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Document created: 15 November 02
Air & Space Power Journal - Winter 2002

The Sources of 
Leadership Doctrine 
in the Air Force

Shannon A. Brown, PhD

Editorial Abstract: The primary elements of requirements, theory, and lessons learned have played a vital role in producing leadership doctrine for today’s Air Force. Dr. Brown summarizes how Air Force leadership doctrine has evolved over the years.

Contrary to popular thought, future warfare, however automatic, will necessitate more intelligence, skill, courage, and responsibility by the men using the weapons than was ever necessary in the past. Only sound leadership will insure that air force units will successfully accomplish their tasks.

-Air Force Manual (AFM) 35-15, Leadership,
-December 1948

Writing in the summer 2001 issue of Aerospace Power Journal, Maj Steve Michael asserts that “aerospace leaders develop their fundamental war-fighting beliefs from a study of doctrine.”1 Given the fact that the Air Force has not had a published leadership doctrine since the mid-1960s, Major Michael’s observation raises a number of important questions: How did Air Force leadership doctrine evolve after 1947? In the absence of a formal Air Force–wide leadership doctrine, what concepts, principles, and theories did the service adopt or appropriate from external sources to inform the leadership beliefs of air and space leaders? This article explores these questions by examining key Air Force leadership publications and by tracing continuities, differences, and omissions.

What we discover from a quick review of the old manuals is that the service’s understanding of its overarching mission has always shaped leadership doctrine and that context and environment have heavily influenced both leadership and mission. These findings are not surprising. But we also discover that civilian academic research on leadership exerted a strong influence on Air Force leadership doctrine and leader-development publications; perhaps more importantly, Air Force leadership doctrine drew on new and emerging trends in civilian research and theory concerning leadership. In the absence of official Air Force leadership doctrine, civilian writing on leadership became a de facto substitute for institutional guidance.

In order to understand how best to produce a leadership doctrine for today’s airmen, one must consider the historical sources of Air Force leadership doctrine and the ways in which roles, missions, and environment have shaped the way the service has framed discussions of leadership and leader-follower relations. Three primary elements of leadership doctrine exist- requirements, theory, and lessons learned. From the earliest days of the service, the requirements of Air Force leadership doctrine were expressed in terms of an institutional mission, which provided the conceptual framework for leadership objectives and practices. Lessons learned illustrated specific ideas about requirements and the real-world application of theory. Academic and commercial leadership publications, supplemented by scientific and psychological research, provided the intellectual foundation for Air Force leadership doctrine.

The academic study of leadership is a relatively new field; its origins date back to the 1930s, when classic writings on military leadership were subjected to close scrutiny by men seeking the answers to age-old questions: What makes a good leader? Are leaders born or made? After World War II, leadership studies changed their focus as new approaches and techniques were applied to explore these questions. As the study of leadership evolved, the Air Force drew theory, lessons, and guidance from the civilian academy to promote leadership doctrine and training concepts appropriate to the service’s mission- the effective matching of theory with requirements. The survey that follows shows that the history of Air Force leadership doctrine, perhaps more than that of the other services, is a story of dynamic appropriation and adaptation.

Leading Airmen, Not Soldiers

After World War II, the newly independent Air Force sought to establish its identity separate from the Army. Drawing on lessons learned from the war, the leadership of the new service recognized the importance of developing a coherent basic doctrine that emphasized the uniqueness of the Air Force’s capabilities.2 Senior Air Force leaders, understanding that creation of a distinctive leadership doctrine represented an important step in this direction, published AFM 35-15, Leadership, in 1948, after much discussion and revision.3

A significant departure from the established field-manual format for Army leadership, AFM 35-15 outlined the mission, roles, functions, and guiding principles of the Air Force and incorporated details of the latest scientific findings on leadership. The manual abandoned the Army’s standard “traits and principles” approach to the presentation of leadership doctrine in favor of a more nuanced interpretation of the leader’s role in a military unit. Psychology formed an important part of AFM 35-15, which encouraged the leader to become “a human engineer” by understanding and manipulating the fundamental drives, instincts, and fears of subordinate airmen.4 Borrowing heavily from recent wartime studies of personality and performance, it included an entire annex dedicated to surveying the state of psychology.5 The manual advised that collaborative leader-follower relationships were crucial to the successful execution of the highly technical work of the service. It identified psychological principles as the key to maintaining good relationships with subordinates because relying solely on the legal authority derived from command was not enough to ensure the successful execution of the Air Force’s overarching mission, defined broadly as “readiness” and “victory in air battle.”6

