How can I become a better cadet JNCO?

I have been a Corporal for about a year and Ive found it a good experience, but quite difficult. Mostly I find understanding nuances in language and conversation to be the biggest issue for me. I’ve done teaching pretty consistently and help run activities but what else can I do? I find it really difficult to find balance assisting other NCOs who struggle, as in not taking over. I am trying to be more understanding and ‘liked’ by the cadets at my squadron, ASD makes this difficult. There isn’t really anything in terms of subject matter that I am particularly good at either. Sorry about the tangent but what are some things I can do to be better.

The key is not to aim to be the most ‘liked’ but respected by the Cadets on your squadron. Cadets can respect you without liking you and vice versa.

Always act mature and set a good example. Don’t show favouritism or talk badly about your superiors.

You don’t need to be great at one particular area /subject but if you show enthusiasm and determination around the Cadets, they will respect you.


Keep on doing what you’re doing! teaching is a great start and if you’re passionate about any topic that is relevant to cadets speak to squadron staff and see if they’ll let you run a night on it. Sign up for every opportunity you see on cadet portal (that you’re available for), make sure your uniform and drill is exemplary and if you struggle speak to your other NCOs to get advice.

It’s not just about being liked but gaining the respect of the cadets and your peers. Show enthusiasm, help cadets out if you see they’re struggling, and keep yourself knowledgeable so you can answer cadets questions.

I’m sure you’re doing a great job already, just keep at it and make the most of everything the corps has to offer :slight_smile:

I always try to act as a role model and be impartial , its really difficult when ~50% of the cadets don’t want to be there. I don’t think some of them will ever respect me, which I suppose is fair enough as respect is earned and not simply given. ‘Liked’ was probably a bad way of wording tbh. Thankyou for the advice:)

After SQN opens again I’m doing my MOI assessment on Blue Radio. I am decent-ish at radio and probably best subject. I do basically everything I can on Cadet Portal because I feel like I haven’t achieved anything otherwise lol. Our NCO team is still rebuilding after basically ALL the NCOs aged out or left. I also regret not doing enough before or after covid, so I am basically rushing through all the opportunities I can.My uniform is probably one of the worst things tbh, my dyspraxia and general incompetence makes it really difficult to do. So ironing trousers takes like 2 hours (and half the time I make tram lines)because Im just god awful at it. I genuinely hate myself for this and feel awful trying to tell cadets the standards while I can’t meet them myself. I applied for Sgt and didn’t get it and I honestly don’t blame the staff because I wouldn’t want me in charge. Its quite fulfilling helping people when nice people did that for me tbh. Sorry about all the whinging and I wish you a good day and cheers for the good advice.

Not got time to do a full post right now, but by asking what you can do, and doing some self reflection you’re certainly on the right track


I can offer a few points based on what you’ve put. I’m only addressing what you’ve put here, not on yourself as a person or day to day NCO as I don’t have sight of that.

Incredibly difficult. I still struggle with this. The only way to get better at this is to get yourself involved in conversation. Don’t need to chime in, just listen. Two ears and one mouth for a reason. You don’t need to say anything to be involved in a discussion.

Brilliant, keep it up.

Harsh as it is. Not your monkeys and not your train set. You (should) have senior NCOs. That’s their job, not yours. Focus on mentoring cadets, not the NCOs. If they mess up, let them. Then have a quiet word with the NCO afterwards. Focus on your own development first.
Worst thing you want is animosity between yourself and contemporaries. Chill, let them discover their own way and quietly discuss with them, don’t take over.

Hard one here. I know many cadet staff and cadet NCOs say your different from the cadets at this point. But you really aren’t.
Being “liked” isn’t a nessescity but important thing to remember is as a Corporal, you’re essentially a cadet with a little extra responsibility.
You aren’t a DI at Halton or Cranwell taking on a batch of trainees where they shout “YES/NO CORPORAL!” after everything you say. You’re similar to me. A JNCO in the workplace where good cohesion and relationships with your juniors matter.
That’s not to say don’t have a line, but I’ll be very clear here as was made clear to me once I was promoted. You aren’t special. You are just one rung up and are still a monkey with a bit more cloth on your uniform.
You don’t need to be liked, but foster a good relationship with your juniors and they respond better.
Don’t have favourites, act fairly, but you are still “one of them” at least until you get your third.

Rubbish. Always something.

Good. I know some cadets don’t want to be there. Just keep the enthusiasm. You’re the only one that matters to yourself really, so if they don’t want to be there don’t worry, less of them will apply for courses you want.

See above. Told you, always something.

Good. But do it because you want to, not because you feel you have to.

As above.

I’ve altered that quote.
Who cares about uniform? Seriously. So what if your creases aren’t sharp? Who cares if there is no mirror polish? Are you putting in the effort? That’s all that matters. Make sure you put in maximum effort for big parades. Effort is what matters. Not the outcome.

Don’t. Really don’t.

If you have dyspraxia that’s a genuine reason. Put in the effort you expect. Don’t stress about the outcome.

That final sentence might be why. Why don’t you want yourself in charge? Have some confidence. You’ve been promoted. You are a cadet NCO. You wouldn’t have got there if the staff didn’t have faith in you. Believe that and world’s your lobster.

Biggest issues I see is not being confident in yourself. You wouldn’t have got there if staff didn’t think you can manage. Believe them that you can handle that responsibility. You’re doing great from the little bit I’ve read.
Leading by example by doing courses. Trying to mentor fellow NCOs.
Take a bit more time, focus on your own development first. Do what interests you. Not stuff you feel you need to.
The best people to ask how to improve are the staff on your squadron. Ask them, engage.

Remember you’re doing great. Keep it up.


