The Shadow Program: an in-depth look at leadership

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Dieondiere Jefferies
  • 436th Airlift Wing

The 436th Airlift Wing command team took the first steps in implementing a leadership shadow program on Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, Sept. 27, 2023. The program held its first trial run and would allow Junior Enlisted Airmen to follow their senior leaders for a day, with the goal of giving them an in-depth look into the responsibilities of leadership on Dover AFB.

“Sometimes when our Airmen get into the monotony of the job, it's tough for them to remember how important their contribution is to the mission,” explained Chief Master Sgt. Carolyn Russell, 436th AW command chief. “Hopefully this [program will] give [Airmen] a broader perspective on what we do here at Dover AFB and how their particular job fits into the mission.”

The program was an idea Russell came up with after speaking to Senior Airman Klay Osler, 436th Maintenance Squadron, C-5M Super Galaxy crew chief, during Team Dover’s Air Force Ball 2023.

Osler was selected as the first Airman to take part in this program. Osler shadowed Russell throughout her daily tasks and responsibilities as Team Dover’s command chief.

I wanted to learn a little bit more about what happens at the level of our senior leaders, said Osler.

Osler's day began with a conversation with Russell discussing his job as a C-5 crew chief and his impact on the mission. Osler then attended a civic leaders meeting with Russell.
Civic leaders are advocates for Dover AFB and have a large influence in the Dover community. During the meeting, the command team and civic leaders discussed what events they can take part in to aid in community engagement.

I found the civic leaders meeting interesting because I never realized how in depth the planning would be for community engagement, said Osler.

Osler then shadowed the Top Three Meeting. During these meetings, Russell discusses the commander's intent and the roles each shop plays in supporting the mission. The meeting also prepares leaders for any upcoming changes that will impact their squadrons.

“I wanted to get an idea of the bigger picture of what's above our mission and see what everyone else does on base,” said Osler.

The leadership shadow program is currently in its initial stage and may go through several iterations before officially being established.

“This was a chance happening so we’ll have to work out a way to keep it routine and at a good battle rhythm, but this was a wonderful opportunity for myself as the command chief and [Osler] to gain insight into each other's world,” said Russell.