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NCLS: What leadership looks like

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. --

The U.S. Air Force recently held the 2019 National Character and Leadership Symposium at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and I was honored to be attend and represent the 28th Bomb Wing. I captured a variety of leadership perspectives in just a few short days. I learned about their leadership styles and how they conducted themselves in the profession of arms.

One speaker after the next shared their personal experiences with leadership and how they developed themselves professionally.

My favorite speaker was Dr. Brené Brown, professor at The University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. Brown is a well-known professor at The Graduate College of Social Work at the University of Houston. She has written multiple books about her research and she regularly shares her findings by holding lectures and presentations.

She spoke about how leadership involves many aspects, including courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy. She said being a good leader means identifying problems and managing expectations.

She talked about a subject that was important to her: vulnerability. To Brown, one must identify their weaknesses to become courageous. I thought of comfort zones and how I can’t be the best that I can be if I stay within the confines of what makes me comfortable. To be a better leader, I have to work past my shortcomings and take more risks.

One of my favorite speakers at NCLS was the military leader of our Air Force, Gen. Dave Goldfein. He emphasized the need for good leaders in a changing service. With our nation in contention for global supremacy, good leaders are more essential than ever to keep our Airmen focused and ready for whatever comes our way.

Just before Gen. Goldfein took the stage, his right-hand man, Chief Master Sgt. Kaleth Wright, addressed the audience. He spoke about what it means to be a leader and how he attained the highest enlisted rank in the Air Force. He spoke about his tribulations as a young Airman. He was a frequent troublemaker and needed direction. He stressed the need for mentors and mentioned that without that mentor he probably wouldn’t be where he is today.

One of his messages that I took away from his speech is to eliminate “that’s good enough.” From your vocabulary. It resonated with me, because I know sometimes that kind of mentality can disseminate into an office culture.

Another one of the great speakers who shared a personal story was Maj. Christopher Duhon, a B-1 pilot. He spoke of the time he made critical decisions that led to the safe return of his crew members and himself. When two of the engines on the B-1 he was flying caught fire, he made the choice to land at Midland International Air and Space Port, Texas when one of the crew members tried to eject, he found that his ejection seat was not functioning. Duhon made the decision to land at the nearby airport and save the lives of his fellow crew members.

Instead of ejecting from the aircraft and leaving behind his comrades, he elected to stay in the plane and land. He put his life at risk to save the lives of his crew members. For that reason I think he is a hero.

This story got me thinking. What would I have done in a situation like that? Would I be prepared to make that decision? I thought about that for a while and wondered what was going through his mind. He didn’t let fear get the best of him and acted under pressure. He reverted back to his training and put the lives of this crew members in front of his own. I wonder if fear would get the best of me.

Overall, I think the conference was certainly a learning experience. Seeing those inspirational individuals speak made me reflect on leadership choices I have made in the past did I approach the situation in the correct fashion? Did I get to the root of the issue? Did I resolve the problem in a productive and professional manner? The speakers made me think about my approach and my overall goal when leading. I hope that I can take the lessons I learned and inspire others as I continue my Air Force career.

As I am presented with the challenges associated with leadership, I can look back on this experience. With this knowledge, I can lead with respect, have the utmost professionalism, and make better Airmen for the future of the best Air Force in the world.

The U.S. Air Force recently held the 2019 National Character and Leadership Symposium at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and I was honored to be attend and represent the 28th Bomb Wing From speakers such as our Air Force’s senior leaders to (provide an example of other leaders), I captured a variety of leadership perspectives in just a few short days. I learned about their leadership styles and how they conducted themselves in the profession of arms.

One speaker after the next shared their personal experiences with leadership and how they developed themselves professionally.

My favorite speaker was Dr. Brené Brown, professor at The University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work

Brown is a well-known professor at The Graduate College of Social Work at the University of Houston. She has written multiple books about her research and she regularly shares her findings by holding lectures and presentations.

She spoke about how leadership involves many aspects, including courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy. She said being a good leader means identifying problems and managing expectations.

She talked about a subject that was important to her: vulnerability. To Brown, one must identify their weaknesses to become courageous. I thought of comfort zones and how I can’t be the best that I can be if I stay within the confines of what makes me comfortable. To be a better leader, I have to work past my shortcomings and take more risks.

One of my favorite speakers at NCLS was the military leader of our Air Force, Gen. Dave Goldfein. He emphasized the need for good leaders in a changing service. With our nation in contention for global supremacy, good leaders are more essential than ever to keep our Airmen focused and ready for whatever comes our way.

Just before Gen. Goldfein took the stage, his right-hand man, Chief Master Sgt. Kaleth Wright, addressed the audience. He spoke about what it means to be a leader and how he attained the highest enlisted rank in the Air Force. He spoke about his tribulations as a young Airman. He was a frequent troublemaker and needed direction. He stressed the need for mentors and mentioned that without that mentor he probably wouldn’t be where he is today.

One of his messages that I took away from his speech is to eliminate “that’s good enough.” From your vocabulary. It resonated with me, because I know sometimes that kind of mentality can disseminate into an office culture

Another one of the great speakers who shared a personal story was Maj. Christopher Duhon, a B-1 pilot. He spoke of the time he made critical decisions that led to the safe return of his crew members and himself. When two of the engines on the B-1 he was flying caught fire, he made the choice to land at Midland International Air and Space Port, Texas when one of the crew members tried to eject, he found that his ejection seat was not functioning. Duhon made the decision to land at the nearby airport and save the lives of his fellow crew members.

Instead of ejecting from the aircraft and leaving behind his comrades, he elected to stay in the plane and land. He put his life at risk to save the lives of his crew members. For that reason I think he is a hero.

This story got me thinking. What would I have done in a situation like that? Would I be prepared to make that decision? I thought about that for a while and wondered what was going through his mind. He didn’t let fear get the best of him and acted under pressure. He reverted back to his training and put the lives of this crew members in front of his own. I wonder if fear would get the best of me.

Overall, I think the conference was certainly a learning experience. Seeing those inspirational individuals speak made me reflect on leadership choices I have made in the past did I approach the situation in the correct fashion? Did I get to the root of the issue? Did I resolve the problem in a productive and professional manner? The speakers made me think about my approach and my overall goal when leading. I hope that I can take the lessons I learned and inspire others as I continue my Air Force career.

As I am presented with the challenges associated with leadership, I can look back on this experience. With this knowledge, I can lead with respect, have the utmost professionalism, and make better Airmen for the future of the best Air Force in the world.