This. If you find yourself backstopping your SNCO’s and your Staff don’t realise, then you can find yourself in a situation where the Staff’s understanding is that the SNCO’s are the ones getting things done, not you. As an Adult in a position of more senior Leadership you learn to give credit where credit is due to those you manage, teenagers less so.

Focus on your own development and let the SNCO’s do their own thing. Your quiet excellence will then get seen.

And try not to stress too much about climbing that greasy pole, your time will come :slight_smile:


It really sounds like the main thing you need to work on is your self belief. You were premoted to corporal for a reason, you must have been a high calibre cadet who the staff have belief in, don’t feel like you’re not good enough because you are - you wouldn’t have been premoted otherwise!

You shouldn’t be negative about yourself and put yourself down. I aged out as a CWO and would like to think I was fairly competent, but there was a time where I was a corporal and still had alot to learn. With the right attitude (which you have), abit of time and getting stuck in, you’ll develop your leadership skills and be able to take on the role of sergeant.

As a corporal, it’s your role to mentor and lead cadets. I can’t remember it off the top of my head, but there’s quite a famous quote that says as a leader you should serve your followers, not the other way round. Ask them what you can do to make their cadet experience more enjoyable, yeah you can’t make organisational change on the squadron but you can alter your teaching techniques if necessary and make polite suggestions to staff. You’re the boots on the ground, the closest part of the establishment to the cadets, your insight is worth its weight in gold!


I’ve improved a lot since being promoted but still a long way to go with people skills. We have 1 SGT as the SNCO but as we all have been affected by covid (lack of mentors) so we rely on the staff quite a lot for help. Most the time I am pretty passive. Its been different for me , far different from being a cadet as no ranks higher at the time. It’s difficult as sometimes I am too blunt and probably come off as not particularly the nicest person, but trying to change that. Activities make me feel like I am actually doing something positive as I am currently doing awfully academically. With the uniform, the cadets do care, I strongly believe in leading by example. I’m improving slowly:). I do have far more confidence to be honest than before, and its been a brilliant opportunity for me. Have a great day and Christmas.

We kind of all just pitch in, we have said we need to be more organised next year. Everything is getting better though! So basically just keep trying? Not much time left haha, still unsure to stay as a staff cadet or join the RAF.

I am sorry about all the self loathing, I have confidence as in I can public speak no problem any more, but I am really self critical tbh. I got promoted exactly a year ago and I think I got promoted out of necessity but I keep trying to improve and be the NCO that 13yo me would of wanted (high standards but fair). I still have LOADS to learn, but bit by bit I am getting there. I keep saying that ‘your here to learn , I won’t get annoyed if you don’t know how’ or likewise statements. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong but it must be something, I ask them what I can improve with and they say nothing. Not sure how to get constructive criticism and feedback.

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Don’t apologise, lots of people struggle with self belief, it’s not something that should be criticised it’s something for you to work on with trusted confidants in order to be happier with yourself.

It can be easy to put a smile on your face but not feel happy on the inside. Stay safe! If your squadron has a padre they are often a good person to go to about things like that?

I doubt it, that wouldn’t have been fair on you and if you were selected, even if you weren’t 100% ready at the time, you must have alot of potential!

As in they tell you there’s no room to improve or they don’t tell you anything? And who’s they? Everyone has room to improve, even the most accomplished people do.

Maybe go on a JNCO course with wing? Then you get a third party opinion on what areas have room for improvement and how to develop yourself. You could ask a different staff member at your squadron, or maybe ask a cadet who you trust and have a good working relationship with, as they’re the ones who your leadership impacts. Just remember to take what they say with a grain of salt as they might be biased!

I would echo much of what has been said. You seem to be doing all the right things, but do not try and do it all yourself or you will end up doing yourself no good. This is not your problem to solve, this is the sqn staff’s problem. You have far more important things in your life to work on, which if you ignore will have a far greater impact on you than anything you can do in the cadets.
The ‘organisation’ will chew you up and spit you out with no hint of conscience.

Interesting you mention the pandemic. This has had a massive impact on all sqns. Lots od experienced cadets left the organisation as did a number of staff, which are holes not easy to fill. I had to promote cadets who were far from ready to introduce a structure and due to lack of experienced cadets we as staff have had to do a lot of ‘hand holding’, which has paid dividends. Some are now approaching a third stripe.

If you haven’t done so speak to your staff and your parents. The latter because if things affect you adversely they will be the ones dealing with it, not anyone from the squadron.

Lots of good advice above that I can’t really add to. You have some challenges with the ASD and dyspraxia but this should not put you off being what you want to be.

Is the ASD diagnosed and does the Squadron staff know about it, same for dyspraxia? Your learning and communication style will be different and there could be some things done by the Squadron that could help.

Maybe you could be asking the question, how can the NCO team be better rather than focusing everything on yourself. Could you go to the local drycleaners and tell them your situation, maybe do some odd jobs for them in exchange for pressing the trousers? Tell them how important the trousers are for you and could they do a deal on the cost. I think, in your situation, some things could be worked around rather than beating yourself up because you can’t do it yet.

Is there a staff member that could mentor you for a bit?

Too many questions from me but good luck, from what I read I think you’re doing great.

Staff know, most the time I am ok , I don’t like ‘Suggest, Request, Demand’ as the suggest can be too vague as detailed by my JNCO course. I IRONED MY TROUSERS AND THE CREASES ARE SO CRISPY AND ACTUALLY OK. Good idea to do the dry cleaners if I am in a pinch. Could always pay as I don’t really spend much money really. Staff at my squadron are great, just want to get different insights from all of youses, you all seem really nice and knowledgeable. So thankyou. After all, hard for cadets to have a good cadet career/experience without higher ranks ensuring best opportunities and quality