One could not help noticing an air of uncertainty about the future in AFM 35-15. The definitions of readiness and victory in air battle emphasized the value of strategic bombing and the importance of air superiority to success in war- airpower applications familiar to the generation of airmen who served in the European and Pacific theatres.7 The writings that formed the basis of this new Air Force leadership doctrine encouraged leaders-in-training to give full consideration to the importance of “discipline and morale” to ensure readiness to carry out bombing and air superiority missions.8 Readiness was both a mission and goal unto itself; however, AFM 35-15 identified neither opponents nor peer competitors or made any explicit statements about what the service might be called upon to do in order to carry out its readiness and victory missions.9

This emphasis on mission- however vague- was significant since it established a precedent for the future development of Air Force leadership doctrine. The institutional mission statement emphasized the unique aspects of leading airmen and formed part of an effort to establish the Air Force’s doctrinal and cultural independence from the Army. In contrast, institutional mission statements were nowhere to be found in the Army’s postwar field manuals (FM) on leadership doctrine. The Army’s publications also made only passing remarks about the links between psychology and leadership, a connection explicitly stated in AFM 35-15.10 The Army’s doctrine manuals focused instead on cultivating the individual leader, borrowing key concepts from the trait-focused leadership studies produced by civilian academics during the 1930s and 1940s.11 For example, the broad themes of teamwork and readiness appeared in the text of the 1951 version of FM 22-10, Leadership, but only to organize the presentation of the leadership principles and leadership traits that formed the core of the publication.12 One could reduce the Army’s position on leadership development, which overlooked broad institutional missions, to a simple statement: Leadership “depends upon traits which can be developed, and upon the application of techniques which can be learned.”13 This philosophy guided the writing of Army leadership doctrine throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the decades during which Air Force leadership doctrine evolved along with the service’s overarching mission.14 As the mission evolved, so did the theoretical and intellectual underpinnings of the service’s leadership doctrine.

Peace Is Our Profession

By the early 1950s, the role of the Air Force in the emerging Cold War was becoming clear. The danger of conventional and nuclear confrontations between the United States and the Soviet Union led the Air Force leadership to two important conclusions: “1) The defense of the United States must be based on airpower; and 2) In this thermonuclear age, defense is best assured by a strong air force in being.”15 Following Air Force deployments to Berlin (1948) and Korea (1950–53) and the Soviet detonation of a nuclear device (1949), an explicit mission- deterrence- began to shape the Air Force’s basic and operational doctrine. In the words of Gen Curtis LeMay, one could reduce the Air Force’s purpose in the late 1950s and early 1960s to a single statement: “Our mission is to deter war by providing our Nation with the primary forces to gain and maintain general aerospace supremacy- and if deterrence fails, to repel and defeat the aggressor’s forces.” No one had any doubt about whom the Air Force could expect to face in a military confrontation: “We maintain our aerospace forces in readiness to respond to any kind of military challenge the Communists may make.”16 This deterrence mission- both conventional and nuclear- guided the development of Air Force leadership doctrine in the 1950s and early 1960s.

During this period of doctrinal transition, the academic study of leadership changed in focus and scope. In the 1950s, civilian scholars of leadership turned their attention to the dynamics of group behavior- a subject that dovetailed nicely with the Air Force’s new deterrence-oriented understanding of its purpose.17 A proliferation of studies about leader personalities and traits undertaken in the 1930s and 1940s had yielded inconclusive results about the nature of leadership. Group dynamics became a new frontier for leadership research, and the Air Force quickly embraced the group approach to leadership analysis as a theoretical improvement to the service’s leadership doctrine. The cultivation of individual leaders remained an important part of Air Force leader-development publications, but new manuals encouraged airmen to recognize that the service’s deterrent capabilities were possible only through effective teamwork. Leadership-training materials incorporated studies of leader-follower interactions, and a number of Air Force–sponsored research projects explored the interpersonal dimensions of small-unit and aircrew performance. The service’s leadership publications cited case studies that emphasized team-building processes, acculturation, and group performance under conditions of stress. During this period, Air Force leadership publications included both positive and negative examples of group dynamics and case studies.18

