with their Airmen.”


ALS is the first step of enlisted PME and is a requirement in becoming a front-line supervisor in the Air Force. Teaching critical personal skills, such as emotional intelligence, creates more effective supervisors who can better connect with and take care of their subordinates.


“The combination of passion and practicality that [Tech.] Sgt. Denney possesses has helped accelerate this lesson plan into being implemented,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Joshua Terasas, DM ALS instructor. “His background as a supervisor allows him to know what is realistic and what is not. He has a great ability to help people navigate the stressors of life and understands the issues of today’s Staff Sergeant, so he is working hard to ensure they all have the tools they need to be successful.”


Using tools provided to him, such as tuition assistance for his master’s degree and PME courses, Tech. Sgt. Denney has continued to develop himself both personally and professionally.


“Early in my career, I was a very emotionally ignorant person,” Denney said. “My emotional ignorance and impulsive nature got me into a lot of trouble. My path to self-discovery was understanding what the root cause of my issues were, and it was that I did not know how to handle my emotions.”


Outside of his formal education, Sergeant Denney also learned many critical lessons when he had disciplinary issues early in his career. He used these potentially negative situations as a foundation to learn and develop himself, as well as those around him.


“Through the things I have read and learned, I have become a better person,” Denney said. “My life, career and relationships got better once I really learned to deal with my emotions. In this, I realized a lot of other people could use this information to make their life better, which is part of what led to this lesson plan being created.”


Incorporating lessons learned into this new curriculum is going to impact all of the Airmen in the force, whether directly or indirectly, by developing more effective front-line supervisors and leaders.


“We have to continue to develop as leaders because the old-school style of leadership is not as effective for today’s force,” Terasas said. “With this emotional intelligence understanding, we are teaching our Airmen to lead in a way that gets people working harder than they were while also being way happier.”


Airmen are the Air Force’s most valuable asset and it is the responsibility of all Airmen to help encourage and develop those around them. Tech. Sgt. Denney took this charge in combination with his knowledge, passion and experience to lead an Air Force-wide change.


“I am humbled to be in a position that can help the concepts of emotional intelligence get out to our Airmen,” Denney said. “While this is just the beginning, I am grateful our curriculum is moving more in that direction to help give us tools to navigate the world and encourage others to do the same.”


Tech. Sgt. Denney and the DM ALS team are accelerating change in Air Force PME, in all enlisted supervisors, and are ultimately creating a more lethal and resilient force today for tomorrow’s high-end fight.