Leadership Perspectives: 23rd SOPS commander

23rd SOPS commander LtCol. Kenneth Holmes

23rd SOPS commander LtCol. Kenneth Holmes


LtCol. Kenneth Holmes is the commander of the 23rd Space Operations Squadron, he assumed command of 23rd SOPS almost two years ago. He took some time out of his day to share some of his leadership insights.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I strive to lead by example. I act and lead how I expect individuals in my squadron to act and lead. I also like to surround myself with opinions that may not agree with mine. I can listen to all sides and viewpoints of an issue and then make an informed decision.

What do you feel your strengths and weaknesses are?

I believe a strength I possess is my demeanor. I have a calm, cool, and collected personality and I probably was just born with it. I can keep focused during stressful situations and rarely feel overwhelmed. My personality is also a weakness. I’m naturally an introvert and would never be mistaken as the life of a party.

What aspects of leadership are the most important to nurture?

Communication might be an aspect you wouldn’t think you need to nurture, but it’s important to actively set up lines of communication for your subordinates. You have to work to establish multiple avenues and give opportunities for communication. The easier you make it, the more information you will get.

How do you handle stress or challenges?

I try and remain calm during stressful, challenging situations. I like to simplify events, breaking it down to identifying the problem, solutions to fix it and the amount of time we have to solve it. If you focus on accomplishing the simpler, smaller tasks that will get you to solving the bigger, overall issue, it won’t seem like an impossible, overwhelming task.

How do you prepare junior Airmen for leadership roles?

One piece of advice I stress is to be yourself. There is no one way to act to become a great leader; there is no checklist to use or class you can take. You can study great leaders and their leadership traits and you’ll quickly find out no two are alike and there are a lot of different methods to be successful. You need to be genuine to who you are and not try to mimic others. Find out what works best for you and then cultivate your capabilities.

What is an action or routine that you need to do every day?

I like to do push-ups and sit-ups either right when I wake up or right before I go to bed. That way, even if I don’t make it to the gym, I’ll still be in good shape when PT testing comes around!

Is there anything else you would like to add about leadership?

Successful leaders stay true to who they are, genuinely care about their people, are able to absorb vast amounts of information, and don’t shy away from making tough decisions. And it doesn’t hurt to be calm and cool.