AFM 50-3, Air Force Leadership, the 1964 revision of the service’s leadership doctrine manual, included language that emphasized the cultivation of effective partnerships and forward-thinking leaders. The “Mission” section, for example, encouraged airmen to be creative in their problem-solving efforts: “You are expected . . . to use initiative in conceiving more efficient ways in which the mission may be fulfilled. . . . If you think of some new practice that is lawful, by all means implement it.” The manual emphasized the superior capabilities of the service’s dynamic air and space forces, marshaled by leaders who understood their “responsibility to further the mission of deterrence and readiness” (emphasis in original).19 AFM 50-3 presented information on leader growth and self-improvement in the context of team leadership, advising leaders-in-training to be sensitive to context when they made decisions. Significant conceptual and theoretical differences existed between AFM 50-3 and AFM 35-15, the newer manual de-emphasizing the uses of psychology and including more Air Force–specific anecdotes (lessons learned) to illustrate points about cooperation, authority, and group effectiveness. This is not to suggest that psychology had fallen out of favor with leadership-development writers in the Air Force- other service publications from the early 1960s focused on specific psychology and group-management matters, supplementing the basic doctrine found in AFM 50-3.20 With a maturing leadership doctrine and an evolving leader-development system, the Air Force continued to promote leadership concepts that linked mission (deterrence), organizational theory, and psychology with leader development.21

Leadership and Institutions
in Transition

By the late 1960s, however, competing operational missions clearly were eroding the deterrence mission that had served as a touchstone for basic Air Force leadership doctrine for over a decade. Strategic deterrence remained a vital function of the Air Force, but the service’s broad role in Southeast Asia had proven that neither deterrence nor readiness adequately captured the scope of work performed by Air Force personnel. New analytical and resource-management techniques adopted by the Department of Defense (DOD) and implemented by the services complicated the leadership-doctrine picture. These new techniques included systems analysis, whose proponents introduced new thinking on leadership to the Air Force.

The approaches derived from systems analysis and theory became important new tools for exploring leadership, and both scholars of civilian leadership and academics working under military contract used these techniques. Systems approaches to leadership blended elements of older scholarship on traits, situations, and group dynamics with feedback loops, causal-relationship constructs, correlation analysis, and information-flow models applicable to the study of power in large organizations.22 Some smaller-scale studies attempted to measure group dynamics in quantitative terms or evaluate leadership performance with surveying tools.23 Other models and studies produced in the 1960s and 1970s attempted to capture leadership processes: examples included the “3-D Leadership Effectiveness Model” developed by Paul Hersey and Kenneth H. Blanchard of Ohio State University, as well as Fred E. Fied-ler’s contingency theory, which, over time, evolved to focus on individual cognitive resources.24 References to and excerpts from all of these studies of leadership appeared in key Air Force leader-development publications in the early 1970s, and new leaders-in-training were encouraged to consider the applicability of these approaches and theories to their own work and lives.25

Surprisingly, no clear institutional leadership doctrine emerged during this period to shape the organization and presentation of diverse approaches to leadership practice, most likely because the “requirement” component of the service’s leadership doctrine remained unresolved. As the body of civilian leadership literature grew, Air Force leadership-training publications incorporated a proliferation of other studies and theories not directly influenced by systems analysis, including a growing literature on leadership “styles.” The Air Force embraced the latter studies, derivative of earlier situational and group-dynamic analyses of human relations, and incorporated them into a variety of official leader-development and managerial publications.26 Air Force leadership-training materials from the early and mid-1970s encouraged young officers and officer candidates to develop an appreciation for diverse leadership styles and to use techniques appropriate to the setting, mission, and followers.27 Combined with myriad leadership theories and models, the wide range of leadership style “choices” presented to airmen formed the basis of a leadership toolbox that had taken the place of institutional leadership doctrine by the mid-1970s.

In the absence of formal doctrine, other influences shaped the Air Force’s leader-development process, such as the “Human Goals” credo adopted by DOD in 1969. The Human Goals declaration had the effect of shifting the focus of leader development away from a single, overarching mission, the “requirement” that had guided writing on leadership doctrine: “The keynote of leadership in the Air Force is recognition of the importance of people. . . . The leader must never lose sight of the needs, capabilities, and aspirations of the individual. Rather, he must concentrate on the development, satisfaction, and creative potential of each group member.”28 Behavioral science also continued to shape the service’s leadership curricula: “There is much more to the study of leadership than case histories of well-known leaders and recollections of heroic deeds. . . . An understanding of leadership requires a detailed analysis of cause and effect.”29 As the 1970s drew to a close, one discovered that sweeping institutional changes, an evolving institutional mission and unclear requirements, and decentralized leader-development responsibilities had created a void in leadership doctrine in the Air Force.

