Developing Self: Foundational competencies for all Airmen

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  • Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs

The Air Force has identified 24 Airman’s foundational competencies for all Airmen, as part of a systematic competency-based approach to develop the force.  These competencies are universally applicable to all Airmen and are categorized into four groups: Developing Self, Developing Others, Developing Ideas and Developing Organizations.

In this series on Airman’s foundational competencies, the first group explained is Developing Self. 

Developing Self includes the following foundational competencies: accountability, perseverance, communication, decision making, information seeking, flexibility, resilience, initiative, and self-control.

Accountability is when an Airman demonstrates reliability and honesty; takes responsibility for actions and possesses behaviors of self and team.

Though an Airman’s rank, position, and even occupation may change, to be successful, accountability must be present throughout their career.  Accountability includes looking after wingmen, upholding Air Force standards and core values, keeping promises, admitting mistakes, and taking personal responsibility for the team’s work.

Observable behaviors for accountability include leads by example, takes personal responsibility for unit performance and models professionalism and excellence in every endeavor

When accountability is present, Airmen make decisions even when they are difficult. 

In addition to accountability, the category of Developing Self includes eight more competencies

- Perseverance is when an Airman displays grit in the accomplishment of difficult long-term goals.

- Communication means an Airman effectively presents, promotes and prioritizes various ideas and issues both verbally and non-verbally through active listening, clear messaging and tailoring information to the appropriate audience.

- Decision Making is about making well-informed, effective and timely decisions that weigh situational constraints, risks and benefits.

- Information Seeking Airmen demonstrate an underlying curiosity; desire to know more about things, people, one’s self, the mission or issues; an eager, aggressive learner. Information seeking requires personal initiative.

- Flexibility describes an Airman who adapts to and works with a variety of situations, individuals or groups effectively.

- Resilience means an Airman negotiates, manages and adapts to significant sources of stress or trauma.

- Initiative is doing more than is required or expected to improve job results. Initiative as a foundational competency means an Airman takes action appropriately without being prompted. With initiative, an Airman strives to do a better job and thinks of creative ways to complete the job.

- Self-Control means keeping emotions under control and restraining negative actions when under stress. Self-control begins with emotional intelligence by knowing how to identify our own emotions and respond positively. Knowing what to do if you feel frustrated, angry, overwhelmed, anxious and sad is valuable for positive outcomes.

Understanding where an Airman scores on individual Foundational Competencies will help an Airman take ownership of his or her development. See image graphics to view competency levels of each developing-self competencies. 

Airmen who want more information on the Airman’s Foundational Competencies and to participate in a self-assessment can log in to MyVector and select Air Force Competencies from the main menu. The myVector competency assessment tool also allows Airmen to request feedback from their supervisors and/or 360-degree feedback from subordinates, peers and higher-ranking members. Also, the member is provided links to educational resources to address areas for improvement.

The Air Education and Training Command Directorate of Operations and Communications Competencies Division methodically developed the Airman’s Foundational Competencies, which are a combination of knowledge, skills, abilities and other characteristics that manifest in observable and measurable patterns of behaviors.