Some of Redstone Arsenal’s past and present leaders have teamed with a local mayor and a former Army astronaut to share experiences and inspire the next generation of leaders.
Rather than focus on the concept of leadership, the July 17 program, hosted by the Aviation and Missile Command’s Leadership Investment for Tomorrow, took a different approach.
“This is about the reality of leadership. It’s about showing employees what right looks and sounds like on a daily basis,” Tom Olszowy, the LIFT program manager, said.
Nearly 60 people from various Redstone organizations attended the forum that showcased retired general officers and members of the Senior Executive Service.
“This was a fantastic set of speakers for us to listen and learn from,” participant Darren Hester, an operations officer assigned to AMCOM’s TMDA Activity, said. “There was a common thread amongst them. Do what is right, ethically and morally; and, if you want to move up, you must get out of your comfort zone to get different experiences.”
Madison Mayor Paul Finley provided a perspective from outside the gates. He advised emerging leaders to know themselves, be a mentor and take care of people. The mayor also stressed the importance of creative thinking to resolve issues in the face of changing technology.
Retired Maj. Gen. Mike Rogers and retired Maj. Gen. Lynn Collyar teamed up to present their “three Cs of leadership,” which include competence, caring and character.
“Leaders set standards, and if it’s not right, you’ve just set a new standard,” Collyar said. The former AMCOM commander reminded attendees to think about the impact of their actions on the organizations around them and in the local community.
Each presenter talked about his or her rise to top leadership levels, sharing their experiences and lessons learned.
The day culminated with a soft-spoken delivery from retired Brig. Gen. Bob Stewart, whose career began flying gunships in Vietnam. He was among the test pilots who helped make the Apache helicopter what it is today, and he went on to become the Army’s first astronaut.
Attendees listened intently as Stewart injected humor to describe examples of courage, respect, duty and integrity – and jumped to their feet to offer a standing ovation.
“Now that’s a leader,” an audience member said.
Kiera Spann, from NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, said she enjoyed the dynamic speakers and their valuable perspectives.
“We learned the importance of creating organizational visions, having character and a positive attitude and developing your people,” Spann said.
One of Stewart’s remarks strongly resonated for the NASA employee. “He said, ‘A poor leader can destroy good people.’ That is a reminder of the importance of leadership, not only to accomplishing the mission, but also to the development of others,” Spann said.
Other leaders who presented during the LIFT event included James Johnson, deputy to the commander of Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command; and Myra Gray, director of AMCOM’s Test, Measurement and Diagnostic Equipment Activity.