Paradigm Shifts and Sea Changes

In 1978 James MacGregor Burns published the groundbreaking book Leadership, in which he defined a new concept- transformational leadership- that attempted to move beyond established theories of transactional relationships in leader-follower arrangements. Hailed by some people as an intellectual paradigm shift, Burns’s book defined transformational leadership as situations wherein “one or more persons engage with others in such a way that leaders and followers raise one another to higher levels of motivation and morality. In other words, both leader and followers- as well as the social system in which they function- are transformed.”30 Undoubtedly, this approach to leadership would have resonated with post–Vietnam War military officers who were guiding (or watching) the significant changes occurring within and around their institutions- changes that included the introduction of the All-Volunteer Force concept, post-Vietnam force reductions, new rapid-deployment requirements, and the emergence of AirLand Battle and other doctrines.

What is striking about the 1970s and 1980s is the absence of any basic Air Force leadership doctrine that took either transformational- leadership theory or ongoing administrative and doctrinal changes into account. This seems like a missed opportunity, given the implications of transformational-leadership theory and the fact that civilian scholarship had proven itself a theoretical cornerstone of doctrine in the late 1940s, when the service’s mission was vague. By default, the responsibility for leadership training fell to the major commands and schools, while basic leadership doctrine was neglected. Despite the decentralization of leadership-training responsibility, however, civilian thinking on leadership continued to influence the service and remained a cornerstone of leader development. In 1983 Air University published the first edition of AU-24, Concepts for Air Force Leadership, which presented readers with a variety of articles by both military and civilian writers, organized in a thematic format similar to that of the 1970 Air Force Reserve Officer Training Command (AFROTC) publication Concepts of Air Force Leadership. AU-24 went through subsequent revisions, with newer editions incorporating examples of recent writing on leadership.31 Although not a statement of doctrine, AU-24 continued the established service practice of producing edited volumes for leader development. A review of the table of contents of any edition of AU-24 provides ample evidence of civilian influence on thinking about leadership in the Air Force. Balancing the civilian articles in AU-24 were contributions by active and retired military personnel who brought a measure of directly relevant professional advice and insight to an important text on leading airmen. Key readings in AU-24 mixed traditional and more current writing on leadership, including articles on ethics, values, traits, management concepts, and leader-follower relations.32

Although memoranda or Air Force instructions (AFI) addressed many leadership and management issues during the 1970s and 1980s, efforts emerged to establish a broad leadership concept for the service. Air Force Pamphlet (AFP) 35-49, Air Force Leadership, published in late 1985, represented an important “return to basics” statement of servicewide leadership guidance but was not formal doctrine. The pamphlet (written in a format similar to that of the Army’s FM 100-22, Military Leadership) emphasized a leader’s traits and principles but made no reference to the requirement-based institutional mission statement that had distinguished earlier iterations of Air Force leadership doctrine from the Army’s official leadership guidance.33

As the Cold War ended, Air Force leadership doctrine remained in a state of limbo. Leadership training continued, with responsibilities shared by Air University, Air Education and Training Command, and other corporate entities, all of which continued to rely heavily on civilian scholarship to train new leaders. In response to changes in the international security environment following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Air Force made several sweeping reorganizations that consolidated existing commands and created new corporate bodies. Despite these structural changes and corresponding updates to basic and operational doctrine, however, no revised statement of Air Force leadership doctrine ever emerged. Recent institutionally directed efforts hint at ongoing attempts to fill the void in leadership doctrine. In the early 1990s, senior leadership approved the creation of an Air and Space Basic Course designed to provide new Air Force officers with a common and unifying indoctrination experience, and in 1998 Gen Michael E. Ryan, the Air Force chief of staff at that time, ordered the preparation of a new leadership doctrine for the service. These gestures, which reflect a renewed focus on leadership doctrine, constitute a positive development that comes at an important time in the history of the Air Force.

