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Lt. Gen. L. Neil Thurgood, director for Hypersonics, Directed Energy, Space and Rapid Acquisition, addresses the Leadership Greater Huntsville Flagship Class, Aug. 12.

Leadership doesn’t stop outside of the Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office for Lt. Gen. L. Neil Thurgood.

Embracing his role as a leader not only for the Army, but also for the community, Thurgood served as the keynote speaker at this year’s Leadership Greater Huntsville Flagship Class during their opening retreat Aug. 12.

The Leadership Greater Huntsville Program is designed to identify, educate, inspire and connect leaders to build a better community and ensure future success in the Huntsville community. The program consists of over 4,000 alumni with numbers continuing to grow. Participants in these programs range from entry level to senior level executives looking to enhance their leadership skills and obtain new skills to lead effectively.

“I’m always looking for ways to develop leadership in the workforce,” Lana Barshinger, career management specialist at Program Executive Office for Missiles and Space, said. “Listening to Lt. Gen. Thurgood speak on the importance of incorporating a common understanding and shared visualization leads directly into the mission of what we are trying to accomplish.”

Thurgood, director for Hypersonics, Directed Energy, Space and Rapid Acquisition, which includes the RCCTO, addressed the more than 60 participants at the Marriott Shoals Hotel in Florence.

With almost 40 years of experience through the military, Thurgood explained the importance of learning who you are as a person. Leaders must always be prepared, he said. He added that leaders don’t have B days, they only get A days.

“Heroes don’t always dress like me,” Thurgood said. “Heroes come to work every day, build on the community, build a company, and build families. Heroes live in the communities of our nation. “

The Leadership Flagship class is a 10-month program designed for established senior leaders who have demonstrated leadership experience and proven success over significant business operations. Flagship provides in-depth knowledge of the Huntsville community and facilitates small group projects that identify and solve issues surrounding our community. Flagship has several success stories to include Rocket City Chef, playgrounds, and Downtown Huntsville’s dog park. Their overall goal is to identify and educate leaders by deep diving into our community’s needs.

“We meet one day a month during our Flagship program,” Shannon Drake, president and CEO of Leadership Greater Huntsville, said. “We create several small groups, all with different personality sets, and task them to find a nonprofit or identify a specific need in the community to take on for their session-long project.”

Participants of this class take a personality test within the first few days of arrival. This test will determine which groups are placed together for their project. Learning how to work as a diversified team is part of being a leader and a part of what will make each graduating member successful in their future careers.

“Listening to Lt. Gen. Thurgood speak on the art of execution and how to deal with a lack in manpower, money and time, really resonated with me through this learning process.” Michael Johnson, Huntsville Police Department, said.

“It’s phenomenal to have the opportunity to lead people,” Thurgood said. “To be a great leader, you’ve got to learn to hug the cactus.”

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