Cadet Element Leader

Element leader is the entry-level leadership position on the cadet staff.
Their key responsibility is to assist the flight commander and flight sergeant
by taking charge of the members of an element (4 or 5 cadets,
on average). Although the element leader occupies the lowest rung in
the cadet chain of command, their job is incredibly important because
they are the first person basic cadets should turn to for guidance.
Immediate Supervisor: Flight Sergeant
Typical Grades: C/A1C through C/TSgt

Key Duties
Prepare the Element for Inspection. One of your basic jobs is to make
sure your cadets are ready to participate in cadet events. How does
that duty relate to inspections? You want your cadets to perform well,
so you should spot-check their appearance and help them make any
last minute adjustments to their uniform.

Debrief the Element After Inspection. Following the inspection, check
to see if any cadets need help improving their uniform. Work with each
cadet and make sure they understand what they need to do to meet
the uniform standards. And of course, take a positive approach by
praising cadets who perform well.

Pass on Information. Take note of your squadron’s training schedule.
Make sure your cadets know what events are coming up and tell them
how to prepare. For example, if you’re told that next week will be physical
fitness training, remind cadets to bring their PT uniforms. In short,
as an element leader, always keep your people informed. Talk with
them between meetings through emails and IMs.

Motivate the Element. Attitudes are contagious. Keep a positive attitude
and lead by example. Encourage cadets to study before tests.
Cheer them on during PT. Congratulate them when they earn promotions.
Get to know your cadets well enough so that you can read their
moods. If you notice a cadet is becoming frustrated or discouraged,
motivate them and help them get back on track.

Lead in Drill. You’ll be called on to fulfill two key responsibilities in drill.
First, because you fall-in on the right side of the formation, your cadets
will base their alignment off of you. If your alignment is off, you will
cause the whole element to be off, too. Second, the flight sergeant may
call on you to coach your cadets as they learn new drill movements.
This aspect of your job requires you to become an expert in drill and
also a patient leader who can help cadets learn drill commands one
step at a time.

Answer Questions. Let your cadets know that if they have a question,
you are the first person they should turn to for answers.

Keep Your Superiors Informed. Tell your flight sergeant how your
cadets are doing. If they need extra time for training, or if they have
questions you do not know how to answer, ask your flight sergeant for
help. If you notice a major safety issue, or you think one of your cadets
is facing a serious problem, let a senior member know right away.

Prepare for the Future: Flight Sergeant

  • Ask your flight sergeant or first sergeant to help you develop a
    command voice.
  • Study the drill manual to learn what foot each command is called on.
  • Perfect your uniform and military bearing.