Coming Full Circle

Air Force Doctrine Document (AFDD) 1, Air Force Basic Doctrine, is the most current version of the Air Force’s understanding of the uses of air and space power. Lacking anything that resembles a deterrence mission to guide the development of the service’s operational and leadership doctrine, the Air Force has embraced a “shape and respond” mission framework that includes “promoting regional stability, thus preventing emergence or growth of conflicts,” combined with the capability to “deter, resolve, contain, or engage and win” any crisis.34 Uncertainty about the future is implied in AFDD 1, and the language, although more dynamic than that of AFM 35-15, is reminiscent of the broad mission statements found in the latter, published in 1948 under circumstances strikingly similar to those faced by the Air Force today. Mobility and airlift, interdiction, and strategic capabilities were all important elements of the Air Force’s post– World War II mission. AFDD 1 declares that these capabilities and functions are equally important today, for many of the same reasons.

What remains to be developed is a comprehensive statement of leadership doctrine- written in a style consistent with the service’s Cold War–era doctrine publications- that links the shape and respond mission with leadership and acknowledges the demands that will be placed on airmen by the air and space expeditionary force. This is not to suggest that the service’s senior leadership is unaware of this requirement; the organizational and doctrinal transformations that began in the late 1990s have been accompanied by a strong interest on the part of Air Force leaders in current leadership writings, especially transformational leadership and other theories that address the process and consequences of large-scale institutional change.35 AFDD 1-3, Air Force Leadership, now being prepared for review and eventual distribution to the force, represents an important step that may well fill the doctrine void.36 The sources of this new doctrine remain to be seen, but there exist readily identifiable requirements, theories, and lessons learned from which one can create a living doctrine statement.


Until 1964 Air Force leadership doctrine consisted of three readily identifiable components: requirements, theory, and lessons learned. Leadership-doctrine publications issued in the 1950s and 1960s emphasized mission and theory, the former influenced by context and the latter by civilian writings and academic research on leadership. Historical insights and examples played only a minor role in early leader-development publications, perhaps because doctrine writers could draw only on the brief legacy of the institution to illustrate key points without borrowing from the historical legacy of the Army. When requirements became unclear in the 1960s, civilian-leadership theories and concepts provided some comfort to the men and women responsible for training the service’s leaders. The consequences of the Air Force’s appropriation of civilian leadership and management practices during the 1970s and 1980s remain the subject of ongoing debates, but one must recognize that the tendency to borrow and integrate is a practice initiated in the late 1940s with the publication of AFM 35-15. The use of civilian theory and method, in fact, reflected part of the service’s effort to emphasize the uniqueness of airmen and the Air Force- a service that became increasingly decentralized as institutional requirements changed with the international security environment. Recognizing this fact is important to the future development of the service’s leadership doctrine.

Today, the Air Force finds itself struggling with issues that parallel those faced by the service after it won its independence from the Army in 1947. The integration of new platforms, systems, and doctrine; the definition of emerging missions; the identification of opponents; fiscal austerity; and competition with the other services for money and technology were among the challenges airmen confronted in the 1940s and early 1950s. The same holds true today. A service-specific leadership manual that emphasized the uniqueness of airmen served as an important doctrinal declaration of independence from the Army, as well as the beginnings of what some have called the “airman’s mind-set,” defined as an individual’s deep understanding of the mission, capabilities, and limitations of air and space power, coupled with a sense of dedi- cation to the Air Force. A modern leadership doctrine document- written around institutional requirements, employing appropriate theory, and embracing the legacy of the service- can promote and strengthen this mind-set.

If we are to draw a lesson from the past, it is that the Air Force would do well to formulate leadership doctrine that acknowledges uncertainty and encourages the development of innovative leadership and followership practices- themes that appear in the service’s earliest doctrine and leader-development publications. The Air Force’s practice of borrowing useful civilian leadership constructs remains a viable approach to the doctrine-development quandary, but such appropriation should not detract from the ultimate goal of leader development: cultivating airmen who can understand, articulate, and execute the service’s overarching mission- whatever form that mission may take in the coming decades. Although some civilian leadership writings are certainly useful and appropriate for the task at hand, the Air Force cannot risk the development of twenty-first-century leaders on an unstructured and happenstance approach. Contemporary doctrine should be much more than a formal statement of traits, principles, and styles; it must reflect the dynamic nature of air and space power while recognizing, celebrating, and encouraging the unique characteristics of airmen. Regardless of its influences or sources, Air Force doctrine should provide an intellectual foundation for cultivating an airman’s mind-set and should help prepare the Air Force member- whether officer, enlisted, or civilian- for any leadership role.


