A previous version of this story misstated who will use the list of leadership qualities in critiques. They will be incorporated into feedback for all officers and enlisted airmen, regardless of rank.

Officers and enlisted airmen looking to move up the career ladder will soon be judged on a slate of 10 leadership traits the Air Force wants to foster in its ranks.

Dubbed “Airman Leadership Qualities,” the list is part of a broader push to drill down into what makes competent airmen and how to better incentivize proficiency. It covers job proficiency, initiative, adaptability, inclusion and teamwork, emotional intelligence, communication, stewardship, accountability, decision-making and innovation.

Those characteristics will be incorporated into the feedback airmen get from their raters, who grade them on their current performance and future potential in the service, starting March 31. The list is a tool to critique all airmen at any rank, and will become part of a new officer and enlisted evaluation system slated to roll out later in 2022.

Certainly, many airmen who succeed already embody those traits in everyday life. The Air Force wants to make clear that all of its members should be not only good at their jobs, but good people as well.

“We want our airmen to strive for continual, meaningful growth,” Chief Master Sgt. Derek Crowder, the senior enlisted leader in the Air Force’s personnel policy shop, said in a release Monday. “Implementing these qualities for all airmen encourages deliberate feedback in areas to align with what we value.”

The Air Force also argues that because those qualities create strong, capable teams, they’re also needed to succeed in war.

On the enlisted side, airmen will be scored on their readiness for promotion based on how well they performed in the past year, regardless of how long they’ve been eligible to move up.

It also evens the playing field between airmen who are newly eligible to advance and those who have waited longer, who previously could earn fewer points despite having more experience.

“Airmen with the same level of performance in any particular year [will] earn the same point and experience values,” the Air Force said in October.

Scoring changes will take effect starting with promotions to staff sergeant and technical sergeant next year.

“I’m a big fan of allowing local leaders and commanders to be able to best assess who in their ranks is ready for that next promotion,” Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force JoAnne Bass told Air Force Times in August. “I want to be able to see the data and the analysis that the working groups and the people on the ground are going to come out with.”

Rachel Cohen is the editor of Air Force Times. She joined the publication as its senior reporter in March 2021. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Frederick News-Post (Md.), Air and Space Forces Magazine, Inside Defense, Inside Health Policy and elsewhere.

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