1. Maj Steve Michael, “Air Force Doctrine and Leadership,” Aerospace Power Journal 15, no. 2 (summer 2001): 87.

2. Army Field Manual (FM) 100-22, Command and Employment of Air Power, has been called the “Magna Carta” of American airpower. The document is also widely recognized as the foundation of Air Force basic doctrine. Drawing on experiences in North Africa, it concluded that air forces are most effective when placed under the centralized and integrated control of an airman. See Lt Col Stephen J. McNamara, Air Power’s Gordian Knot: Centralized versus Organic Control (Maxwell AFB, Ala.: Air University Press, 1994).

3. One can find a draft (with annotations) of AFM 35-15, Leadership, December 1948, in the Air University Library at Maxwell AFB, Ala. See Revision of Proposed USAF Manual, Air Force Leadership, Special Study no. 5, Air War College Class 1947–1948 (Maxwell Field, Ala.: Air War College, Air University, 1948).

4. AFM 35-15, 66. For the record, one should note that Air Force personnel are identified throughout this manual as soldiers, not as airmen. The term airmen came into common usage in the years that followed.

5. Ibid., 60–81. Over half of the books and articles cited as principal sources in the comprehensive bibliography at the end of the doctrine section of AFM 35-15 are industrial and organizational psychology texts.

6. Ibid., 8.

7. Ibid.

8. Ibid., 37–44.

9. These are notable omissions. See note 16 for the source of Gen Curtis LeMay’s articulation of the principal mission of the service’s “aerospace forces.”

10. FM 22-10, Leadership, March 1951, 8–9.

11. For a more detailed discussion of the study of leadership traits and the beginnings of the scientific study of leadership, see John E. Adair, “New Trends in Leadership and Management Training,” Journal of the Royal United Services Institute 62 (November 1967), reprinted in Dewey E. Johnson’s Concepts of Air Force Leadership (Maxwell AFB, Ala.: Air Force ROTC, Air University, 1970), 20–31. In this article, Dr. Adair summarizes academic trends in the study of leadership, outlining the state of the literature through the late 1960s. See also Psychological Services, Inc., Bibliography on Military Leadership: Annotations of Selected Studies from Scientific, Technical, and Related Publications (Maxwell AFB, Ala.: Air Research and Development Command, Human Resources Research Institute, 1953).

12. FM 22-10, 10–18. For leadership techniques appropriate for use in combat zones, communications zones, mobilization and demobilization situations, and with occupation forces, minority groups, and female auxiliaries, see pages 17–36.

13. Ibid., iii.

14. See FM 22-10; and FM 22-100, Military Leadership, June 1961.

15. Air Science, Principles of Leadership and Management (Montgomery, Ala.: Air University, Air Force ROTC, 1954), 11.

16. Quoted in AFM 50-3, Air Force Leadership, 1 July 1964, 10.

17. See Dr. Donald A. Laird and Dr. Eleanor C. Laird, The New Psychology for Leadership, Based on Researches in Group Dynamics and Human Relations (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1956).

18. See “A Case of a B-50 Aircrew,” an excerpted study in Principles of Leadership and Management. This report was based on the findings of an Air Force–sponsored study conducted by the Ohio State University Personnel Research Board. It sought to determine “(1) new methods for the assignment of individual members to specific crews in such a manner as to lead to the greatest number of crews meeting minimum standards of satisfactory performance, (2) new methods for the composition of a limited number of crews capable of meeting the most exacting standards of performance, (3) what training and experience led to more effective crew performance, and (4) what attitudes and personal habits of crew members are associated with crew ‘spirit’ or morale and willingness to work together. . . . This material is presented as a realistic appraisal of a poor crew, so that you as a leader will know what NOT to do” (emphasis added, 162).

19. AFM 50-3, 11.

20. See Air Force Pamphlet (AFP) 50-2-26, Human Relations for the Air Force Manager, October 1965; AFP 50-2-27, Human Relations- Basic Concepts, October 1962; AFP 50-2-28, pt. 1, Human Behavior: What’s “Human” about Human Relations? October 1962; and AFP 50-2-29, pt. 2, Human Understanding: What’s “Human” about Human Relations? October 1962.

21. See Principles of Leadership and Management; and AFM 50-3, 22–26.

22. See Daniel Katz and Robert L. Kahn, The Social Psychology of Organizations (New York: Wiley, 1966). For an example of leadership and power flowcharts developed to express organizational relationships, see Johnson, fig. 1, “Some Assumed and Deduced Relations of the Theory of Leadership and Group Behavior,” 419. Later examples of systems theory that were applied to the study of leadership include Elliott Jaques’s A General Theory of Bureaucracy (London: Heinemann, 1976); and J. G. Miller’s “Living Systems: The Group,” Behavioral Science 16 (1971): 302–98.

23. For an overview of several survey-based leadership studies, see David G. Bowers and Stanley E. Seashore, “Predicting Organizational Effectiveness with a Four-Factor Theory of Leadership,” Administrative Science Quarterly, September 1966, 238–63; see also J. K. Hemphill and Alvin E. Coons, “Development of the Leader Behavior Description Questionnaire,” in Leader Behavior: Its Description and Measurement, ed. Ralph M. Stogdill and Alvin E. Coons, Research Monograph no. 88 (Columbus, Ohio: Bureau of Business Research, College of Commerce and Administration, Ohio State University, 1957), 6–38. J. K. Hemphill, who was involved in Air Force combat-crew surveys in the early 1950s, developed questionnaires to support factor analyses of B-29 crew performance. For a description of some of his methods and findings, see Johnson, 462–67. This article reprint also appeared in the Air Force leadership text Human Relations and Leadership (Colorado Springs, Colo.: US Air Force Academy, 1968).

24. For a diagram of Hersey and Blanchard’s 3-D Leadership Effectiveness Model, see Johnson, 441. See also Fred E. Fiedler, A Theory of Leader Effectiveness (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1967).

25. See Johnson, especially pages 421–45; Air Force Reserve, Introduction to the Concepts of Air Force Leadership (Robins AFB, Ga.: US Air Force, 1975); and Air University Leadership and Management Development Center, Tips for Commanders (Maxwell AFB, Ala.: US Air Force, 1977).

26. Johnson, 483–500.

27. See, for example, Air Force Reserve, Styles of Leadership (Robins AFB, Ga.: US Air Force, 1975).

28. The Human Goals credo, adopted during the tenure of Secretary of Defense Melvin R. Laird, emphasized the need for DOD to provide opportunities, facilitate postservice adjustments for service members, and “contribute to the improvement of our society” in order to “increase the attractiveness of a career in Defense so that the serviceman and the civilian employee will feel the highest pride in himself and his work, in the uniform, and the military profession.” See “Department of Defense Human Goals,” reprinted in Johnson, 8.

29. Ibid., 7.

30. Definition taken from Marshal Sashkin and William E. Rosenbach, “A New Vision of Leadership,” in Military Leadership: In Pursuit of Excellence, ed. Robert L. Taylor and William E. Rosenbach (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 2000), 52; see also James MacGregor Burns, Leadership (New York: Harper and Row, 1978).

31. See Richard I. Lester, ed., AU-24, Concepts for Air Force Leadership (Maxwell AFB, Ala.: Air University, 1983); and Richard I. Lester and A. Glenn Morton, eds., Concepts for Air Force Leadership (Maxwell AFB, Ala.: Air University, College of Aerospace Doctrine, Research, and Education, 1996).

32. Richard I. Lester and A. Glenn Morton, eds., Concepts for Air Force Leadership (Maxwell AFB, Ala.: Air University Press, 2001).

33. AFP 35-49, Air Force Leadership, 1 September 1985; see also FM 22-100, especially pages 16–37.

34. AFDD 1, Air Force Basic Doctrine, 1 September 1997, 43.

35. Maj Gen Charles “Chuck” Link, USAF, retired, director, Developing Aerospace Leaders Support Office, interviewed by James T. Hooper and Shannon A. Brown, Crystal City, Va., 3 December 2001.

36. Michael, 89.


Shannon A. Brown (BA, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo; MA, PhD, University of California, Santa Cruz) is a freelance historian based in Arlington, Virginia. An adjunct faculty member at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, he has held various commercial and government consulting positions.


The conclusions and opinions expressed in this document are those of the author cultivated in the freedom of expression, academic environment of Air University. They do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, the United States Air Force or the Air University.

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